A Climate Conversation in III Acts


'Pinatubo III' – micro-biosphere, Renata Tyszczuk, 2018.

A Climate Conversation in III Acts

This is the title of a virtual contribution I made with Zoe Svendsen to Anticipation 22 – the 4th International Conference on Anticipation. 'Anticipation 22 will emphasize questions of justice and is devoted to opening up the study of anticipation to new voices, new spaces and new approaches.' The virtual conference took place on 4 November 2022, the in-person event followed, 16-18 November, Tempe, Arizona USA.

An extract from our abstract:

‘Climate Conversations takes the climate crisis not just as a ‘topic’ but explores it as the context of everything we do - in theatre and in our lives. Through the project we will be examining what stories we tell, who for and how. How can facing these challenges sharpen our ingenuity and rigour as artists, as we grapple with the most urgent questions of our time. In an era of extreme jeopardy, where the very future of people across the globe is at stake, we will be asking, who are we? How do we need to change for the planet to survive? And who might we become?’ (Zoe Svendsen, Donmar Warehouse, 2021)

The online presentation will be a ‘rehearsal’ of a ‘climate conversation’ between Zoe Svendsen and Renata Tyszczuk.

Zoe and Renata will discuss experiments with improvisation and performance-based work on climate-changed futures that offered not only the potential for more collective and inclusive responses to these issues but also the space for the imaginative and creative anticipation and deliberation that has been lacking in the public spaces of climate research. The conversation will bring together insights from research, theatre practice and public engagement on climate change. Zoe will draw on her recent experience as Climate Dramaturg (Donmar Warehouse), and as artistic director of theatre company METIS’ series of productions on imagining alternative futures in the context of climate crisis. Renata’s work has been on scenarios, exploring the potential to rethink them as prompts to and support for the collective practice of rehearsed improvisation of climate futures.

The conversation will consider the dramaturgical dimensions of public anticipation of climate futures. It will range across questions of temporality, practice, preparedness, prototyping and improvisation inherent in ideas of rehearsal. The interest is in how modes of rehearsal can open up the political and ethical space around climate change knowledges, rather than mobilising particular kinds of responses to it. It will also consider how interactive and immersive performance-based work can enable processes of sense-making and meaning-making within the social contexts of climate crisis and climatic futures. The conversation will itself be a rehearsal, and as such, a way of paying attention to the to-and-fro of different perspectives, constraints, insights, motivations and anticipations. Moreover, ‘paying attention’ also implies risk-taking, experimentation and thinking through consequences, or ‘care of the possible’ (Stengers, 2015; 2011b). Our hope is that the conversation will hint at the practice of paying attention to the future in the present, and of rehearsing the future otherwise.