PLAY #350: AND AFTER THIS, STILL, THERE ARE QUESTIONS (12.DEC.2015)

A stage filled with pages of The Paris Agreement scattered across it.

Characters come in and pick up pages.

Some characters read the pages carefully.

Some characters throw it away in disgust.

Some turn it into paper planes.

Some eat it.

Some use it to wipe tears.

Some frame it close to their heart.

 

Who are these characters?

Perhaps it is everybody who has been in plays 1-349.

Or a whole new cast.

Or the recordings of voices, played as paper whirls in the air by a fan…

 

Whoever it is, there are questions.

Still, there are questions.

Such as:

 

SWAN

will birds find their way home now?

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

is this the end of the fossil fuel era?

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

how do we keep up this momentum? how do we hold governments that will slime their way of any commitments accountable?

 

UNIQUORRRNS

where are the                         rights

of the

left                                         out.

 

CRUDELLA DE SPILL

why regulate shipping and aviation?

can we keep the gaps between promises and pledges wide enough so mermaids can swim through?

 

LEILANI

when will the U.N. realise that 1.5 degrees isn’t just a nice target but a matter of whether or not I have a home?

 

FREQUENT FLIER

can I stop feeling guilty now?

 

SPIN POP FIZZ

can you imagine the profit from all this carbon capture?

 

HOOPOE

what comes after the start?

 

MASTER GUTTER

when can this get to Congress so I can cut some of it?

 

MINISTER OF DASH

will this business all go away now?

 

ARCHIVIST

where will I find space for all these pages?

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE

and what has happened to my country?

 

ROBIN HOOD

when did forests become something to trade?

 

CAPTAIN OF RESILIENCE

can I have some of that adaptation money now?

 

SAY DON’T SOOTH

why are we even pretending that this accord can do anything to seriously mitigate climate change?

 

ZAC

do you think we’ll be going to COPs forever?

 

ANJALI

who is in that ‘we’?

 

SHOULD

should I be happy at these victories?

 

THE ADVERTISEMENTS!

won’t you have some Coca Cola with your Paris Accord?

how about some bottled water?

an apple with a COP 21 logo?

some natural gas – it is the energy of the future?

 

BILLIE

why can’t they say fossil fuel free? when will we drop this zero net greenhouse gas emissions bullshit?

 

COLLECTOR OF TEARS

will tears outweigh the icebergs in the end?

 

ACCOUNTANT OF TRUTH

in five years, will all these NDCs add up?

 

MOTHER

where is my daughter?

 

ISMENE

where is my sister?

 

KHADIJA

what if we all screamed at the same time, would you hear us then?

 

OH, THIS WORLD

why wait until after 2050? why is everything so slow?

 

WE CAN HOPE

does this redeem all this process?

 

HELEN

is this the first chapter in a new story with collectives as the hero?

 

THE RELUCTANT MATHEMATICIAN

if we want to keep well below 2 degrees, than why allow pledges that promise at least 2.7 degrees of warming.

 

UNREAL ESTATE

when can we start selling stilts?

 

MAYA

where do we go now?

how do we keep building connections between people?

how is it I feel hopeful?

 

The questions hang in the air.

 

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PLAY #349: PARIS (10. DEC.2015)

Paris, evening of Dec 9th 2015.

ANJALI and ZAC are at a bistro in Paris.

ZAC is sitting at a table on his phone, ANJALI returns from the bathroom.

 

ANJALI

I’ve already told you that posting naked pictures won’t get you any more followers.

 

ZAC

What if they’re not of me?

 

ANJALI

I don’t know if Gladys would agree that it’s part of her contract.

 

ZAC

Well, it’s more of a free-form agreement.

 

ANJALI

Voluntary contributions?

 

ZAC

That’s it.

 

ZAC puts his phone away.

 

ANJALI

It’s killing you not being in there.

 

ZAC

No.

 

ANJALI

You miss the huddles.

 

ZAC

I have all the huddling I want.

 

ANJALI

You could go and loiter through the night.

 

ZAC

That’s not what I want to do tonight.

 

ANJALI

No.

 

ZAC

Anjali…

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

So, give me the optimistic spin.

 

ZAC

1.5 is still on the table.

 

ANJALI

One of three options.

 

ZAC

I think it’ll happen.

 

ANJALI

In symbolism yes, in practice…

 

ZAC

I didn’t think it was possible last year.

 

ANJALI

Who knew what poor countries could do when they shout together?

 

ZAC

There’s still some language about human rights.

 

ANJALI

Once it’s not specific. Not like indigenous people or women have any special vulnerability to climate change.

 

ZAC

Adaptation, they’ve worked through that: hardly a square bracket in sight.

 

ANJALI

Loss and damage…

 

ZAC

We’ll see. 2050 is still on the table. Five year reviews are in.

 

ANJALI

And international transport is out. Not like ships or planes have any special emissions.

 

ZAC

I’m sure the IMO and the ICA will sort it out.

 

ANJALI

Careful, Zac, that sounded like cynicism.

 

ZAC

Mid-thirties now. Gotta find something to match the stubble.

 

ANJALI

Which, by the way, is ill-advised.

 

ZAC

Your objections are noted.

 

ANJALI

My favourite part is still Article 2 option 2.

 

ZAC

The purpose of the UNFCCC: ‘no text.’

 

ANJALI

Sums it up.

 

ZAC

I thought you were feeling good about things.

 

ANJALI

I’m feeling good about things outside the bloody COP. But why do we keep coming here to cycle through the same bullshit?

 

ZAC

So you can ask that question every year?

 

ANJALI

And I can scowl at your dimples. Seriously, I don’t understand why everybody is excited about 1.5 degrees when the current INDCS have us at 2.7 degrees at the least-

 

ZAC

That’ll have to change-

 

ANJALI

And they can’t even say a fossil free world. More of this zero net carbon emissions double-talk, so that we will bend every way to offset everything instead of just stopping using the bloody things that are causing this mess.

 

ZAC

Modi’s solar deal is a good step-

 

ANJALI

Don’t get me started on him. What’s the point of expanding solar when you’re also expanding coal?

 

ZAC

Coal’s on the way out.

 

ANJALI

Right: natural gas is the energy of the future. I can’t believe they’re distributing tote bags touting gas. Or, I can believe it. Nothing about the False Solutions exhibit would surprise me.

 

ZAC

I haven’t been yet.

 

ANJALI

Neither have I of course.

 

ZAC

But you’ve seen the pictures.

 

ANJALI

Some of us follow the right people.

 

ZAC

It doesn’t even feel like we’re in Paris.

 

ANJALI

We have croissants. And wine. What more do you want?

 

ZAC

Moonlight under the Eiffel Tower?

 

ANJALI

I’ve told you to be careful about that sounding like Woody Allen shit.

 

ZAC

Anjali-

 

ANJALI

Saturday, we’ll go on a trip.

 

ZAC

To a jail cell?

 

ANJALI

To an exciting undisclosed location. I’m excited to push the boundaries of your civil disobedience.

 

ZAC

I thought I did an excellent job of sitting in today.

 

ANJALI

Apart from some of your suggestions.

 

ZAC

I didn’t think other people would be listening to us.

 

ANJALI

You should leave the thinking to me.

(beat.)

I mean…

 

Pause.

 

ZAC

Are we going to keep pretending that nothing has changed?

 

ANJALI

I don’t know.

(beat.)

I don’t want to talk about it now. With all this.

 

ZAC

Maybe we can schedule a huddle?

 

ANJALI

December 13th?

 

ZAC

Midnight under The Eiffel Tower?

 

ANJALI

If we’re not in jail.

 

ZAC

Maybe I can charm my way out and release you.

 

ANJALI

I won’t be holding my breath.

 

Pause.

 

ZAC

You think they’ll finish by then?

 

ANJALI

We could still be here.

 

ZAC

We could never leave.

 

ANJALI

I’m running off with that Greenpeace polar bear.

 

ZAC

I’ve got my eyes on one of those Angels.

 

ANJALI

I had you pegged for a mermaid man.

 

ZAC

Keeping my options open.

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

I do feel good. About things. Surprisingly.

 

ZAC

Oh.

 

ANJALI

The climate movement is getting stronger and stronger.

 

ZAC

Oh.

 

ANJALI

There is a sense of movement that wasn’t there in-

 

ZAC

Don’t.

 

ANJALI

No.

 

They don’t talk about Copenhagen.

They never talk about Copenhagen.

 

ANJALI

But I feel excited by Montreuil this weekend, by some of the wins that have happened this year. Including 1.5 degrees. Because even if we’re nowhere near set to meet that goal, lines are being drawn and we have something to hold the bastards to.

(beat.)

And I feel good about other things.

 

ZAC

Hopeful?

 

ANJALI

Not without hope. That’s what I’d say.

 

Pause.

 

ZAC

There’s always Marrakesh.

 

ANJALI

Yes. It’s always possible to postpone your urgent decisions for a year.

 

ZAC

Or we could always just never leave Paris.

 

ANJALI

Right. The current climate is very attractive. Maybe the National Front can turn this airport into a military base once COP is over.

 

ZAC

What was that you were saying about hope?

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

Marrakesh. There’s somewhere between Marrakesh and Paris.

 

ZAC

Some place in square brackets.

 

ANJALI

Multiple locations.

 

ZAC

We [should] decide.

 

ANJALI

We [shall] decide.

 

ZAC

No hurry.

 

ANJALI

No.

 

They drink.

PLAY #348: LET’S PLAY WITH THE CLIMATE! (9.DEC.2015)

A large glasshouse with a large foam sign: #COP21.

SPIN POP FIZZ, a chirpy PR agent, welcomes the audience and directs people to different games that may take place simultaneously or in any order.

 

[i] [THE LONG JUMP]

 

Markings on the ground: 1.5 degrees, 1.6 degrees etc.

LET’s JUMP holds out a springy pole.

 

LET’S JUMP

let’s do this!

sure

there’s a strong chance that this Paris Accord

will aim to limit emissions to 1.5 degrees

but

it’s only symbolic

at the moment

our shared pledges put us at least 2.7 degrees

but we can do better!

who wants to get us to 4!

6!

let’s show them what we can do…

 

[ii] [SQUARE THAT BRACKET]

 

THE BRACKETEER holds out some large square brackets.

 

THE BRACKETEER

come this way!

I want you to bring your loved ones

or loved things

photos are nice

pretty words

ribbons where you write the things you most care about

put them all into these brackets

that’s right

we’ll look after the things in here.

 

But then off runs THE BRACKETEER with whatever is inside, people included, to who knows where, some better world where all people are valued, perhaps.

 

[iii] [LET’S SHOOT SOMETHING]

 

JUST SHOOT SOMETHING distributes large water-pistols filled with black liquid.

JUST SHOOT SOMETHING holds up targets of trees, oceans, silhouettes etc. and invites audience to shoot at something, anything.

 

[iv.] [GO GOLIATH!]

 

A wrestling show.

GREEN CLIMATE FUND takes on FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES.

Except the gloves of FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES are 40 times the amount of GREEN CLIMATE FUND.

 

GO GOLIATH! stands on the sidelines + cheers, encourages audience to cheer, dances across the stage when FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES is triumphant.

 

[v] [RISKY BUSINESS]

 

RISKY BUSINESS opens up a large game of the boardgame risk, except there are pollution permits instead of armies and the winner is the one who makes the most $$ out of carbon credits.

 

Every now and then I’M JUST A DISASTER whirls in and rips away part of the board until there’s no board left to play on, but somebody has accumulated a lot of carbon credits, leading to much fanfare, applause, tears of joy from RISKY BUSINESS.

 

[vi] [PASS THE PARCEL]

 

Audience form a circle.

Cheery music plays.

Every now and then I’M JUST A DISASTER arrives and pulls out an audience member.

When the music stops, the parcel is unwrapped.

But nobody gets the present in the middle because by the time people have passed the parcel between the circle, unfortunately, unpredictably, I’M JUST A DISASTER has pulled everybody from the circle.

 

[vii.] [HERE ARE THESE LOOPHOLES, LET’s JUMP]

 

An obstacle course of large hoops.

CONTORTIONIST shepherds the audience through.

 

CONTORTIONIST

okay

so there are some tricky things about this accord

mitigation targets!

money that has to be added to the Green Climate Fund

but

let me introduce you to some loopholes

now

it make take some

serious gymnastics

to get through these

but let’s try!

 

CONTIORTIONIST leads the audience through various hoops

 

There are more games.

[Insert many more games here.]

Play until everybody is exhausted.

SPIN POP FIZZ claps excitedly at the end.

PLAY #347: NOW IS WHEN ALL THESE LETTERS AND QUESTIONS COLLIDE (7.DEC.2015)

A large greenhouse.

A large foam logo inside: #GOCOP21.

MAYA (17; mixed race – black and white parents; American; female) is inside.

NICK (19; white; American; male) is outside.

 

MAYA and NICK move consistently.

Sometimes they track the perimeter of their space.

Sometimes they move on the spot.

Sometimes they are quite close.

MAYA does not exit the greenhouse.

NICK does not enter the greenhouse.

 

MAYA

why is everybody taking photos in front of the logo?

 

NICK

can I have made the wrong decision?

 

MAYA

where is the zone to scream?

 

NICK

should I not have left you here?

 

MAYA

how can protestors be under house arrest when businesses are given stalls to sell their lies?

 

NICK

but what comfort could I have been to you?

 

MAYA

why are people afraid of freedom of speech instead of climate change?

 

NICK

haven’t you turned out better on your own?

 

MAYA

how do we cut through all this fluff and get to the core of the issue?

 

NICK

will this thing that is me burst from the pride of you?

 

MAYA

how do young people get a real voice here?

 

NICK

will you say everything I never found the words for?

 

MAYA

how do we say: no more?

 

NICK

can you hear me?

 

MAYA

how can me make governments listen?

 

NICK

did your mother tell you about me?

 

MAYA

how can governments wake up?

 

NICK

how is she doing?

 

MAYA

how do we break out of this hole where everybody feels guilty about individual actions?

 

NICK

is she mad at me?

 

MAYA

how do we build energy rather than despair?

 

NICK

is she mad at you for coming here?

 

MAYA

is it mad that I feel energized by all this?

 

NICK

when she cries, does she still wipe her tears with her sleeve?

 

MAYA

is hope a strange thing to hold onto here?

 

NICK

when she smiles, are there her dimples?

 

MAYA

why am I so scared of despair?

 

NICK

what are you like when you smile?

 

MAYA

is it because of you?

 

Pause.

 

NICK

can you hear me?

 

 

Pause.

 

MAYA

do I think you listen?

 

NICK

if you could, what would I say?

 

MAYA

what is it I believe in?

 

NICK

did I do the calculus wrong?

 

MAYA

what words are there for all the connections I feel?

 

NICK

was the result of zero net emissions from me too high a price to pay?

 

MAYA

how do we talk about history without fighting?

 

NICK

did they even give me a proper low-carbon burial?

 

MAYA

how do we build a movement that stretches from the past to the future?

 

NICK

am I a punchline?

 

MAYA

how do we move people?

 

NICK

when you went to my grave, did you plant herbs?

 

MAYA

will moving people to tears move them to action?

 

NICK

did you go to my grave at all?

 

MAYA

how many more storms, refugees, droughts, disasters would be needed to tip the scales?

 

NICK

will you ever understand how somebody with all the advantages of the world can still sink into despair?

 

MAYA

how can we convey urgency without overwhelming people?

 

NICK

how can I ever want you to be able to understand what depression is?

 

Pause.

 

MAYA

do I blame you?

 

Pause.

 

NICK

is it better to live and face a future that will most probably bring pain?

 

MAYA

what happens now?

 

NICK

is this something you will ever have to think about?

 

MAYA

how do we build this movement?

 

NICK

how do I rip through time and make sure that never happens?

 

MAYA

how do I respect all these connections to things I don’t even have words for?

 

NICK

do I want answers?

 

Pause.

For a moment, MAYA and NICK stop moving and look at each other.

 

MAYA

when we all meet, what will we say?

PLAY #345: ONE POINT FIVE TO SURVIVE (DEC.5.2015)

A large greenhouse.

A large foam ‘UNFCCC’ logo inside.

 

[i]

 

OCEANIA (mermaid from the Pacific Ocean) enters with a sign: ‘’Rio 1992.’

 

OCEANIA twirls around the stage.

Happy, loud music.

NICK (20s; white American; male) starts to fill the greenhouse with trees.

 

OCEANIA

I swim

in streams of possibilities

this new world we create

swirls with hope.

crisp blank pages

await the twirls of proud pens

happy to intervene

before the energy rushes away.

 

[ii]

 

NICK starts to take out some trees to make way for large reams of paper, with UNFCCC text on them.

OCEANIA enters with a sign: ‘Berlin, 1995.’

NICK continues to add paper.

 

NICK – around 17 or so at this point – hands OCEANIA a card.

 

OCEANIA

You’re in the Model UN?

 

NICK

And now the real one!

 

OCEANIA

You’re part of the Youth Groups.

 

NICK

You got it.

(beat.)

Will you sign it? I’ve never met a mermaid before.

 

OCEANIA

Sure.

 

NICK hands OCEANIA a pen.

 

NICK

I love swimming. And boating. And surfing.

 

OCEANIA

I bet.

 

OCEANIA hands NICK back the card.

NICK pulls out another card.

 

NICK

I’ll sign one for you too. Maybe one day it’ll be worth something!

 

OCEANIA

When you’re the President?

 

NICK

I think Environment Secretary would be fine. I really want to make a difference, you know? And I mean there’s so many people and places to save!

 

OCEANIA

You’re excited to play Superman?

 

NICK

Batman, I’d say. Way cooler.

(beat.)

Have you seen any of the negotiation sessions?

 

OCEANIA

No.

 

NICK

I sat in one of the overflow rooms. I’m trying to learn another three languages – I have six so far, but if you want to do well here, I think a dozen is the best bet.

 

OCEANIA

How many languages can you say ‘goodbye’ in?

 

NICK

That’s easy. Probably even two dozen-

 

But OCEANIA is gone.

NICK shrugs, fetches more paper.

 

[iii]

 

NICK is still adding paper.

OCEANIA flips her sign: ‘Kyoto, 1997.’

NICK sees OCEANIA, tries to avoid her.

 

OCEANIA

what’s wrong?

 

NICK

It’s not going to pass.

Not in the States.

It’s all…

 

NICK throws a ream of paper into the air, exits.

 

[iv]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Bonn, 1999.’

NICK takes out the remaining trees, continues to bring in paper.

 

OCEANIA

I am running out of words

as they lap around me

how many times can I say

that islands will disappear

that the ocean will sting in its bitterness

that my scales will peel

my lungs burst

while people chase a millennium bug

not looking at the end

that eyes them from the other side.

 

NICK exits the greenhouse, looks in from the outside.

 

[v]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Montreal, 2005.’

NICK sits by the side of the greenhouse, looking in.

 

NICK

my little brother’s here now

Zac

he took it hard

I think

me leaving the way I did

even

if I think he could see the sense of it

death by Kyoto Protocol

or lack thereof

is a tough thing to take.

so

here he is

stretching away from my shadow

he won’t let go of hope

clinging to it with his teeth

he is

the stubborn fucker.

 

[vi]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Copenhagen, 2009.

OCEANIA moves around the greenhouse, protesting.

NICK sits outside the greenhouse.

 

OCEANIA

two degrees is suicide.

that can’t be the only thing we agree to here.

the obliteration of everything around me.

 

NICK

Hopenhagen!

I thought he’d do something

my little bro

Obama

anybody

but every sliver of possibility we have

we waste.

 

OCEANIA

two degrees is suicide

we have not agreed to anything

in the spaces on the edges of the margin

we fight.

 

[vii.]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Lima, 2014.’

 

OCEANIA starts to swim in all the paper with various agreements written on it.

OCEANIA throws the paper in the air, splashes around vigorously.

NICK watches from outside.

 

[viii.]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Paris, 2015.’

 

NICK sits down by the side of the greenhouse, looking in.

OCEANIA starts to re-arrange all the bits of paper, until it spells out a large ‘1.5.’

As she does this, OCEANIA chants:

 

OCEANIA

One point five to survive

we are not drowning

we are fighting

One point five to survive

we are not stuck in brackets

we are fighting back from the edges of the page

One point five to survive

One point five to survive…

 

 

PLAY #344: LOSS AND DAMAGE, A PLAY IN PIECES (DEC.4.2015)

Paris, COP 21, 2015.

Scenes can happen in different order.

 

[i]

 

An enormous greenhouse with a foam ‘#GOCOP21’ sign inside.

LEILANI (18; Samoan; female) is inside.

KHADIJA (40s; Iraqi; female; a ghost) is outside.

 

KHADIJA presses her hand against the glass.

LEILANI moves over, puts her hand against the glass over the same spot.

They stay in this position for a while.

 

[ii]

 

The greenhouse is empty.

KHADIJA is outside.

KHADIJA presses her face against the glass.

 

KHADIJA

Hello?

Hello?

Can anybody hear me?

Hello?

 

[iii]

 

LEILANI enters the tent and sets up a crate table.

She puts up a sign: ‘LOST AND FOUND.’

She puts a loudspeaker on the table, with a recording.

She turns it on.

 

LOUDSPEAKER

as with any UNFCCC event

there must be bureaucracy

forms to fill out

say if you have lost

a glove

or a scarf

perhaps your ticket to reclaim your coat

perhaps your reusable conference cup

or an island

or a tree

or a town

or a culture

you can describe the items you have lost

and fill out a form

and there will be a plan

to replace your glove

or cup

or island

and there will be strings attached

so that you find your new item responsibly

with some benefit to others

because it must be carelessness

all these lost things

you must be to blame.

 

LEILANI throws away the loudspeaker.

 

LEILANI

we [will not] [will] be lost

we [do not] [do] accept this

we will not be the lost generation

we will be compensated

for loss and damage

without strings.

 

[iv]

 

KHADIJA leans against the side of the glasshouse.

 

KHADIJA

Hello?

the Delegation of the Dead have come to speak

we may be invisible

but we will be heard

it is important

to consider history here

this is not a problem of the future

even as we shift to an agreement

where all countries agree to emissions cuts

we must not forget

who got us here.

we have the wisdom of the dead

we have the tiredness of the dead

we have the anger of the dead

we will not be forgotten.

 

KHADIJA stands, gets a can of paint.

KHADIJA starts to write the names of Iraqi victims of oil wars across the greenhouse in paint.

Painting, painting, painting.

 

[v]

 

KHADIJA paces outside the greenhouse.

KHADIHA picks up a can of paint and flings it through one of the panes.

The pane smashes.

 

[vi]

 

LEILANI stands inside the greenhouse by a broken window.

She carefully picks up the pieces of glass and puts them on a crate.

She starts to make a sculpture, glueing the glass to the side of the crate.

 

[vii]

 

KHADIJA is outside the greenhouse; LEILANI is inside.

 

KHADIJA

hello?

 

LEILANI

hello?

 

KHADIJA

sometimes I feel

 

LEILANI

so alone

 

KHADIJA

and overwhelmed

until

 

LEILANI

I remember

 

KHADIJA

everybody here alongside me

 

LEILANI

even if I can’t see them

if alphabets

 

KHADIJA

and continents

 

LEILANI

gape between us

 

KHADIJA

still

 

LEILANI

here they are

 

KHADIJA

calling.

 

[viii]

 

LEILANI starts to paint shards of glass on a crate.

 

LEILANI

I am making

a map of lost things

jagged edges

that pierce brackets

and spaces that smother over things

because some things

refuse to be drowned

we

refuse to drown

we fight.

 

LEILANI holds up the crate above her head and marches around the perimeter of the greenhouse.

 

[ix]

 

KHADIJA sits outside the greenhouse.

LEILANI is inside.

KHADIJA makes bomb sound effects.

LEILANI ducks.

For a while, they do this until KHADIJA starts to laugh, then to cry.

 

[x]

 

LOUDSPEAKER is on top of the greenhouse.

LEILANI is inside.

The top panes have been smashed open.

Hoses pour water, oil, and trash inside the greenhouse, filling it up.

LOUDSPEAKER moves from side to side, joyous.

Hoses stop.

 

LEILANI looks around.

 

LOUDSPEAKER

we will be happy to arrange a loan

to cover unfortunate damages that you have accrued.

 

LEILANI

But it’s your fault!

All this was you!

 

LOUDSPEAKER

it is difficult to trace a line between cause and damages

consider it our generosity

that we will provide loans for development

that ensure you will be better equipped

for future unfortunate events.

 

LEILANI

no more!

you must stop!

no more!

 

LEILANI shouts as the hoses start again, relentless, but not loud enough to silence LEILANI.

 

[xi]

 

KHADIJA and LEILANI sit beside each other, the glass of the greenhouse between them.

 

KHADIJA

my daughter was of an age to you.

 

LEILANI

is she here?

 

KHADIJA

I haven’t found her

though I’ve pushed my nails

into every corner.

 

Pause.

 

LEILANI

what was her name?

 

KHADIJA

Leila.

 

Pause.

 

LEILANI

A nice name.

 

KHADIJA

I don’t know.

I wish I had made her up a new name

one like a bulletproof vest

the name of one who can never die

invulnerable to bombs

free of the indignities

of a world where

that at the bottom of a barrel

carries more value than any ‘Leila.’

I wish she had a name beyond letters.

 

 

LEILANI

You should have called her ‘oil.’

 

KHADIJA

Ha.

Yes.

My next.

 

 

[xii]

 

KHADIJA sits on the roof of the greenhouse.

One of the top panes is smashed.

Through this, strings run down, attached to LOUDSPEAKER, which KHADIJA moves around like a marionette.

LEILANI watches inside the greenhouse, laughing.

 

LOUDSPEAKER

this is most unpleasant

 

KHADIJA

strings

I will show you what strings feel like.

 

LOUDSPEAKER

stop!

 

But KHADIJA continues.

 

[xiii]

 

KHADIJA and LEILANI sit beside each other, the wall of the greenhouse between them.

 

KHADIJA

there was a woman in my village

who could only speak in brackets

she must have swallowed them

once

and so they came up

painfully through a tube in her chest

and tumbled down onto stones

broken.

(beat.)

when she died

we had forgotten her name

so we just wrote

[       ]

 

[xiv]

 

LEILANI holds the LOUDSPEAKER and whispers into its open mouth.

 

LEILANI

what I would like to lose:

debt

and doubt

and measuring out life by inches

and the shadows of strings

stretched across a beach

and the coat of colonialism

that cosies around

and the days and days

spent staring at clocks

while talk spins round

in rooms that look like airports

I will not mind

losing the UNFCCC

and you

I would like to lose

you.

 

[xv]

 

KHADIJA and LEILANI sit side by side, the glass of the greenhouse between them.

 

LEILANI

because we have lost all time.

 

KHADIJA

what?

 

LEILANI

we have lost time.

 

KHADIJA

what?

 

LEILANI

time has been damaged.

 

KHADIJA

how?

 

LEILANI

there was a time

when birds told us things

when to grow

or sow

it was all written out

in the pathways of the birds

and now

they flap about confused

seasons are all sloppy

we do not know what time it is

because we have lost all time

 

KHADIJA

what?

 

LEILANI

we have lost time

 

KHADIJA

how?

 

LEILANI

there was a time…

 

And so it continues until time can be found for stopping.

 

[xvi]

 

KHADIJA presses her hand against the glass.

LEILANI moves over, puts her hand against the glass over the same spot.

They stay in this position for a while.

PLAY #343: PARIS IN PARENTHESES (DEC 3 2015)

Paris, COP 21, 2015.

An enormous tent with a large foam logo (#COP21) and several bins overflowing with rubbish.

Scenes take place in any order, indeed, some could be simultaneous.

[ i. ]

OCEANIA (a mermaid from the Pacific ocean) enters.

OCEANIA speaks between a large pair of foam brackets.

 

OCEANIA

everything important is in parentheses

the easier to be stricken from an accord

at a later debate

loss and damage

are only really present

when it’s the text of an accord that’s being damaged

when it’s provisions for poor countries that are being lost.

we can’t even squeeze 1.5 degrees into a bracket

such a small number

point five of a degree

1.5 rather than 2

yet if we don’t pledge to stay below 1.5 degrees of warming

whole islands

will be bracketed.

 

OCEANIA drops brackets, exits.

 

 

[ ii.  ]

PIGEON enters with a pair of large foam brackets.

PIGEON shits on the brackets.

PIGEON exits.

 

[ iii.  ]

 

OCEANIA poses on top of a large foam logo: #COP 21.

OCEANIA imagines a large crew of photographers: many poses.

PIGEON walks by, nonchalant.

 

[ iv.  ] 

PIGEON enters.

 

PIGEON

we’re messengers, us birds

used to interpreting the divine for dummies

auspicious work

and so here we are

in the gaps of this conference

seeking to inaugurate this accord

even if nobody listens to the augurs anymore

because we’re squawking it in so many ways

we’re canaries in the coalmines

we’ve got oil spilled in our feathers

and if that wasn’t enough

we’re getting lost in every direction

not just climate that’s changing

but time

who knows when we’re supposed to be where we’re supposed to be

and so we’re squawking

that fossil fuels are killing us

that climate change is killing us

some of us

enough of us

that we don’t want to gamble on who’ll be flying high in four degrees

but I’ve missed the translation button here

because nobody seems to get my message.

 

[v.]

OCEANIA and PIGEON sit in the corner of the tent, eating food from a bin.

 

PIGEON

Love the cheeseburgers.

 

OCEANIA

I don’t know how they do it.

 

PIGEON

And the crepes with some jambon.

 

OCEANIA

Have lines snaking for hours for plates stacked with meat.

 

PIGEON

Some sausage!

 

OCEANIA

And then have people

complaining

that there’s not enough for everybody

that it’s terrible to have to wait for food

and I want to think that it’s all part of the plan

but I don’t know if I can give that much credit.

 

[vi.] 

OCEANIA and PIDGEON sit beside each other in a corner of the tent.

 

OCEANIA

have you ever go to the point

where you’re not sure

if the tears you’re about to cry

are because you’re so sad

or because everything is so fucked up

that it’s almost funny?

 

 

PIGEON

the crying of pigeons is under-reported

if it doesn’t happen on a camera here

I’m not sure that it happens.

 

[vii.]

OCEANIA pulls some climate ribbons off a tree.

 

OCEANIA

Write down what you what:

you hope to never lose from climate change

but

what do you write

when climate change isn’t pitched in the future

when it’s already happening

yesterday?

 

OCEANIA puts the ribbons in her hair, leaves.

 

[viii.]

 

PIGEON holds a sign: ‘I am looking for: Birds.’

PIGEON waits.

PIGEON discards the sign, leaves.

 

[ix.]

 

OCEANIA and PIGEON drink in the corner.

 

PIGEON

They say she’ll come.

 

OCEANIA

Not sure I’d bet on it.

 

PIGEON

And I think she must.

 

OCEANIA

Why would she?

 

PIGEON

The oldest bird. More dinosaur than bird, they say.

 

OCEANIA

Crocodiles have it right: keep your head under water most of the time.

 

PIGEON

She’ll know how to survive.

 

OCEANIA

No way to be disappointed then.

 

PIGEON

Because birds have survived whatever happens.

 

OCEANIA

No islands to fall in love with only to have them leave.

 

PIGEON

No matter to us what humans need from us.

 

OCEANIA

No islanders to eye up only to have them shipped away.

 

PIGEON

She’ll come, I’d say.

 

OCEANIA

Mermaids may have the looks, but I’d become a crocodile anyday.

 

PIGEON

For sure. She’ll be here.

 

[x.]

OCEANIA empties out a bag of business cards.

PIGEON eats the business cards.

OCEANIA finds a large pamphlet.

 

OCEANIA

‘Strategies for monetizing risk?’

 

PIGEON

Not sure even I can stomach that.

 

OCEANIA

It’s about the ways in which climate change can actually be very profitable. Blue bonds. The carbon market. Excitement.

 

OCEANIA starts to rip the pamphlet up into very small pieces.

PIGEON eats them.

 

[xi.]

A large foam logo: #COP21.

OCEANIA and PIGEON squeeze into the space in the ‘O’ and cuddle together.

They look out, as if confronted by photographers, refuse to smile.

 

[xii.]

A large foam logo: #COP21.

OCEANIA starts to stack the letters, making a sculpture, which she slowly fills with debris and other trash, until it starts to look like a reef.

OCEANIA lies down in it, happy.

PIGEON enters, goes to the top, settles.

[xiii.]

 

 

PIGEON and OCEANIA sit in the corner of the tent.

 

PIGEON

If princesses can kiss frogs, can mermaids kiss pigeons?

 

OCEANIA

you want to turn into a prince?

 

PIGEON

isn’t adaptation the answer?

and when I’m a prince

I’ll make up my own charities

and tell people what they can do with my money

which is make more of it for me

because I’ll have a high house and a nice smile

and I’ll order vats of food

just to watch them rot.

 

Pause.

 

OCEANIA

I don’t want to kiss anybody

I have a vision of myself

arms spread out and hair spangled

on the surface of a quiet sea

a gentle ray of sun or two

happy.