We knew that this would allow us to foreground young people’s experience of climate change and show the impact that transdisciplinary co-creativity can have. We wanted to celebrate the creativity and dynamism that we’d seen in our previous NYT collaborations and showcase their creative young voices on an international stage.
In an intense research and development process, we took some deep dives into the reality of climate change and its increasingly hazardous impacts. During a two-week writing and rehearsal period, we collaborated to weave together the expertise of climate scientists with the lived experience of NYT’s young cast and creatives, transforming both into ‘On The Edge’. The final performance in Glasgow featured a short play, ‘I Don’t Care’, and a climate cabaret featuring spoken word, music, comedy and magic.
The process of devising On The Edge was co-creative: ‘I Don’t Care’ was jointly devised by the writer/director Adeola Yemitan, the NYT cast and academic colleagues from the UoH, based in part on her participation in joint workshops held online in May 2020 and October 2021. With a week to go before COP26 opened, the show was still in development as cast and creatives iteratively re-shaped their work based on their own lived experiences. The technical elements of the show were created alongside the performance, so audio and visuals were devised and recorded as the work evolved. As academic advisor to the project, Prof. Briony McDonagh participated in this final week of preparations, and contributed advice and answered questions about the climate crisis and its impacts on people and the environment in the UK and globally, referring to colleagues back in Hull where necessary – she also appears in the performance’s audio track.
An additional challenge – as well as having only a short amount of time to devise an original theatre piece from scratch – from NYT’s perspective was planning for a performance in a space that none of us had seen in advance, and which wasn’t a traditional theatre setting: the short play opens with a scene of young people attending a far-from-engaging climate conference, and the climate cabaret specifically acknowledge the context of the performance and the challenges that NYT members identified in trying to get their voices heard amidst the clamour of international negotiations.