What should the creative response to climate change be (if anything)? Continuing the discussion from the Tipping Point conference in Newcastle.

Convener(s): Simon Day 

Participants: Tom Ross-Williams, Dan Barnard, Velentine Teferie (?), Rachel Briscoe, Fran Hyde, Sarah Pinshon (?), Ed Jaspers, Hannah Myers, Lucy Neal, Matt Ball, Tom Brocklehurst, Jacqueline Coombe (?) plus others.


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: 


A few of us who'd been in Newcastle and had an inspiring, frightening and confusing time in equal measure, passed on some thoughts:

  • Go next year. It felt like an important event attended by some fascinating people.
  • Scientists are more into us than we might think. Felt a genuine enthusiasm for the potential of what we can do in collaboration with them and the meeting places between disciplines.
  • ACE are responding to the issue, with sustainability agenda affecting NPO's soon, and expected to affect GFTA's within a few years.
  • If some of the climate scientists are right (the ones who think we're in trouble) we really ARE in trouble, and something's got to change about the way we are living.


“Tell it slant...”

Generally agreed that no one wants shit plays telling us to fly less, or to turn the lights off. A Dickinson line quoted at Tipping Point by Jay Griffiths says it well: “Tell the truth, but tell it slant”. Consciousness raising of climate change as a backdrop, if not the centre, of a dramatic fiction was put forward as well - specific example of a forthcoming Pamela Carter play was given, where a family melodrama is played out against a literally rising water-level onstage.

Visions of future and creative process

Efficacy of culture in affecting behavioral change led to suggestion that to imagine a future, to imagine change is a prerequisite to realising it. Preeminence of dystopian visions of future in popular culture recognised, and it was wondered what role we might have as makers in working against this. 

Form as vehicle (or barrier) of engagement

John Fox's (Welfare State / Dead Good Guys) moving and erudite speech at Tipping Point was paraphrased, initiating discussion about whether form of theatre itself should be questioned. Is creating and sharing participatory work, by it's process, better able to engage people effectively with the issue and bring about change? SW based Kilter were mentioned as exemplars of this approach. A counter point to any fundamentalist answer to this was well put: surely there's a place as well for a well crafted intelligent 'traditional' play that can make you reflect on an issue – the role of any/all cultural forms shouldn't necessarily be discounted through simplistic division of passive vs. active audience role.



  • Robert H Frank – Darwin Economy
  • Rupert Sheldrake – The Science Delusion
  • Hopkins – Transition Companion 


Re. ACE's sustainability agenda, a response was discussed to likely affect for 'smaller fish' through GFA programme in future. Amongst some, a willingness is there to own or to initiate a dialogue before restrictions, requirements, criteria etc. are imposed, and ACE representatives in Newcastle indeed did seem to invite this. Desire seemed to be there as well to resist entirely instrumental action, to perhaps keep responding with the heart as well as the head to this issue.



Between Rachel Briscoe and Simon Day, a follow up meeting will be arranged to be held within one month. We'll publicise this through all channels we can, and in the meantime, please email us via Improbable if you want to be involved. Simon will also annouce this through Tipping Point somehow. Focus will be on two things: to sort out our approach to ACE on this, and also to continue more general dialogue about how our creative practice itself can be seen as a rehearsal for a positive future