2017: Writing the Script for an Unknown Future

Happy New Year!

After a momentous 2016 we are excited to announce we’ve been awarded seed funding from the TippingPoint & House Commission for a new project for the year ahead! We also welcome Lucy Coren as resident Dramaturg to the company after her brilliant work with us during the summer.

All future collaborations and events will soon be announced.


In 2016 we decided to take an unknown play from Denmark to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A play about climate change. Or – our inability to talk about climate change, know how to talk about it, fully believe in it, deal with our proven culpability, get over the feeling of powerlessness, and find a course of action all without feeling like a self-righteous egotistical hypocrite or having an existential panic attack along the way. (Wait – am I talking about the characters or the creative team?)

“Cosmic Fear or The Day Brad Pitt Got Paranoia”.

We have a huge team of creatives and producers to thank as well as our supporters who made this project possible. You know who you are. Thank You.

Moving forwards we’ve been reflecting on the year that’s gone and what it means for our engagement on a topic such as climate change. In our Cosmic Cafe with Dr Stuart Capstick we spoke of the idea of ‘riot theatre’ which had caught our imaginations at the time. We spoke of ‘waking up our audiences’. We’ve reflected since on whether hope for a better future is unthinkable without anger, without rage and urgency. If disruptions to normal narratives are needed what do they look like? What role do stories have in the ‘Post-Truth’ world we’re apparently now in? We made Cosmic Fear during the depressing confusion of Brexit, but before Trump smacked the world on the face. Is it time now, 7 months post-referendum and 14 days pre-inauguration to get angry, punk, and wised up to the structural powers that need targeting via our art and the actions of our daily lives, individually and collectively?
We feel more now than ever there is the need to talk with our audiences.

“Radical is not saying how terrible the world is but opening our minds to creating something else”
John Holloway, Rediscovering the Radical

The characters in Cosmic Fear were dreaming up a blockbuster in which global hero Brad Pitt would lead, and that could transform the consciousness of the entire world. Sadly for them and Brad, Leo got there first. Leonardo Dicaprio’s award-winning documentary Before The Flood, which premiered in October, wowed, baffled and perhaps guilt-tripped the mainstream by documenting the global climate disasters that are occurring right now. But there was one little documentary that slipped under the radar: Josh Fox’s How To Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Change, released in January 2016 and which was screened at the Hive community. It has left a deep impression.

From a place of overwhelming despair, acknowledging the race against time for the human race to save civilisation as we know it, Fox begins a grieving process for a world that is heading towards an increase in global temperature beyond 1.5 degrees (yes – despite the Paris Agreements). He decides to let go of the regret of centuries of carbon emissions and puts his attention bravely to those things that climate change can’t destroy. This moment of surrender, this private revolution, brings him face to face with global examples of courage, creativity, music, culture, dance, resilience, innovation, joy, laughter, song, ownership, responsibility, community, love, care, and generosity in the face of some of the climate disasters that are already here devastating parts of the world. His is a fight to bring to light those human principles valued around the world and that need to be harnessed during the challenges we will inevitably face. And he uses his despair as a rock to anchor him as he keeps moving forwards.

Josh Fox, How To Let Go Of The World…

Theatre’s lasting power, for us at Empty Deck, is that it remains an ephemeral inclusive space, a place for community building. Inclusive is important. For so many reasons it is time to think deeply about how we engage with and talk to people that think differently to ourselves and with whom we think there’s little to agree on. I think what makes climate change so potentially polemic is that it is a truth that cannot be denied but that challenges people in so many different and often discreet ways. That doesn’t mean we should shirk from talking about it. It is the largest story of collective survival I think the human race has ever seen.

“The role of the scientist and that of the artist is to make the invisible visible”
Lucy Wood, of Cape Farewell

We take this notion forward into 2017 as we work on our next commission. Working with partners in my hometown of Bedford we will be holding conversations with a diverse range of people on the street to explore how we can foster positive dialogue and create both disruptive and constructive art in response to this increasing social dilemma. Art that can appeal to people’s sense of social responsibility and make direct political demands.

“Meeting the 2°C target will require an unprecedented level of disruptive change. This won’t be achieved unless we embark upon a process of meaningful public dialogue to work out our collective response.”
Dr Stuart Capstick

Happy New Year to all. The hard work has only just begun…

Click on our little picture to sum up some of the “climate milestones” of 2016…

Peter Brook Awards

We were absolutely honoured to be nominated for the Peter Brook Festival Award for Emerging Company, alongside our friends FellSwoop Theatre and award winners Kadinsky Theatre.

A Peter Brook Award is an incredibly prestigious award to be nominated for. It is recognised across the world as a mark of innovation and quality. We were shortlisted for our ‘stunningly performed and deftly directed’ Then Silence at the Incoming Festival, New Diorama.

Here’s our celebratory team picture and our V&A printed award poster:

team pic

award poster

Thanks to A Younger Theatre, New Diorama, V&A and the National Theatre Studio!

Introducing Tracy Harris – Writer, Performance Artist and Everything In Between..

We’re thrilled to be in conversation with Swansea-born, Cardiff-resident Tracy Harris about taking on the role of dramaturge for Cosmic Fear or The Day Brad Pitt Got Paranoia

In preparation for the work, and as we look at getting closer to nature and plan for the survival of the human race, we ask Tracy what five items she would carry in her rucksack on a hike through the woods:

1. A torch
2. A warm sleeping bag (I hate being cold)
3. Lighter (to make a fire- (I think I got taught once in brownies!)
4. Food and drink supplies
5. A map (not that I’m any good at reading them- but figured it may be a good chance to learn)

TRacy H

Tracy’s a writer, performance artist and filmmaker. Her plays include Past Away (Sgript Cymru) The Cloak Room (Sherman Cymru/ Mighty Theatre, Washington) and No Vacancies (Sherman Cymru) which has been commissioned by spinning head films as a feature film. The Reading, the short film she produced, was selected for the short film corner at Cannes Film festival. Along with Chris Rushton, she directed and produced the 9 part BBC Bafta nominated documentaries Swansea Living On The Streets and most recently Selling Sex to Survive about prostitution in South Wales. Her first one woman show Lost, Found, Stolen was performed at Sprint Festival at Camden’s people’s Theatre and Volcano Theatre. Her second show Bottled, developed with Greg Wohead and Justin Cliffe was at Experimentica, Chapter and Bristol Ferment. She is the recipient of the 2015 Creative Wales award, where she is researching and developing her practise in Documentary theatre and is currently working with Theatr Iolo on 20-16, a documentary theatre piece for teenagers.

We like Tracy a lot, and we want to guarantee her being able to work with us. So, with a matter of hours to go – pledge your support now!

Video Artist Jorge Lizalde

We’ve started conversations with Spanish-born and Cardiff-based Moving Image Artist JORGE LIZALDE about our R&D on Christian Lollike’s play Cosmic Fear or the Day Brad Pitt Got Paranoia.

From live projection mapping onto trees at Green Man Festival, to LED memory installations in parks, and video collaborations with dancers, Jorge is one of the most exciting and sought after artists in Cardiff making work using still and moving image. We’ve already started discussing multimedia ideas for the staging of ‘Cosmic Fear’, such as exploring its sit-com style and the actors’ creation of Brad Pitt’s movie using live video feed. But to guarantee him working with us we need to make sure we reach our Kickstarter target!

Check out Jorge’s work on his website here, and if you like what you see, make your pledge of support today! We want to pin him down in our diary!

jorge Cinematopeia, June 2014

jorge 2 Mnemonic Installation at g39 Gallery, Cardiff

jorge 4
Mnemonic Installation at g39 Gallery, Cardiff

jorge1 Editing My Father Installation, at FFOTOGALLERY

Cymru & I, National Theatre Wales
Cymru & I, National Theatre Wales

Introducing Movement Director Sara Green

We have officially entered the last week of our Kickstarter Campaign! As part of our daily countdown, we intend to bring you exciting updates from the team…

First up: We catch up with mover and shaker Sara Green, who is currently in rehearsals for Anita and Me at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.


Why movement?
Any opportunity to crack out a box step and I’m there. In reality there’s two metal rods holding my spine in place and they -apart from ending my ballet career at the delicate age of 14- remind me daily of how wonderfully complex and able the human body is as well as it’s ultimate fragility. Dealing with a restricted body forces me to analyse physical expression to a level far beyond technical training and led to a postgraduate return to Laban. Now I’m continually finding new avenues in which movement can be a strong, insightful and instructive influence, from working with fashion designers and film makers to neuroscientists and Bhangra dancers.

Do you have a piece of theatre that you’ve seen that has stayed with you more than any other?
Six Women Standing In Front of a White Wall from Australian company Motherboard. I saw it almost 8 years ago at the Fringe, it did incredible things to the audience.

Which choreographer inspires you the most or influences your practice?
Charmatz, for his approach to and consideration of performance. I was lucky enough to help him prepare for his Tate Modern take over earlier this year and am now an avid preacher of his gospel.

What do you see as being the difference between movement, dance, and theatre?
Movement is a basic human requirement, dance and theatre are forms of expression, speaking in a spectrum of storytelling and aesthetics. It’s impossible to compare the three.

What’s been your favourite place to visit in the world and why?
A place in the Alps. I can’t be specific – I love it because it’s completely removed from everything.

What country is number one on your list to go to that you haven’t been to before?
Japan, one of the few countries I still think of as mysterious. But also because I’d like to learn at least one of the martial arts. I’m pretty sure they’re one of the key originators of performed movement.

What does Empty Deck mean to you?
An opportunity to work with a blank page and an abstraction. A wild ideas forum.

Find out more about Sara, her work, and her nearly 10-year collaboration with Director Kay Michael here

Sneak Peek Of Our Winning Winter Snoods!

As part of our Kickstarter Campaign we’re giving away exclusive hand-knitted Scandinavian print snoods, for donations of £100 or more.

Get your mitts on these exclusive winter warmers, featuring the Empty Deck logo.

Hand-made by our web designer and endlessly crafty Bonnie Kate Wolf.

sood 1

snood 2


snood 4

Only a handful of these are still available, so get pledging!
More of Bonnie’s work can be seen here