How a play on climate change transformed its actors
If you have never given climate change a second thought, perhaps the play The Year of No Return, will have you reconsider your role in caring for the planet.
The theatrical production by The Necessary Stage (TNS) is held at Victoria Theatre on 21 and 22 May as part of the Singapore International Festival of Arts. Directed by Alvin Tan, founder and artistic director of TNS, the play has been in the works for three years. It examines a wide range of climate change issues from various perspectives, as well as what it means for people to come together and push for systemic change.
The show stars actors in Singapore and overseas, with cast members abroad sharing the stage virtually. The play will also be available online on the SISTIC livestream from 5 to 12 Jun.
We find out how the play has changed the way actors Rodolfo Vera, Sukania Venugopal and Chihiro Hirai regard climate change and life.
How has being in The Year of No Return transformed the way you regard climate change?
Hirai: Before I participated in this play, I never gave climate change a second thought. But since our rehearsals, my horizons have expanded and I now think about environmental issues and climate change when making conscious decisions in my life, such as reducing the amount of garbage I generate, and only buying the things I need.
Venugopal: Climate change is something that affects all of us. We have a responsibility to treat what has been gifted to us by Mother Nature with love and care for as long as we are here occupying planet Earth. For me,I try to reduce the use of plastic and ensure that I have my reusable containers with me.
Vera: I have learned that individuals can recycle, try to save energy, and watch what we eat, but all that is just a drop in the bucket towards reversing the carbon emissions that increasingly affect the Earth’s climate. Beyond “doing one’s part”, we can also address this issue on the level of government policy and call out the impact that huge fossil fuel companies and extractive industries have on the Earth.
As an actor in the play, what has left a deep impression on you?
Hirai: It struck me that everyone has their own motivations, and they become an enemy or an ally depending on their interests.
Venugopal: Reading articles that were posted in the group chat for the play was an eye-opener to the pollution and atrocities that have resulted from blatant abuse of nature and greed.
Vera: We humans can have such a bloated sense of self-importance. We believe the Earth was created for us, and we have focused too much on ourselves, fashioning civilisations to suit our wants and desires. If anything, we need humility.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the play?
Hirai: I hope that those who didn’t previously feel the urgency of climate change, like me, will come to understand that our actions have repercussions, so we should think about the choices we make every day.
Venugopal: If we continue with our arrogant, disrespectful ways towards the environment, we are digging our graves.
Vera: I hope people will think beyond their own social circles and consider how we, as a species, can confront climate change together.
Learn more about The Year of No Return here.