Changing theatre: fugitive natures in darkened rooms

This talk was the warm-up act for two performances: ‘Volcano’ by Clerke and Joy and ‘The ‘See You Later’ Capital’ by Massive Owl.

‘I was asked to talk about ‘environmental theatre’, but discovered that both Clerke and Joy and Massive Owl do not want to be identified with anything environmental. How could these two plays about the vastness and unpredictability of geology – the volcano –  and the indeterminacy in the metabolisms of human social, economic and artefactual systems – which is the transience of the city and capital – not be thought of as ecological?

It’s a common response. There’s an embarrassment about ‘nature’ that has to do with the history and habits of theatre …

Theatre borrows. It’s a porous form. Much current environmental-ist theatre borrows the languages from other kinds of environmental knowledge, and accepts them, works with them, even places them onstage.  This borrowing of languages can often represent a limitation of experience and of imagination, as if sufficient knowledge existed through these other disciplines and practices and it was up to theatre just to adapt or translate in a theatre-kind of way.

I want to argue strongly for developing methods for inquiry, methods for devising and practice that will open up experience and creativity in ways that explore and meddle with nature-human relations, and for being impatient with the existing practices and conventions of theatre.

I’m looking forward to the day when, in addition to the critical work that finds what is essential about theatre at any given historical time, that marks its evolutions, whether that’s by the ideas of presence, or the unmarked, or the post-dramatic, there will be concepts that we haven’t thought of yet, concepts that describe theatre’s way of making evident, of showing, of bringing into presence, the human as related to the other than human’.

at University College Falmouth 2013