By Daniel Nelson

Youngsters, we are constantly told, have enthusiastically taken up the cause of combatting climate change. And the Arcola in London aims to be the world’s first carbon neutral theatre. When they came together the result was Voices From the Future.

The theatre took three young playwrights from London Metropolitan University and three from an open brief on Ideas Tap (a charity set up to help young, creative people at the start of their careers) and gave them a week-long workshop.

They also had three evening discussions with “leading thinkers and academics” in sustainability, the arts and climate change, and spent a half-day with students from Hungerford primary school testing ideas.

On Sunday the six works were given a “rehearsed reading” (with the emphasis on reading rather than rehearsed) to a small audience at the Arcola.

The playlets covered a wide range of topics and moods, taking in fantasy (in the unexpected form of feral litter), affection, humour, marital tension, rain, the search for land in a future world and acute moral dilemmas – including a woman trying to live out  an environmentally sound, non-exploitative life who is fatally undermined by the realisation of the futility of her task if others do not espouse it too (a view counterbalanced by another piece about a fisherman facing declining stocks, growing poverty and a failing marriage who argues in favour of Doing the Right Thing in the hope that others will follow).

The writers’ motivations were equally diverse, as became clear in a post-performance discussion.

·         “I’m struck by the amount of things we are asked to do to make the world a better place, but to what effect?”

·         “I’m interested in activism, and public understanding.”

·         “I’m interested in people and how humanity gets on with it, despite tragedies.”

·         “I realised we weren’t going to change unless crisis is imminent… Anything could happen but we can’t sit on our hands.”

·         “One of the challenges was to strip away the preachy things.”

·         “I wanted to have some effect on a number of people.”

This event was a bold and interesting idea, and the results were brim-full of talent and promise. But as one writer said, “The question is how we can magnify the evening, not just repeat it.”

· Green Acola Theatrethe theatre has launched a platform for visual artists engaging with science and sustainability. The first of a series of bi-monthly exhibitions is a solo show by Holly Owen, whose work “questions contemporary nature-culture relationships and perceptions of disrupted environments”.

· Greening Theatre

· Arcola: renewable energy

· Sustainability Arcola: origins and accomplishments

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