Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cli-Fi stage production Down Under: Climate change: Australian child actors lead the way in ''The Big Dry'' cli-fi production at the Sydney's Ensemble Theatre

Climate change: Kids lead the way in ''The Big Dry'' cli-fi production at the Sydney's Ensemble Theatre

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A group of young actors is breaking new ground by playing all the major leads in a professional theatre production, based on an apocalyptic vision of climate change.
The Big Dry — based on the novel by Tony Davis — opened this week at Sydney's Ensemble Theatre in a co-production with The Australian Theatre for Young People.

In the play, two brothers struggle to survive in a house without parents, living off meagre supplies and drinking dirty water.

The action takes place in their kitchen, where they cower from the impact of huge dust storms and visits from intruders.

The portrayal of an extreme impact of climate change sparked intense debate on and off the stage.

"It's not attempting to be a grand climate message," director Fraser Corfield said.

"It is the backdrop to this suspenseful story about what happens when society breaks down.
"It's a fascinating 'what if?' What if it stops raining in this part of the world?"

Play a 'very realistic' scenario: cast member

However the youngest cast member, 12-year-old Jack Andrew, thinks the play is "very realistic".

"A couple of weeks ago it was boiling hot. Then last week we had the storms. It changes very quickly. It is scary," he said.

Fifteen-year-old Rory Potter, who plays big brother George, agreed.

"It is a shadow of what is happening in the world today if we are not careful," he said.

Playwright Mark Kilmurry said the subject was a challenge for a small theatre to stage.

"I thought if you set it in one place and made the outside world intrude on their relationship it would be very powerful," he said.

Special lighting and audio effects portraying the dust storms and raids from authority are used in the production, which breaks new ground.

"It's unusual to have the arc of the story absolutely shaped, not by one, but by three characters, who are all played by young actors," Corsfield said.
"We changed the ending of the play two hours before the end of performance."
"They were able to take it on board without any hiccups."

And for the young cast, working up to the world premiere has been an enjoyable experience.
Jack Andrew said he enjoyed workshopping the play, giving input and seeing the script changed to reflect the cast's views.

"It's actually cool to be able to change the script around a bit."

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