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…