Sunday, May 28, 2017


Seymour Centre presents 2071, by Duncan Macmillan and Chris Rapley, in association with Australian Theatre For Young People (ATYP), in the Everest Theatre, at the Seymour Centre, Chippendale. 26 May - 10 June.

2071 was first presented at the Royal Court Theatre in 2014, with Chris Rapley, one of the world's leading climate scientists, investigating the central question: Is human-induced climate change real? Professor Rapley CBE, M.A., P.H.D., D.S.C. was a co-writer with Duncan Macmillan, and 'performer'. The work has been kept updated with the present science.

In Sydney, John Gaden has taken on the formidable task of making the science and the logistics of the text a palatable experience for the audience. Mr Gaden's grasp of the material, which he seamlessly reads, amplified, from a monitor, is informed by his intelligent cogency and remarkable vocal instrument, that suspends some of us into hearing the work with arrested interest, and maybe growing alarm.

It is essentially an informative 70-minute lecture with pleasing vividly illustrated Media Artwork (Joe Crossley), a collaborative Composition and Sound Design (Andree Greenwell), with the assistance of six young performers from the Australian Theatre For Young People, who speak some of the text and create movement patterns (Patricia Wood) to support the 'action'.

Tim Jones, the Director of this production, believes the arts can play an important role in understanding and revealing the complexities of the challenges that affect the modern world, and, so, presents 2071 as part of the Seymour Centre's GREAT IDEAS SERIES, "where it presents 'artful' provocations, responding to big issues as a kind of community catalyst for discussion, inspired by thoughtful and rigorous theatre-making."

2071 will provoke discussion about the urgency of the Climate Change crisis, but it is likely to be amongst the converted. And, certainly the question: "Is this theatre? or, a University, Writer's Festival Talk?" was another subject of discussion in the foyer afterwards - perhaps the dominant one.

Whatever the answer, the attempt to put forward such overwhelming facts about the science of Climate Change is an important one. There will be, as well, on the 30th May, 5th and 8th of June a post-show discussion and Q&A with some experts. It would have been be interesting to have a work of reply to balance out the night and embrace the controversy of inaction more immediately.

More than fascinating, 2071 is sobering. The poignancy of having a chorus of young children: Lucy Brownlie, Sasha Rose, Ellery Joyce, Matthew Simmons, Jacqueline Morrison and Heath Jelovic onstage, knowing that they will be probably facing the predicted dilemmas of the heritage of their forbears, which includes us, grips those of us with children with an urgency that must provoke our casual attitudes to the question and consequent feelings of impotence. It will need a collective action from the world for change to happen swiftly enough. Is that possible knowing the recorded history of our species?

One of the supporters of 2071 is Vivid Ideas Sydney. Ironic, really. One of the ways to begin to make a positive contribution to lessening this city's carbon footprint would be to close down the month long energy devouring Vivid Festival (and the New Year's Fireworks), might I propose? NSW Events might not be pleased.

Ah, well. What is that story about Nero fiddling while Rome was burning? Good grief.

Grief, indeed.

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