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…

 

 

Advertisements

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.

 

PLAY #315: IT’S NOTHING (NOV 3)

Ireland, a bedroom.

FERDINAND is attaching lemon-nipples to an oceanic Halloween costume.

TOM looks on.

 

FERDINAND

Too much?

 

TOM

Never.

 

FERDINAND

Right answer.

 

TOM

You’re a mermaid?

 

FERDINAND

No!

 

TOM

Ursula?

 

FERDINAND

I’m ocean acidification!

 

TOM

Of course. The Lemons.

 

FERDINAND

Ph of the sea is rising out of control.

 

TOM

It’s terrifying.

 

FERDINAND

Absolutely! I mean, there’s no point dressing up for Halloween unless you’re going to be something actually terrifying and I thought what is more terrifying than ocean acidification? I mean, there’s capitalism and climate change, I guess, but this seemed a less likely candidate, plus I get to use all these shells and sequins and actually, when you think of the things you should be scared of, it’s always the things you least suspect and I do think it’s terrifying that the ocean can be so huge – like, 90% of it unknown to humans – and still we’re capable of fucking up its chemical balance. What?

 

FERDINAND looks at TOM.

TOM looks back – there are so many things he’s thinking, from ‘I love you’ to ‘I wish we could have one night not talking about climate change’ so what he says is:

 

TOM

Nothing. It’s nothing.

 

FERDINAND continues to get ready.

TOM watches.

PLAY #253: PLENTY OF FISH IN THE SEA (AUGUST 31)

Two friends in their twenties – ALEX and SAM.

ALEX passes a phone to SAM.

 

SAM

I don’t know, I’ve tried everything.

 

ALEX

This is different.

 

SAM

I’m tired of swiping or writing profiles.

 

ALEX

Trust me.

 

SAM

I don’t trust you but-

 

ALEX

Desperation opens many doors?

 

SAM

Sure.

 

SAM looks at phone.

 

SAM

Is this a joke?

 

ALEX

No.

 

SAM

These are…

 

ALEX

Amazing.

 

SAM

All jellyfish.

 

ALEX

I know.

 

SAM puts phone down.

ALEX picks it up.

 

ALEX

Give it a try.

 

SAM

You’re dating a jellyfish?

 

ALEX

It’s the future.

 

SAM

This is a joke.

 

ALEX

I have found happiness.

 

SAM

I need more wine.

 

ALEX

And I think you can too. Look at this one.

 

SAM

Like maybe a glass the size of a valley.

 

ALEX

Think about it: this is the future.

 

SAM

Jellyfish?

 

ALEX

Yes! The way the ocean is acidifying, we’re in prime jellyfish territory. Soon there won’t be much left in the ocean.

 

SAM

I guess I’ll have to cancel Tuesday’s date with a dolphin.

 

ALEX

You should; they’ll never survive the PH rise.

 

SAM

You’re really dating a jellyfish?

 

ALEX

Why I got that big tank.

 

SAM

And what about…

 

ALEX

Sex? Bit of a sting, if you like that kind of thing, but it’s not necessary. Jellyfish are very self-contained, they can reproduce asexually. I can look after myself beside the tank. It’s cleaner, really.

 

SAM

What about love?

 

ALEX

What’s not to love about a jellyfish?

(beat.)

The way I look at it, it’s simple. Climate change is going to fuck the planet up. Who’d want to raise a kid in the future we’re facing? Jellyfish are the future. We can either band together collectively to do something and change or lifestyles or we can protect our own happiness in the face of doom. Another great thing about jellyfish: they never worry about the future.

 

Pause.

 

SAM

Where do I sign up?

PLAY #216: A TUNNEL BORING MACHINE NAMED FIONNUALA (JULY 20)

Mayo, Ireland.

By the sea, a large tunnel boring machine in the distance.

FIONNUALA and AODH fly in: two swans, several centuries old, but children, really, they are.

 

AODH

I didn’t think that was your style, Fionnuala.

 

FIONNUALA

Desperate times.

 

AODH

That was awesome: you’ve got a brilliant aim.

 

FIONNUALA

Centuries of practice.

 

AODH

Ah, I always knew you were full of shit.

 

The pair of them eat worms, laugh.

 

AODH

Do you think they’ll call one after me?

 

FIONNUALA

Why do you want a tunnel boring machine named after you? Talk about boring!

 

AODH

It’d be something.

 

FIONNUALA

I’d tear that thing from the ground with my beak if I could: the cheek, naming it after me.

 

AODH

Good to be remembered.

 

FIONNUALA

After all we’ve been through.

 

AODH

People are always just remembering your name and forgetting the three other boys.

 

FIONNUALA

Like we haven’t seen how the ocean is changing.

 

AODH

And it’s a pretty awesome thing.

 

FIONNUALA

Like the sea isn’t bitter enough with our tears.

 

AODH

You wouldn’t even see the shite from this far away, that’s how big it is.

 

FIONNUALA

And still they’re going on drilling for gas and no thought for the mythological creatures who are doomed to spend their time by the sea.

 

AODH

I’d say Aodh the tbm would be even bigger than Fionnuala.

 

FIONNUALA

I’d be crying more tears at the cheek of it, if these eyes weren’t wrung out.

 

AODH

He’d be able to smash all sorts of things, like an underwater Transformer!

 

FIONNUALA

It isn’t funny, Aodh. Here they are pushing through farmlands and ripping up oil from the ocean and carbon dioxide rising and the ocean acidifying and they have the gall to name the bloody thing after a bird. Like there’s anything natural about that contraption, about natural gas.

 

Pause.

 

AODH

Not much natural about us, though, is there? Children who live as swans for centuries.

 

FIONNUALA

I suppose.

 

Pause.

 

FIONNUALA

Will we head so?

 

AODH

I want to see their face when they have to clean it.

 

FIONNUALA

They’ll have some machine to do that, I’d say.

 

AODH

Oh yeah?

 

FIONNUALA

Maybe it’ll be called Aodh.

 

A small laugh, they fly off.

 

PLAY #165: THE BOY WHO COULD HEAR THE SEA (MAY 22)

A kid’s bedroom.

JASON, about 12, is sleeping.

 

KATIE in her 30s, enters, checks that JASON is sleeping.

She walks over to his bedside table, looking for something.

She opens a drawer.

 

GREG, also in his 30s, enters.

KATIE looks back, caught.

 

KATIE

I was just…

 

GREG

We agreed not to…

 

KATIE

I had to…

GREG

You shouldn’t-

 

KATIE

You’ll wake Jase-

 

GREG

You’re the one snooping.

 

KATIE

Not snooping. Checking. It’s not right.

 

GREG

It’s just a stage.

 

KATIE

Did you have a phase of thinking you could talk to the ocean?

 

GREG

No, but I had my fair share of imaginary friends.

 

KATIE

At 12?

 

GREG

Imaginary girlfriends. Some of them were pretty hot. Especially when I caught them trespassing.

 

KATIE

I’m not in the mood, Greg.

 

KATIE closes the drawer.

 

GREG

You know there aren’t any here.

 

KATIE

I know that Jason’s still upset.

 

GREG

Our house is like the kingdom in sleeping beauty where they destroy all the spinning wheels.

 

KATIE

You’re not here during the day.

 

GREG

Not a shell to be found.

 

KATIE

You don’t know the things he says.

 

GREG

You should have heard the rubbish I said when I was 12.

 

KATIE

I hear enough of it now.

 

GREG

Get some sleep, I can scope out this joint.

 

KATIE

I’m not tired.

 

GREG

Get some whisky then.

 

KATIE

When are we going to talk about this?

 

GREG

Isn’t that all we do?

 

KATIE

Properly.

 

GREG

Tomorrow. I promise. I’ve had a long day. I know you have too.

 

KATIE

I’m worried about him.

 

GREG

Me too.

 

GREG kisses KATIE: go on, it’ll be okay, it’s under control.

KATIE exits.

GREG paces for a moment, waiting for something.

JASON sits up in bed.

GREG looks over.

 

 

GREG

de Nero has nothing on you kiddo.

 

JASON

Did you get it?

 

GREG

You’re sure you don’t just want to sleep?

 

JASON

You know I can’t until-

 

GREG

Kiddo, this has to stop. Your Mum’s right, we have to talk-

 

JASON

If you want me to sleep you should skip the lecture. It’ll be faster.

 

GREG

My Dad would have clocked me if I talked to him like that.

 

JASON

Ain’t progress swell!

 

GREG sighs, takes a shell out of his pocket.

JASON restrains himself from immediately grabbing it.

GREG hands it to him.

JASON holds the shell.

GREG watches: he should leave; he can’t.

JASON holds the shell to his ear.

JASON listens.

For a long time – GREG watching JASON listen to the shell, in his own world.

GREG waiting for JASON to acknowledge him.

Nothing.

 

GREG

Kiddo…

 

Nothing – JASON listening to the shell.

 

 

GREG

Jase…

 

Nothing.

GREG paces for a moment.

GREG takes away the shell: not without a struggle.

JASON stays still for a moment, in a different world.

GREG holds the shell.

 

GREG

Your Mum can’t see this…

 

JASON

No.

 

GREG

Jase…

 

JASON

Don’t ask me.

 

GREG

You know I can’t be trekking to the beach every day.

 

JASON

I can sleep now.

 

GREG

There aren’t even that many of them left-

 

JASON

You don’t need to tell me. Soon there’ll be nothing left to hear. You won’t have anything to worry about.

 

GREG

Kiddo, you know that’s not what-

 

JASON

I’m tired now.

 

GREG

It’s not normal for a twelve year old to-

 

JASON

Care about the world? It’s totally normal to care about the sea. Adults just forget how to listen.

beat.

You really want to know what I hear?

beat.

I thought not. It’s easier that way.

 

GREG

Jase, you know we’re going to-

 

JASON

I’m tired, Dad. Night.

 

GREG

Jason, we have to talk about this-

 

JASON’s head is already on the pillow.

GREG sighs.

 

GREG

Night.

 

JASON curls into the bed.

GREG stands watching him.

GREG looks at the shell.

 

Faint sounds of the sea – something between a whale song and a lament, faint, about to vanish forever.

 

GREG turns out the light, exits.

 

PLAY #143: FLOW INTO THE FUTURE (APRIL 27)

A meeting at the Union of Liquids.

LIQUIDS talk amongst themselves.

SPIN POP FIZZ, a human PR agent, enters, holding a plastic water bottle.

WATER represented by multiple actors.

 

WATER

you’re not a liquid

 

SPIN POP FIZZ

technically

humans are 90% water

 

WATER

not PR agents

you’re 100% bull-

 

SPIN POP FIZZ

Sit!

I come on behalf of a new dynamic liquid

 

WATER

we’re not letting natural gas join the Union of Liquids.

 

SPIN POP FIZZ holds up plastic water bottle.

 

SPIN POP FIZZ

let’s not make our heads spin with too much taxonomy

shouldn’t liquids be more fluid in their categorization!?

what is liquefied natural gas if not a liquid?

who are you to enforce divisions between substances?

hasn’t gas been especially accommodating to water vapor in the Union of Gases?

why wouldn’t you want LNG mingling with your group?

 

WATER

because LNG has a larger carbon impact than shale gas

because Port Amborse

where you’re trying to build an LNG port

is the very site for an offshore wind farm

 

SPIN POP FIZZ

why can’t we have it all?

isn’t that what our great leader says?

little bit of renewables

little bit of fracking

we’ll all be happy

once we’re not eating coal.

 

WATER

the windfarm can’t co-exist with LNG

because the risks of explosion are too high.

 

SPIN POP FIZZ

exaggeration!

LNG is as safe and natural as water.

 

WATER

except that it’s destroying us.

the more we frack

the faster the ocean turns acidic

the quicker we liquids change-

 

SPIN POP FIZZ

what’s wrong with a little acid?

don’t you get bored of having the same PH?

to be honest

I think water could do with a little fizz

 

WATER

we’re not letting LNG join the Union of Liquids

we won’t!

 

WATER starts to chant: NO LNG, NO LNG!

SPIN POP FIZZ smiles an implacable smile, holds up the plastic bottle.

 

SPIN POP FIZZ

flow with the future

don’t get fossilized in the past

liquidified natural gas

the next generation of fuel

coming to a port near you

as fast as freedom!