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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

"Our imagination is an ecological force"

Can theatre help us reconnect with the natural world, and prompt conversation surrounding climate justice?

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The Reason Behind the Rime

Date: 31 Mar 2019

I’m optimistic we’re in the middle of a shift in the conversation surrounding climate change.

We’re increasingly aware of what’s happening to the environment locally and globally, and can no longer deny that humanity is causing harm to the planet, the extent to which is dependent on our actions today.

Sydney’s most recent climate change schools strike fell on one of our rehearsal days. It was frustrating wanting to be with the thousands of bodies rallying for climate action, but equally empowering knowing we were inside, contributing to change in our own way.

By making theatre about it.

Humans are born curious, empathetic and creatures of storytelling. Yet, like many social issues, the environment continues to be treated as an economical and political issue, communicated to us through policies, statistics and scientific predictions.

Now, more than ever, we are realising the need to reshape how we perceive our relationship with the natural world. But how do we begin to mend a relationship that has been broken for so long?

Trust

Can theatre help us reconnect with the natural world, and prompt conversation surrounding climate justice?

Every moment experienced in the theatre, is a moment that can never be recreated.

Unlike other forms of art, theatre is live and ephemeral. It’s an immediate and open exchange between the audience, performer and space, grounded in trust and mutual understanding.

Our imagination is an ecological force, that utilises the presentness of our bodies and senses to create meaning. When we listen to each other, a room full of strangers can come together and share an experience.

Listen

But can we bring up environmental concerns in theatre, without being preachy?

There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like a message is being forced upon you, particularly when you’re in an intimate space with a lockout policy.

Even though there currently isn’t much space afforded to theatre makers in Sydney to create new work outside of text-based forms, we shouldn’t forget that performance doesn’t have to be rich in dialogue to create narrative and mutual understanding.

Straying from traditional, naturalistic forms creates new ways to engage audiences in an ecological understanding. If we allow ourselves to listen and trust our sentient bodies when creating and experiencing work, we welcome powerful visceral experiences; those unable to be communicated with words.

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Little Eggs is a Sydney-based performance collective, focused on devising and composing new work, and creating new storytelling experiences. After its critically-acclaimed season of PINOCCHIO at the Sydney Fringe Festival last year, Little Eggs are back on the floor, reimagining Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1798 epic ballad, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Centuries on, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, is a powerful poem that continues to resonate with audiences for its prevalent moral questions surrounding our relationship with the natural world, responsibility and existentialism.

A new language

Our director Julia Robertson has brought together an ensemble of artists from diverse backgrounds and practices and created a space for us to develop our own language to bring Coleridge’s vivid imagery to life.

Devising new work requires you to fully trust in your collaborators, and the process. It’s both exciting and scary creating when you don’t know what the end result will be, but allows you the freedom to explore and experiment with new ways of embodying and expressing ideas.

Our reimagining of Coleridge’s poem has organically evolved with us, as we’ve developed a shared understanding of what Coleridge’s poem means to us today, become in tune with each other and deepened our understanding of our relationship with the natural world.

It’s humbling to know we are simply creatures of this earth and don’t have to change the world overnight. It’s encouraging to remember we do have choice in how we perceive and treat the natural world we inhabit.

Reflect

It’s about time we rejuvenate the art of listening; to our bodies, each other, and the natural world around us. And the theatre seems like a good place to begin the dialogue.

We can’t wait to share this show with Sydney audiences. Our embodied, physical and sonic retelling of Coleridge’s poem, asks the audiences to feel and experience with us, and quietly reflect outside of the space, if they choose to do so.

We’re coming to an ocean near you (aka Kings Cross Theatre Level 4, The Bordello Room), April 2-13.

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