Royal Court founder George Devine, believed in making work that was ‘in advance of normal public taste’. Recent collaborative piece 2071 from director Katie Mitchell, writer Duncan Macmillan, and climate scientist Chris Rapley at The Royal Court, certainly lives up to his expectation.
2071 initially seemed in contrast to my own taste; I hate to admit it but climate change is not something I tend to worry about, and my theatrical preference does not usually surround performances with such low ‘theatricality’. Nonetheless, this piece captivated me, opened my eyes to a serious issue and affected me to want to promote change.
Theatre broadly involves ‘theatricality’, stories are told through spectacle, in one form or another. What 2071 cleverly does is strip back the theatrics, and rely completely on subject matter to speak for itself. 2071 is a scientific lecture; performed without adornment of character, story, or even action (beyond the speaker reaching for a glass of water). Teamed with meticulously timed and rather hypnotic projections, the piece explains the seriously damaging effects that climate change will have on our planet over the next few decades. However simple, I was engaged.
We tend to not reminisce on the middle-ground, but the ground-breaking in theatre. We think of radical shifts, when practitioners and writers suggest something new in form or style; Stanislavsky, Artuad, or Punchdrunk. I feel Devine intended to encourage work that challenges form and is not always expected. How will we ever learn something new about the craft, or indeed the world around us if we do not strive to push limits and try something new? 2071 certainly did this for me, but if the serious topic was presented within the normal theatrical conventions, would it have affected me in the same way?
2071 will be revived 23rd & 24th January at The Royal Court. Though perhaps not your usual preference I encourage you to see this piece to understand the very real threat Climate Change presents to our planet and why we need to make a change, and soon.