While negotiators at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt race to strike a strong climate deal, Singapore playwright-led collaboration Gangguan! presents The Change, an original new work. The one-actor production starring Dennis Sofian (Tartuffe, W!LD RICE) draws upon playwright Edward Eng’s (dead was the body till I taught it how to move, Bhumi Collective) personal experience working on climate policy and difficulty in explaining it.
The Change starts with the stories of two friends. Alex is a bureaucrat who, against the best wishes of his colleagues and constant failure, continues trying his best to effect change. Danial, his old friend from school, spends his days ironing children’s clothes and his nights dabbling in socially-conscious theatre – they begin collaborating on a new piece of climate change communication.
But what happens as the play progresses, and as our encounters with the idea of climate change broaden and become more intense, one realises that the story of climate change is not what it seems to be. Questions are raised on why we have never come across a satisfying novel, film, or performance about climate change. While there are some great ones that use climate change as a vessel to talk about something else and vice versa, few are willing to speak frankly about the big problems, like holding the greenwashers to task or dealing with the psychology of inaction.
With post-dramatic elements, The Change acknowledges that climate change is about any number of issues, many of which are not matters of science.
“You could say it’s about climate policy, denialism, friendship, care, intergenerational trauma, self-censorship, activism, and so on,” says playwright Edward Eng. “But stripped back to its core, we think The Change is still about finding hope in this climate tragedy. And trying not to be too serious about our feelings towards tragedy.”
“If anything, climate change is too important to leave to the professionals. We are in an immense position of privilege and power in Singapore, with one quarter of the world’s traded goods passing through the Singapore Strait. Once we admit that we have a significant responsibility and obligation to act on this emergency, the next thing to do is act.”
“Fortunately for us, we’ve never known less about how to take action. We can tell our MPs that they will lose our vote if they do not speak up. We should do what we can where we are best placed to make change. If you work in the private sector, you can donate directly or encourage your company to support high-impact charities that tackle carbon emissions and other climate issues. If you find yourself in a place where your voice is easily amplified – for instance, you may have a large social media following – you can use your voice to expand the message.”
“But most importantly, stick together and take care of one another while taking action,” Eng adds.
Gangguan! is the collaboration between playwright Edward Eng and other artists, set up to create work covering difficult and ambiguous themes that may result in obstacles to obtaining funding, as well as adopt less commercially viable approaches to artmaking. Other artists involved in The Change include lighting designer Ian Pereira (Make Hantus Great Again, Teater Ekamatra).
The Change plays from 7th to 11th December 2022 at Cairnhill Arts Centre (Teater Kami). Tickets available from Eventbrite
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