what role does the theater play? – The Glasgow keeper
The theater was an influential element of COP26 which deserves more recognition.
The theater has long been a pioneer in conveying social and political messages to audiences. Like any medium that takes on the role of storytelling, creating and telling stories that inspire us to take action for justice is an integral part of theater – and the climate emergency is no exception.
Theater academics are keenly interested in the relationship between theater and the environment. Called “eco-theater”, the performances aim to engage with the environment or the ecosystem. With the current political dialogue in connection with COP26, as well as a push from ordinary people to change their consumption habits, conversations about the climate crisis are at an all time high. Whether intentional or not, eco-theater is engaged in political activism – and rightly so.
“Whether intentional or not, eco-theater is engaged in political activism – and rightly so.”
The National Theater of Scotland (NTS) announced in its “Green Plan” the importance of using theater to inform and educate. The theater noted that it is vital that the performing arts continue to tell stories where characters and scripts are engaged in issues of climate change. At COP26, NTS also invited young students to join Little Amal, a work of art in collaboration with other theaters, on its journey through the city. The purpose of the artwork was to discuss the climate and migrant justice, which are two major activist concerns for which Glasgow has been the focal point in the press and media.
Another fine example of activism within the theater is Glasgow Girls. A political play, based on a true story that focuses on a group of young girls, some of whom come from families of asylum seekers. The play discusses the difficulties they face when the Home Office arrives to remove them from their home in Glasgow. Glasgow Girls is an honest and powerful look at the role communities can play in creating real change, while helping to share stories that can lead to greater justice for asylum seekers.
Theater and the creative arts continue to play a role in telling stories that need to be heard. Understanding the Experiences of Being a Black Woman in Selena Thompson Salt, to using daring artwork to educate young children on how to protect their planet, theater has always played a role in politics and activism whether you like to admit it or not. There is no help in ignoring the role that theater can play in activism – because in the end, what could be more powerful than making people stop and listen?