In R&D: Cosmic Fear Or The Day Brad Pitt Got Paranoia

Our Assistant Director, Chelsey Gillard, reflects on the work we’ve been immersed in on our last day in the rehearsal room….

Where to start?

How do you even begin to comprehend a play that discusses the need for human connection, our celebrity obsession and the insidious irony of pop culture all within the frame of climate change?

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Cosmic Fear certainly isn’t a text I would ever be able to begin to understand on my own. I always think of theatre as a team sport and thankfully this team is amazing! The first reading with the performers on Monday suddenly unlocked the frantic rhythms of the text and made it a much more tangible thing – a performable thing.

Exploring such huge and ‘worthy’ topics through Kay’s exciting mix of game play and discussion, has allowed the performers to stay free. One minute we can be discovering the horror of ship breaking in developing countries, the next earnestly discussing the impact of cow farts on the environment and then trying to embody the ridiculous gloriousness of Angelina Jolie.

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The refreshing thing for me about Cosmic Fear is that there is no apathy. The characters within the play may have no idea what they are fighting for or how to achieve it but still they try. It’s certainly a recurring idea within the text, “It doesn’t matter. As long as you do it.” But of course you then get caught up again in the self perpetuating cycle of the whys and hows, to the point of re-establishing inertia.

Structurally this piece is genius in its imitation of that cycle of having a great idea and trying to passionately articulate it only to realise the cracks that lie within. The twists of normal conversation become the sections of the play – running away with enthusiasm only to be paralysed by paranoid fear.

This play has made me question what are we fighting for? Really fighting for? Of course we know that climate change is bad, the destruction of biodiversity is bad, natural disasters are bad. But what does this mean for us as the human race? Can Utopia exist and what would that look like? Do we need to reach rock bottom, the apocalypse or rapture before we can come out the other side? Or is life and death just the way of things in which the human race and even Planet Earth are only given a limited amount of time? And if we do strive for a better planet, to reduce climate change, who are we doing it for? Can one human being make a difference, what do our cultural leaders think and what are our governments doing?

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Amongst these questions I’ve discovered so much this week; from the surprising fact that carrots are only orange thanks to selective breeding, to the radical views of Deep Green thinkers. Yet still I’m no closer to understanding what the play means. I’m hoping that one of you may be able to help me work it out. But I am certain that tomorrow’s sharing will be exciting, entertaining and make you laugh but also leave you questioning your own stance of the issues presented.

If you do leave wanting to take some kind of action but you aren’t sure how, here are a few ideas, judge them as you will.

Scattered through this blog post are some links to interesting articles we have discovered as a small part of our research. I hope you also find them in some way useful or at least entertaining.

And see you tomorrow, 7.30pm, at The Other Room, for our first scratch performance of this maddening play!

Haven’t booked your ticket yet? Book now!