Performing Planet Activism: Theatre Making and Climate Activism

We teamed up with ShyBairn Theatre to explore how their practice could be of benefit to researchers through performance workshops and discussion.

A figure in dark clothing sits with their back to us on the floor. In front of them is a large sheet hung from the ceiling with a close-up image of a mouth projected onto it.

About the project

Part of Performing Planet Activism, a series of interactions, performances and dialogues at UCL that bring together artists, activists, researchers and communities engaged in climate activism.

We teamed up with ShyBairn Theatre to explore how their practice could be of benefit to researchers, through performance workshops and discussion.

•    Creatively explore research
•    Connect with artists, researchers, and activists to share knowledge & expertise with the wider public
•    Support campaigns for climate justice by collaborating with researchers, climate activists & artists

ShyBairn Theatre

A theatre company who devise live performance for social change, ShyBairn collaborate with artists and activists to make theatre alongside campaigns for justice. They create performance as a form of climate activism, platforming experiences of those impacted the most by the climate crisis and helping people visualise an alternative future.

Q&A with Company Director and Lead Producer Caitlin Evans

How can theatre-making aid activist campaigns for climate justice?

Theatre-making is a practice of storytelling. We need to share stories about the reality of the climate crisis. Through theatre we can bring people together in a live event where we feel part of a community, feeling and taking part in something as a collective. As artists we believe there is a huge power in theatre to evoke empathy, inspire action and spark conversations that continue beyond the theatre into homes, offices, classrooms, pubs...

In our play BURNOUT we share the experience of climate activists on the frontlines in the UK, those who can't afford to 'get arrested' as part of their activism and those who may be impacted but not feel part of a 'climate movement'. In THIS IS WHAT UTOPIA LOOKS LIKE we work with climate academics on the big ideas for the future, to provide a space for audiences to visualise a positive, alternative society. We hope our performances can sit alongside activist campaigns - and be part of their storytelling. 

What role can creativity play alongside activism burnout?

We partnered with The Resilience Project to create BURNOUT, which explores the burnout of the planet alongside the mental and physical burnout of activists trying to save it. They share tools for managing eco-anxiety and burnout - find out more on their website!

Creativity is a way of expressing yourself, a form of activism and a tool for mindfulness. Sharing your experience creatively can help activists to reflect and feel part of a community - which are both really important to stay healthy in activism.

Can you tell us more about ShyBairn Theatre?

We are an award-winning early career company which I founded whilst studying an MFA Advanced Theatre Practice at Central School of Speech and Drama in 2019. We've made three projects: TALK PROPA, a play about the stereotypes of northern women, BURNOUT, an interactive play about privilege, activism and climate justice, and THIS IS WHAT UTOPIA LOOKS LIKE, a performance installation to re-imagine the future of society.

We work sustainably using Theatre Green Book resources and are looking to work with climate scientists/academics as well as our growing group of climate activists for future projects!

Find out more about ShyBairn Theatre at shybairntheatre.co.uk

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