After the success of Stephen Emmott’s “Ten Billion” in 2012, Director Katie Mitchell is bringing a new play about climate change to the Royal Court, opening on November 5th at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs.
It’s by Duncan Macmillan and Chris Rapley, and it’s called 2071. In an interview at
Macmillan explains his thinking:
“There’s nothing I can do in my life to compensate for the fact that the world would be better without me in it,” says Duncan Macmillan, smiling over his coffee.
Whereupon the journalist tapped him affectionately on the shoulder and said: “Come, come there old chap. We all have days like that, but you’ll get over it.”
Well, no, actually she didn’t. She (her name is Catherine Love) continues the article:
“It’s a bleak statement, but one that the writer and director explains is grounded in climate science. Each of us in the west, with our hefty carbon footprints, is a drain on the planet’s resources.”
Now if Macmillan truly thinks that the world would be better off without him, then he is suffering from severe depression and should seek medical help immediately.
And if Macmillan believes that his suicidal tendencies are “grounded in climate science” then he should consult a climate scientist immediately. Or perhaps not.
2071 is “a new project for the Royal Court that he is co-writing with climate scientist Chris Rapley. For the past six months, the two men have been meeting regularly at University College London, trading their respective expertise in an attempt to bring climate change centre stage.”
Chris Rapley chaired a conference of psychoanalysts back in 2010 devoted to the question of how to make their patients more depressed and dysfunctional than they already were by getting them to face the truth about global warming, I took a look at this at
Rapley went on to write the introduction to the book of the conference, and an Amazon review of the book. I look forward to his reviews of his play.
It’s called 2071 because: “‘2071 is the year my oldest grandchild will be the age I am now.’ says Chris Rapley, Climate Scientist.”
Director Katie Mitchell also had an article in the Guardian last month, in praise of continental night trains:
“I’m fighting to save night trains – the ticket to my daughter’s future” is the rather grand title, and there’s a lot about carbon emissions and the pain and suffering involved in having a job which obliges you to ponce about Europe.
“I stopped flying in 2011. At the time, I was working with the scientist Stephen Emmott, developing a show, Ten Billion, about population growth, climate change and the environmental changes taking place as a result of human activity. The project made me realise that if I wanted to change the way the world worked, I had to change something about how I lived. Specifically, I had to change the way I travelled: I was in the middle of a period of intense work in theatres and opera houses across mainland Europe, taking more than 40 flights a year. […] carbon dioxide emissions from a one-way London-Paris trip amount to 3.2kg by train, 74.6 kilograms by car and 72.1 kilograms by plane.”
Well yes dear. But that depends on the train being full of passengers. If there’s just you and your daughter, it’s not paying, which means it’s got to be subsidised by other people who aren’t forever crisscrossing Europe from one damned opera house to another, and your personal carbon emissions are horrendous – far worse than mine on Ryanair.
The link to her daughter’s future is made thus:
“I was travelling with my eight-year-old daughter when I found out about the end of the City Night Line, which made the situation even more delicate for me. She was one of the reasons I had resolved to reduce my carbon footprint in the first place. I wanted to do something to help her future, so I had made an effort to show her night train travel early and it had become a favourite treat.”
Can we see a pattern emerging here? The play’s name is the year the play’s co-author’s granddaughter will be the age he is now. The director’s daughter is the reason she worries about her carbon footprint and pesters the European Commissioner with petitions to allow her to continue to flounce around Europe at night in old trains. The other author has already written a play about guilt about having children, and now thinks the world would be better off if he didn’t exist – all because of climate change.
As Ben Pile has pointed out, environmentalists’ concern about the future of the planet is really all about me, me, me.
I too have grandchildren who will be the age I am now some time later this century. Not being a climate scientist, I’ve never worked out which year exactly this momentous event will occur. (I have enough difficulty remembering their birthdays). I used to take the kids on cross-European night trains. Not being a world famous director, I did it to get from A to B, not in order to assuage some guilt about existing.
We can all do simple arithmetic, and we all realise that our grandchildren will be the age we are now at some point in the distant future when we have long since popped our clogs. Let’s just decide to leave the place nice and tidy when we go, and let them get on with it.
You can book tickets for 2071 at
Duncan Macmillan, Chris Rapley and Katie Mitchell wil be present in conversation on Tuesday 11 November, post-show.