The Earth Turns: Exeter set to host climate performance

One of RAMM's tapestries

One of RAMM's tapestries

Powerful climate stories at the heart of an international collaboration focused upon COP27 will take to the stage in Exeter for a special public performance and panel discussion next month.

The Earth Turns will dramatize six of the tales at the heart of We Still Have a Chance: 12 Stories for 12 Days of COP27, which have been co-created by more than 150 scientists, health experts, artists, and climate activists from the UK and Egypt – the two most recent hosts of COP.

Developed and performed by Cygnet Theatre, The Earth Turns will be staged at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum on 2 November, against the backdrop of a contemporary Egyptian tapestry from the museum’s collection. This will be followed by a conversation with members of the project team about how facts and imagination can be woven into hope for our planet.

It is part of a festival of cultural events inspired by and based upon We Still Have a Chance, an anthology of micro-stories produced by a UK-Egyptian collaboration including the University of Exeter, the Met Office, the British Council, and the American University in Cairo.

“These moving and urgent stories present a deeply human perspective on climate change,” says Alistair Ganley, Director of Cygnet Theatre. “As such, there is a universality to them that translates perfectly to the stage. We have also been very mindful to ensure that they are handled as sensitively as possible in their literal and figurative journey from Egypt to Exeter.”

The six stories that will be adapted from the anthology include Mermaids’ Tears, a magical realist melding of microplastics in the Nile with Arabic folklore as a fisherman is tempted into the water by a siren; and Aish Baladi, in which a catastrophic flood and mudslide have life-changing consequences for a remote Egyptian community.

After the performance, there will be a chance for the audience to discuss some of the themes from the stories and the nature of translation – both to the stage and between languages – with special guests from the Met Office and the University.

“The Earth Turns promises to be a rich and engaging event, melding art and science, drama and discussion” says Sarah Campbell, Associate Director of Arts and Culture at the University. “To be able to showcase these stories here in the city, days before they reach out to the world and to COP27, is both exciting and important. Through storytelling, performance and conversation, we can begin to imagine positive solutions to the climate crisis.”

In addition to The Earth Turns, the We Still Have a Chance project has inspired a range of creative interpretations of the stories, including a separate dramatic production that will be performed at the Falaki Theatre in Tahrir Square in Cairo on 2 and 3 November. Produced by the American University in Cairo, the play has also been accepted into the COP27 Green Zone on 11th November.

Internationally renowned animator Jan Kamensky has been commissioned to produce a piece of digital art, while Egyptian artist and architect Rana Hemdan has created artwork that will become one large scale mural in Alexandria. In addition, two other large-scale murals will be developed as a legacy of the project in Cairo and Exeter, funded by the Knowledge E Foundation.

There will also be a range of public engagement events in Exeter focused on storytelling and art.

For more information, please visit the Green Futures website.