Tomorrow’s Wake

A new work, as yet unpublished, set in the midst of the cornovirus pandemic, about the need for effective climate change action. A play for the coming age, by celebrated playwright Michael Gray Griffith, for performance by Soul Theatre Inc. in the first half of 2021.

SOUL acknowledges assistance received in 2020 for development of this production from Creative Victoria under the Sustaining Creative Workers initiative.

From the playwright:

I was asked to write a play about climate change and yet it is such a confusingly huge issue that I found when I read all the modern updates, the main question I was interested in was why so many people aren’t driven to actively and passionately tackle it.  It is even well known that, instead of being alarmed, when the facts are presented to them people either scoff or just switch off.

Another interesting puzzle to me was to do with the fact that it has been discovered that the Board of one of the world’s leading oil producers not only knew in 1979 that fossil fuel use would lead to climate change and instead of acting upon it, they proceeded to try discredit the facts.     

Yet even though this is now proven people still aren’t outraged. Why?

So taking all of this in, I thought why not explore the issue of Climate Change from a fresh angle of posing questions rather than answers or facts.

And so this is the story I used to do that. 

In an ordinary suburban house Fiona’s only child Kyle, 18, has, along with two other environmental activists not only kidnapped the ex-CEO of a major oil company but brought him here. 

This was the man who in 1979 decided to bury the truth rather than act on it.

The activists want to film this ex-CEOs confession and live stream it in the hope that it will start a fire.

Initially Fiona just wants to call the police but then she realises that if she does her son could face a lengthy jail sentence for kidnapping.   

And this is where the play becomes an allegory to explore the question of why people aren’t actively tackling climate change.

When Fiona can see that her only son could go to jail, she actively and passionately even cold heartedly, starts figuring out what she has to do, and how far she is prepared to go, to save Kyle’s future. And she discovers that thanks to love, she is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths.

But at the start of the play, even though climate change could have a drastic effect on Kyle’s future Fiona is not bothered at all. In fact, she wants to get a pool installed.

One line in the play states “I wonder where we would be now if only climate change was holding a gun to your son’s head?”

And the play shows that given a clear and visible threat some people will respond accordingly and with haste. Even dramatically.

So if the ability to respond clearly exists, maybe the key to engaging the public lies in the current messaging?

That said the play itself is written to be a highly engaging tense thriller with an ending that will have the students gob smacked. 

It also has humour and one of its main themes is power, as for the length of the different factions, the activists, Fiona and the abducted man all fight to be in charge.     

Added to this the tension that the police will soon be here to arrest them keeps the plays tension tight and the plot moving along with all its twists.

Michael Gray Griffith is best known for his recent plays:

• The Magnolia Tree
• When Icebergs Burn
• Marooned
• Adrifting Through the Vomit Generation
• Australia Dot Com
• Decoupage Skin
• The Indifferent Revolutionist

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