How often do you ask yourself this question: Do you love this planet? No, but seriously, do you really love this planet? How much? And how much are you willing to sacrifice to prove it in the face of impending Armageddon? What are you actually doing?
What philosopher and life-long nuclear disarmament activist Alexander Matthews has now decided to do is to turn to the theatre and use it as a platform for provocative thought and action. Last year, his first two poetical dramas, Screaming Secrets and Glass Roots, premiered at Tristan Bates Theatre where his latest, Do You Love This Planet?, has just opened.
The title is itself a provocation, of course, and, after last night’s performance, the debate continued during the post-show Q&A I chaired with Matthews and his three-strong cast.
In the play, Lucy Lowe plays Rachel demands an answer to the titular question: of her husband Schumann (Chris Porter), of her son Alan (Christian James), of her new nuclear energy employer, of all of us. When she blows the whistle and makes a stand, her life and family start to fall apart.
What’s the connection between the nuclear threat of the Cold War era and today’s accelerating climate change crisis? Can theatre make a difference? Maybe in more ways than we can even imagine, Matthews believes, noting that history shows societies that do away with theatre fail within fifty years.
What should we be doing as individuals to fight climate change? Would we all be better off if we got rid of government altogether? Can we have more environmental dramas please, artistic directors? Lots of great input from Alexander, the cast and the audience.