Before the Coronavirus dominated the headlines in 2020, climate change and the environment featured prominently in the news, especially with regards to the presence of microplastics in water. Representing the seasoned voice of reason and today’s concerned youth, both Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough implored world governments to take decisive action before the Earth is irrevocably damaged. Earlier this year, after people around the globe stayed indoors for months, it was noted that urban air and water pollution significantly improved, with fish returning to previously uninhabitable conditions. Anyone would think that the Coronavirus is perhaps Mother Nature’s way of getting our attention to what we’re doing… Which brings us to Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow…
First performed in 2018 by Chickenshed Theatre, Don’t Stop’s timely presence online – just as lockdown is slowly lifting – reminds us the ecological renewal that has taken place is in danger of quickly of going back to 2019-levels. Combining music and choreography with the spoken word, the show is thoughtful in its conception and ambitious in its scope, looking at the ‘bigger picture’.
As the show’s narrator, Oscar Buhari (Ashley Driver) from the off is candid about the goal and nature of Don’t Stop. In today’s world, where facts and figures are bountiful (but still leave people desensitised), the show as an artistic enterprise tries to engage at an emotional level why concern for the environment matters. While facts and figures do surface in the show, they are never told in isolation. Instead, through Buhari’s anecdotes, we see how they are related to one’s perception of life.
Many of the songs that appear in the show are well-known, but the way they are used are given an ecological emphasis. Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop’ (from which the show derives its title) is in its original form a positive song with an upbeat tempo. However, its arrangement in the first half of the show lends it a melancholic, pensive vibe and the lyrics take on a completely different meaning. Other notable covers in the show include Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’; Marvin Gaye’s ‘Mercy, Mercy Me’; ‘Hurt’ (which was made famous by Nine Inch Nails and Johnny Cash) and ‘Hushabye Mountain’ – obliquely making overtures to how events today will affects the adults of tomorrow.
While the ensemble perform several songs and dance routines throughout the show, they also portray day-to-day consequences of actions at both a personal and governmental level. Following on from the federal response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, we’re later see the ramifications of the global temperature rising by few degrees. Asides from icecaps melting, the erosion of the ecological food chain and the disappearance of species, the rise of seawater will coincide with the dissipation of freshwater, leading to a global shortage. How rationing water will affect communities is acutely depicted by the cast. Suddenly, climate change isn’t just about losing the world depicted in BBC’s Blue Planet. It becomes as political as it gets – who is ‘entitled’ to receive more water… and who isn’t.
In terms of its ‘mission statement’, Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow succeeds in being entertaining and enagaging at an emotional level. A show about the dangers of climate change could very well be didactic in tone. Instead, it ‘lays out the facts’, and then taking them to their logical conclusion, show how they will affect each and every one of us.
© Michael Davis 2020
Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow can be viewed on YouTube until 24th September: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxXzMcrZXYg
To enable Chickenshed to get through this current Covid-19 crisis so it can continue to provide inclusive opportunities for children and young people into the future, go to: https://www.chickenshed.org.uk/donate
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