It’s great to have a poem in this new edition from Science Write Now. It’s called ‘A Certain Thought’ and is a contemplation on what it must have been like for Charles Darwin to come up with the idea of evolution.
So much of human and scientific progress comes from someone thinking in a unique way, seeing a situation, a process, a relationship differently for the first time.
But regular life goes on. There are people to love, children to care for, walks to take in the country, work to be completed.
The decision to share this new thought with the world can also cause disruption.
Darwin was most likely aware of the impact that his Theory of Natural Selection would have on the status quo, on the comforting stories people at that time told themselves about how the world was, and about humankind’s place within it.
We are currently facing a climate and biodiversity emergency and we too, must revisit the comforting stories we tell ourselves about our place in the vast ecosystem of this planet – our one and only home.
Will the new ideas someone has now, or soon will come up with, to help us to resolve this crisis be accepted? Or will we, like Darwin’s contemporaries, also struggle with the changes that must inevitably come?
I’m so excited to start the development of my play ‘Bruised’ with Playwrights Realm in New York! I couldn’t believe it at first but it must be true as it’s been announced in American Theater and Playbill. Such an honour to be part of this! On the website it says there were 1,000 entries, which is very humbling and inspires deep gratitude in me.
Please click here to find out more about the other wonderful playwrights who are part of the 2021/2022 season.
In addition, the amazing New York-based, and ‘The Drama League’ Directing Fellow, Reena Dutt will be working alongside me to develop this text further.
Through the wonders of online connections, I hope ‘Bruised’ will become a special, unique, story that resonates with many, and says that we have to keep trying. Through this story it shows how we have to continue our work so we can solve the climate crisis, to ensure everyone is part of the solution and no one is left behind, especially those who did the least to cause this situation in the first place – humans and more-than-humans.
Theatre can show us our love for other people and for other beings, our strength, hope and resilience, how we can use our ferocious energy for justice to do good in the world. Theatre helps us imagine a better way, a fairer planet, where every living thing can be part of this intricate web of life.
As artists, our choices have consequences. Who funds our work matters. So, choose carefully. If our choice of subject matter is monitored, or we’re pressured (overtly or implicitly) to moderate criticism of certain important contemporary issues by those with $$, then we’re not making art. We’re making propaganda. We’re part of the marketing arm of a corporation, or corporate-linked charity, that sees artwashing as a weapon to further its own aims.
Even if our subject matter isn’t directly relevant to the practices or impact of a corporation or corporate-linked charity, even then, by taking their $$ we’re lending them our own social and professional capital at a cheap price, for a brief moment. The people who matter the most, our art-loving community, those who come to see our work, who experience our stories, listen to our sounds, are watching. They will not forgive those who betray our collective future for a few silver coins. We have a duty to educate ourselves about where the funding for our art originates from, and the harm it may have caused, before it’s laundered through us and our work.
(this image is: “Angelus Novus” by Paul Klee – his ‘angel of history’)
20 minutes is too short a time to really unpack the issues of Fossil Fuel Funding in the Arts and how we transition away from this. By talking we’re not only trying to search for answers, but also we’re starting to find better questions; ones that clarify the issues and get to the heart of what we value most.
It’s essential that we’ve the right to free creative expression and to make work aligned with our values. Many of us want to tackle the important and essential issues of our time, and reassess how we create and interact with fellow arts makers, audience, and with the institutions that hold/curate our cultural heritage. So, we plan to continue the conversation with the arts sector, audience, funding bodies and anyone who values free expression and great art.
In fact, we want to see multiple conversations, actions, protests, actions, campaigns – because it’s going to take a lot of effort and passion to bring about meaningful change. We know how toxic the climate wars are in Australia, and the fear many people have of losing livelihoods and reputation by speaking out against the fossil fuel and destructive environmental behemoths that have so much money and power.
But silence never changed anything. It’ll take courage. Change is never easy when there are powerful interests vested in the status quo. But when change for the better happens it is the most important thing in life one can ever help to achieve.
And that’s a wrap! And what a great week it was 🙂 Thanks to everyone involved and to everyone who came to a show or supported BRINK Festival
Even though the performances have ended, the conversations and questions continue. How can we divest the Arts in WA from fossil fuel sponsorship and transition to more ethical and sustainable support? What is the role of arts and cultural workers in this? The role of government; of the audience; and of the corporations who profit from being in WA?
It’s a complex conversation that involves ethics, economics, social justice and accountability. I’ve had a crack as trying to scope this in a recent opinion piece I wrote for ArtsHub
There’s a lot more to be said, and I hope many more people will contribute their thoughts, ideas, hopes and inspiration to help us solve this.
We’ve been planning this since September last year and soon it will be a reality (COVID allowing – fingers-crossed). I was recently asked how I felt about the Festival. As a creative person, I see my task in life as making ideas into tangible events or objects. A story becomes the printed word, or a play; a deep emotional dive becomes a poem; I sometimes even try to re-vision the world through photos and painting.
Bringing together a festival feels different. It’s a collaboration with artists across many artforms to support their visions, their creativity. In some ways this is harder than creating myself, as I feel we must do everything we can to help them realise their shows.
But the best part of BRINK is that we know each and every one of the artists involved supports our vision: one where we imagine a future where the arts are funded ethically, one that respects and supports diverse communities and cultures, that puts the artist at the centre.
Now more than ever, BRINK is needed. Artists often have little to no choice about working for organisations funded by fossil fuel profits. To reject this as a source of income takes immense moral courage with the possible outcome of having to abandon the profession altogether.
BRINK can’t possibly provide all WA artists with the chance to perform. We can’t solve the problem, but we can attempt to highlight the issue and join in the conversation. Because we are not alone in thinking the arts are compromised. For many years, artists around the world have been questioning the corporate capture of the Arts by fossil fuel giants through sponsorship. If you think about it, it’s hard to say no to such a windfall when government support is so paltry. Compared to the billions of dollars in subsidies the fossil fuel giants receive from taxpayers for their multi-billion-dollar enterprises, the arts receive mere crumbs.
When you consider that the arts employ vastly more people than the fossil fuel industry, it begs the question ‘Why are our priorities for sharing the public purse so skewed?’
COVID shone a light on the essential nature of artistic and creative work through film, TV shows, books, music and left many longing for the shared experience of theatre, opera, dance and live music. And when it was revealed that thousands of artists had been left out of COVID relief funding, it showed how precarious our profession is.
Now, it could be argued that the sponsorship is what is enabling so many to be involved in the arts. Yes, of course, any money will increase the production and the reception of the arts. But we must think about where this extra money comes from and how it aligns with our values.
To support our fossil fuel free festival please DONATE to BRINK through the Australian Cultural Fund
My first creative non-fiction piece was published online last year in the Centre for Stories ‘Journal’. I don’t usually write so directly about myself and my life experiences, preferring to universalise them, or at least, attempt to! However, 2020 was a difficult year for me personally. It began with the rapid decline of my mother’s health and her passing, the funeral and the house clearing, sibling tensions exacerbated by grief, and then the pandemic…
As with any death, a reckoning always follows; a processing of what life is now that this person is no longer there. I wrote my piece too soon to answer all the questions that are still sitting quietly at the back of my mind; too soon to answer the big questions that have challenged philosophers forever. I will most likely never really understand the question, let alone the answer. As I continue to try to process how life has changed for me, some insights will find their way into my other writing, the poems, prose and plays that I can’t help but keep creating.
This piece is a small glimpse into this time in my life. Please take from it what you will, but I hope you enjoy the read.
I wrote this play as a cry for action! As an antidote to the inaction caused by despair… It’s now available on Australian Plays. I hope you like it. Here’s a brief outline of the play –
Climate change and extreme weather are the new reality in our lives. 3 women, a Former Astronaut, a Birdwatcher, and a Migrant, are each bruised by their lives. Over dinner, the great cycles of the world are revealed: ocean circulations, migratory birds and people. Through monologues, vignettes and the female gaze, current and future challenges are revealed. But in the end, there’s hope. There must be hope.
Watch out for updates on productions 🙂
And keep hoping – because hope demands action, as I wrote in the following song lyrics:
ARE YOU LOOKING?
Are you looking, are you listening
Are you frightened by what you see?
We have pleaded, we are needed
We must succeed and be fossil free.
Are you acting in time and in the way the planet needs?
Are you hoping your child will not suffer from their greed?
But hope demands action and action brings hope
So rise up with your action your body and your voice.
If you work in science you get used to acronyms. If you don’t they can be tough.
The acronym in the title – ICRAR – stands for the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research which was founded in September 2009. It played an integral role in the development of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA – another acronym!), the world’s largest radio telescope and an amazingly huge scientific endeavour.
This internationally renowned, multi-disciplinary research centre for science, engineering and data intensive astronomy also loves telling everyone about their work and the wonders of the universe. One way they decided to do this was to host a monologue competition as part of National Science Week 2020.
I was honoured to be one of the judges and also to read the winning entry for the Best monologue based on an ICRAR researcher: Black Holes and Coffee written by Nigel Luck.
You know I love to mix science into writing and performance – it was the topic of my PhD – so this competition was a perfect fit for me.
Thanks to Claire at Claire Bowen Management for inviting me to be part of this, who along with Kevin Vinsen, devised the idea for the competition.
And thanks to ICRAR for the great work you do and for letting us have such fun with science! Next time I look up at the night sky, I’ll have so much more to contemplate 🙂
So you can receive a taste of the great work published in Letters to Our Home, download the free PDF – available here
To date we’ve raised over $800 for the Environmental Defender’s Office and the WA Forest Alliance through this project. Please help us support these amazing organisations by purchasing a copy of Letters to Our Home