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 #175: LIMA (JUNE 1)

Lima, December 2014.

A bar at the UN Climate Summit.

ANJALI, an Indian NGO worker, sits tapping at her phone furiously.

ZAC, an American think-tanker, walks over with two drinks.

Both are in their mid-thirties: ANJALI is brown, ZAC is white.

They speak very quickly, a comfortable routine.

 

ANJALI

Still busy.

 

ZAC

Why is tweeting such an aggressive act?

 

ZAC sits down.

ANJALI takes the drink without looking up from her phone.

 

ZAC

It should be called cawing. Or crowing. Hooting.

 

ANJALI

I’m calling the Council of Ornithologists and asking them to de-feather you.

 

ZAC

Starting the foreplay early this year?

 

ANJALI

I did mention that I was still busy, right?

 

ZAC

Let me guess: Lima Accord is ‘deeply disappointing.’

 

ANJALI

‘An outrage.’

 

ZAC

‘No justice no deal’?

 

ANJALI

No justice, period.

 

ZAC

The things you’re angry about: no adequate provision for Loss and Damage.

 

ANJALI

Check.

 

ZAC

No commitment to immediately reduce emissions.

 

ANJALI

Check.

 

ZAC

Not enough commitment to the Green Climate Fund.

 

ANJALI

You want to write this?

 

ZAC

‘Respective Capabilities in light of Different National Circumstances’: its very own tweet.

 

ANJALI

Yes. The Capability Cock-Up!

 

ZAC

No!?

 

ANJALI

No. Just making sure you’re paying attention.

 

ZAC

I am rapt. Chance to see this before your 47 other followers.

 

ANJALI

47,000.

 

ZAC

No?

 

ANJALI

No. Million.

 

ZAC

Don’t think your commitment to delusions is still cute.

 

ANJALI puts away her phone.

 

ANJALI

Okay, what do you have? Something about a step in the right direction, call for renewables, something glowing about Obama’s coal regulations because you still love him even if he did fire you.

 

ZAC

You know that I quit. And you’re just mad because I’m finished.

 

ANJALI

You’re just jealous because I have more followers.

 

ZAC

You do not have more than 5,000.

 

ANJALI

Being followed by the Pope can work wonders.

 

ZAC

Unless you’re an altar-boy.

 

ANJALI

You’re sick.

 

ZAC

You’re a liar.

 

ANJALI

You’re the one who thinks that the Lima Accord is a step in the right direction.

 

ZAC

I didn’t say that.

 

ANJALI

You hooted it from the rooftops.

 

ZAC

You know as well as I do that we’re just treading water until Paris. No harm in keeping a bit of optimism alive.

 

ANJALI

Easy for an American to say: optimism runs through your drinking water. They probably put it in your toothpaste. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in your breast-milk.

 

ZAC

Okay, the real question: where does the food rank?

 

ANJALI

Better than Warsaw.

 

ZAC

Doesn’t count: you were on hunger strike.

 

ANJALI

Much better than Doha.

 

ZAC

No Bali.

 

ANJALI

Equal with Durban.

 

ZAC

Better than Poland.

 

ANJALI

Europe is always a low-point. Especially-

 

ZAC

Don’t-

 

ANJALI

No.

 

They don’t talk about Copenhagen.

They never talk about Copenhagen.

ANJALI drinks.

 

ANJALI

Another?

 

ZAC

Sure.

 

ANJALI gestures.

 

ZAC

Drinks are definitely top-tier. And the inflatable art is in a league of its own.

 

ANJALI

Did you see the photos of the carbon bubble at Flood Wall Street?

 

ZAC

I was worried it might crush you.

 

ANJALI

Something about spending time at UN Climate Summits has given me a remarkable capacity to deal with hot air.

 

The drinks arrive.

 

ANJALI

Thank you for the flowers.

 

ZAC

Gladys excelled herself.

 

ANJALI

All the blue, it was really…

 

ZAC

I had a bunch left over from the Democratic convention.

 

ANJALI

Seriously, Zac, it was…

 

ZAC

You’re welcome.

 

Pause.

They drink.

 

ANJALI

I meant to send a thank you note.

 

ZAC

It’s okay.

(beat.)

How was the day?

 

ANJALI

Pretty terrible.

 

ZAC

Sounds right.

 

ANJALI

I’ll accept some of your optimism now. Throw out any platitudes you want.

 

ZAC

Settle for another drink?

 

ANJALI nods.

ZAC gestures.

 

ANJALI

You just want to keep me in debt to you.

 

ZAC

Nothing more dangerous than a gift.

 

ANJALI

I thought you that line.

 

ZAC

You wish.

 

Drinks arrive: speed is magical here.

 

ANJALI

So you really think this Accord isn’t a piece of shit?

 

ZAC

I really think shit might happen in Paris.

 

ANJALI

Then you’d better get your shit together.

 

ZAC

Not my shit anymore.

 

ANJALI

Sure ain’t mine.

 

ZAC

No.

(beat.)

I think there’s a kind of hope that doesn’t have to crush you.

 

ANJALI

There’s a slogan to run behind. Think you’ll have to do better for the 2036 campaign.

 

ZAC

Maybe I can hire you to crow for me.

 

ANJALI

If you’re lucky, I might not completely demolish your policies.

 

ZAC

I live in hope.

(beat.)

Isn’t that what you love about me?

 

ANJALI

Did you mean to say love to hate?

 

ZAC

So are we going to drag this out for another drink?

 

ANJALI

Not if I’m buying.

 

ZAC

So.

 

ZAC finishes, stands, waits.

ANJALI finishes her drink, stands.

 

ANJALI

So.

 

They walk out together.

 

 

 

PLAY #117: THE BINDING (MARCH 28)

UN NEGOTIATORS bring in lots of pages of The Lima Accord.

Pages stacked together.

 

NEGOTIATOR #1

In Lima, we talked into the night, we put words to pages.

 

More UN NEGOTIATORS enter with more pages.

 

NEGOTIATOR #2

In Geneva, we stirred more words in.

 

A NEGOTIATOR enters with string, assesses the document from different angles.

A huddle with the string.

Different tentative ideas, nothing attempted.

 

NEGOTIATOR #1

What sort of knots do we need in Paris?

 

NEGOTIATOR #2

                                   Who will pay for the binding?

 

THE UN NEGOTIATORS look at the document, at the string, each other.

 

PLAY #78: THE GREAT GLASS CAULDRON (FEB 16)

Geneva, February 2015.

An enormous glass bowl full of paper with a fan inside, so the paper swirls about.

DIPLOMATS add pages to the bowl, as if in a ceremony, throughout the following.

 

WE CAN HOPE and HERE WE GO AGAIN watch.

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN

It’s too much. Lima already had a draft text of 38 pages. The editing solution is to let everybody add what they want until the text doubles in length?

 

WE CAN HOPE

No. It’s good. A transparent process.

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN

You think it’ll last once everybody gets to Paris?

 

WE CAN HOPE

It has to.

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN

It’ll be the same as-

 

WE CAN HOPE

Don’t!

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN holds breath: Copenhagen hanging in the air.

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN

That’s how it was before 2009 too, a commitment to openness. And then once everybody arrived in-

 

WE CAN HOPE

Don’t!

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN holds breath, the shadow of Copenhagen felt again.

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN

The geography of climate conferences prefers corridors. No way a huddle can include 194 countries.

 

WE CAN HOPE

Still we can-

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN

Hope?

 

WE CAN HOPE

Yes.

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN shrugs.

DIPLOMATS continue to walk towards the large glass bowl, adding texts.

Paper swirling about inside.

 

 

 

 

 

PLAY #18: THAT KID CALLED HOPE (DEC 18)

A kitchen.

GRANNY OLD TIMER reads news on the internet.

THAT KID CALLED HOPE cuts orange felt squares.

GRANNY OLD TIMER shuts her laptop.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

Agh! What’s the point of it? It’s the same old story every year: all big talk and bluster at the start, and nothing coming out of it at the end. I’d say they’re going backwards, if anything, although perhaps that’s giving them too much credit: I’m not sure that they’re capable of any sort of motion.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

It’s not all bad news.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

Agh! Sure Paris is only a year away and they haven’t figured most of the deal out. I thought it might be different this year with the US and China deal and some sort of movement on the Green Climate Fund, but no, more of the same. The last minute rush to scramble something together. And then the slaps on the backs, as if they’re all superheroes when they manage to edit a paragraph. Agh, I give up.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

You say that every year.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

I should be saying it every day.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

I’m supposed to be the one that’s all jaded and cynical.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

When you’ve lived as long as I have, you’ll know that there’s no benefit in acting as you’re supposed to.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER gets up and pours some whiskey.

THAT KID CALLED HOPE continues to cut felt carefully.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

Tell me something good about it anyway. I need some sort of silver lining.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

It’s more of an orange lining.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

Stop with your cleverness.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

There’s some movement away from fossil fuels.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

Agh, what are you talking about? Didn’t Shell have their own tent at Lima? They’re all on and on about carbon capture and the opportunities they’re excited about. As if fossil fuels weren’t getting us deeper into this mess every day. It’s the same old story.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

It’s different this time. The rhetoric around fossil fuels.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE opens the laptop and searches.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

They have that Elements text that’s going to be the basis of the Paris agreement…one of the options is that fossil fuels will be cut completely by 2050. What do they say…’cut to a net zero’!

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

Agh, but that’s just one of the options. That’ll never take off.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

Not unless we make it. It’s different for the climate talks – to acknowledge a world without fossil fuels in a future that’s forseeable.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

To some at least.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

You might still be around in 2050. Talking about giving up and still fighting on.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

If there’s any sort of god, she’ll have long turned me into wormfood by that point.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE hands GRANNY OLD TIMER an orange square.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

Here, you can wear this in your coffin.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

What are these things again?

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

The symbol of the fossil fuel divestment movement.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

Does it have to be such an ugly color?

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

There were a lot of meetings. We couldn’t have red squares because that’s the color of the student movement in Quebec, which is where the idea came from. And people didn’t want to have green because the color’s been co-opted to the point where it’s basically invisible.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

So you settled on the ugliest color possible?

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

Orange is good because it’s all energy and exclamation points, you know?

beat.

Look, the Lima document could have been much better and there’s definitely some shittiness in the way that rich countries are stepping quietly away from greater responsibility. But to have the UN to talk about completely phasing out fossil fuels, even just as one possible option, that’s huge. And it’s huge for the divestment movement too. We have a year to make sure that continuing with fossil fuels indefinitely isn’t an option in Paris. There’s a window of opportunity that’s edging open-

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

And you’re going to crank it up further?

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

We’re going to smash through it completely.

 

GRANNY OLD TIME puts the orange square on.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER

Well, why not? There’s always the chance that I might skewer my heart with the safety pin.

 

THAT KID CALLED HOPE

You can only hope.

 

GRANNY OLD TIMER looks down at her whiskey.

THAT KID CALLED HOPE cuts out orange squares.

PLAY #16: COMMON BUT DIFFERENTIATED RESPONSIBILITIES AND RESPECTIVE CAPABILITIES IN LIGHT OF DIFFERENT NATIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES (DEC 16)

All at the same time:

 

UN OFFICIAL makes a large banner: ‘We are all one.’

PROTESTOR chants softly, ‘no justice, no deal…no justice, no deal…’

TRYING TO UNDERSTAND rearranges magnetic letters on a large fridge to spell out the title of the play.

The freezer part of the large fridge defrosts.

BUT??? records a v-log in front of the audience.

 

BUT???

I know

that history is very 1988

but

what about the recognition of historical responsibility for emissions

that was enshrined into the UN Climate Framework in 1992?

I know

that it’s good if everybody moves away from fossil fuels

especially if this deal’s real about that

but

shouldn’t there be more clarity about how differentiated responsibilities work?

I know

that the rich countries responsible for glutting the atmosphere with C02

pledge and promise

to help poor countries to adapt and mitigate

but shouldn’t those pledges be part of their responsibilities?

I know

that believing in the stability of words is very 1962

I know

that words are poor blankets when a storm is coming

but shouldn’t they mean something?

 

 

PLAY #15: THE DIFFERENCE

A deflated tent at the Lima Climate Summit.

Huge, like a fallen cloud.

Drafts of the Lima Climate Action Plan rest in the folds of the tent.

 

CLIMATE and CHANGE (from play #11) are onstage

CLIMATE sits, tries to turn some of the drafts into a blanket.

But the paper isn’t warm enough.

 

CLIMATE tries to makes some of the drafts into a paper boat.

But there isn’t enough paper.

 

CLIMATE rips paper into small pieces.

 

CLIMATE

ah

I lament.

I ache.

 

Meanwhile, CHANGE bounds across the tent.

Picks up pieces of paper and turns them into paper airplanes.

 

CHANGE

I get.

I get!

I get!!!

 

CHANGE sends paper airplanes into the audience, airplane after airplane, until there is no paper for CLIMATE to rip.