During 2014, I created New Atlantis, a new production in LAStheatre’s Enlightenment Cafe series. I collaborated with scientists from Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, UCL, The Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling and Pennine Water Group to create an immersive production about water usage and climate change. The show ran at The Crystal, Europe’s most sustainable events space, in January 2015.
‘New Atlantis acts to raise awareness about sustainability and climate change; it is not often I leave the “theatre” feeling like I have truly learnt something, much less feeling like I want to actually do something about it.’ – Official Theatre
The year is 2050. Miami has been abandoned due to rising sea levels, water austerity is crushing a drought-ridden London and the CEOs of two major energy companies have been imprisoned for historic climate crimes. Presiding over these developments are the agents of New Atlantis.
As ailing leader Bryony Weller steps down, a power vacuum is created within the organisation and the audience, as the agents of New Atlantis, must elect a new leader. But when the radical youth movement Generation Alpha infiltrate the building things take a turn for the unexpected – the audience must decide whether the New Atlantis can do what is needed within the current systems of governance or if a more radical solution is needed for the sake of the environment.
New Atlantis explored pressing and complex issues surrounding climate change and our relationship with water resources. Combined with schools outreach and a series of short films, New Atlantis highlighted the important work of scientists, engineers and humanitarians whilst providing the audience with a platform to debate one of the most important issues of the 21st Century.
New Atlantis is the latest production in LAStheatre’s Enlightenment Café series.
Collaborators: Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, UCL, The Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling and Pennine Water Group.
It seemed like rather a lot was at stake in New Atlantis…We’re read a news report in the atrium of The Crystal, a weirdly beautiful glass oddity on the bank of the Thames, about a world in which clean, accessible water is scarce, and climate change’s devastating effects have finally been taken seriously. We are, we learn, agents of New Atlantis…We have around 90 minutes to explore the building, meet the staff of the departments of Industry, Reform and Defence, and then cast our deciding vote for one of their leaders to take New Atlantis (and, by extension, humanity) safely through the troubling times ahead. The beauty of what The Enlightenment Café have done in mingling scientists with actors is that it makes you completely unafraid to be curious, to prod at what they’re doing and talking about, to explore…The more we explored, the more real the science clearly was, the more obvious its effects on the world, the more we cared about the outcome of the decision we could make. Also; we could make a decision…Suddenly it mattered…I’m being asked to make a stark choice and I have to look at my own very real personal politics to do so…I have two personal criteria for pieces of performance; I want them to challenge me, and/or I want them to change me…New Atlantis challenged my politics and it change, well, two days later I stopped prevaricating and applied for my MSc.
– Mary Halton