Using local creatives and actors, director Katie Mitchell’s A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction is a narrative response to the climate crisis and an experiment in sustainability
Katie Mitchell’s new theatre production will arrive at the Barbican in London in April having already toured internationally without anyone involved getting on a plane or even crossing a border. The show, entitled A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction, is an experiment in how theatre can be more sustainable. It is staged by a local creative team and features a different performer in each venue it plays.
The idea took shape at Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne in Switzerland, where the British theatre director was due to stage a show. The French choreographer Jérôme Bel had recently announced that he would no longer fly, a decision Mitchell had herself made after working with scientist Stephen Emmott on Ten Billion, staged at the Royal Court in 2012. Mitchell and Bel began discussions with producers at Vidy-Lausanne about sustainable theatre in which, says Mitchell, “the artistic conversations were intersecting with budgeting and systems and structures as well”. The zero-travel rule is just one part of the initiative which is not a set-in-stone model but rather a way to prompt new ways of working on individual productions and within organisations.