How on Earth…
How on Earth do we navigate our rapidly changing world?
Byron Youth Theatre’s latest original production How on Earth (Part 2) is funded by Regional Arts NSW Country Arts Support Program, Northern Rivers Community Foundation, and NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, and is supported by Arts Northern Rivers, the Joyality Project, and the Brunswick Picture House. How on Earth (Part 2) takes the audience on an intriguing journey exploring some hard to face questions! It is set in a possible, not too distant future, in which an inspired young person and her friends seek to learn new ways of being, from a parallel world, to help save themselves and their home planet – but will it work? It features a mesmerising music score and projection compilation, and lighting by local professional youth and older artists, as well as some music very kindly donated by musicians overseas!
Why did you choose to talk about change? How does change affect young people?
As a social action theatre company our main focus is change, and for this production a central message is how we deal with it, or not, especially our changing world. Many young people, and adults, struggle to adapt to change. Young people often experience heightened emotions owing to the massive changes in brain and body development. Add to that a desire to experiment with their independence [alongside] rapid technological, global and social changes and you start to scratch the surface of what they are dealing with.
What are the key areas where young people feel uncertain?
Research conducted in the development of this production, combined with the cast sharing their personal experiences, revealed that many young people are deeply concerned about the future of the planet. The sense of overwhelm owing to the multitude of issues we are currently facing is contributing to a sense of fear, anxiety and depression. From the surveys and interviews we conducted, young people are also extremely frustrated, angry and disillusioned with the actions – or lack of them – by current governments in several parts of the world.
It seems that through the Climate Action Strikes that young people are finding a more militant voice – how are those voices coming together to make change? Is it possible?
Through the Climate Action Strikes, through websites and social media campaigns, young people have found platforms to express their concerns. It is incredible how many inspiring, well organised groups have formed in a short time such as the School Strike for Climate groups, and locally Tell Someone Who Cares. The Australian Youth Climate Coalition, which started with a handful of students in 2006, now has over 100,000 members with numerous grassroots campaigns around the country. Yes, change is possible, more and more initiatives are gaining traction – which all makes a difference.
What ideas informed the parallel world you have created?
Early on in our workshop sessions BYT members and I got really clear that it’s not just about getting involved in all the great projects out there, it is as much about how we interact about all of these issues, with ourselves and others. What mental health strategies can we employ that enable us to stay grounded, acknowledge all our feelings about it, and still take informed positive action. We decided to explore the idea of time and space and connections with parallel worlds to provide a different context to explore the themes; a way of reminding people it’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it that has a great impact.
What was the most surprising thing for you in orchestrating this creative process?
One of the most surprising things is the main piece of the set. I had had visions of us working with geodesic domes, which was going to be tricky, and while at dinner with friends one of them suggested something else. I had never heard of it! Not only was it more symbolic for our play but my friend offered to construct it! Dream come true… you’ll have to come see the play to find out what it is…
What should the audience expect from How on Earth?
An intriguing storyline with many poignant messages, a stellar youth cast, amazing young people who have created the lighting design and who will tech the show, which incorporates amazing projections and a mesmerising soundtrack all being played in one of our region’s most character-filled venues.
The Byron Youth Theatre present How on Earth (Part 2) at the Brunswick Picture House – Wed 25 and Thurs 26 November. Tix at brunswickpicturehouse.com.