Play Before Birth @ Edfringe 2019

PLAY BEFORE BIRTH

An ‘all-female, risk-taking and provocative’ thriller about young women and climate change comes to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, created by Coast to Coast.

PLAY BEFORE BIRTH written and directed by Rohan Gotobed

Mint Studio (Greenside Infirmary Street – Venue number 236)

Monday 12th – Saturday 17th August – 10:20am

Monday 19th – Saturday 24th August – 18:30pm

 

Klara is pregnant. She is 21 years old. 

In October 2018, the IPCC released a report saying that the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels as early as 2030.

At Klara’s baby shower, Moira presents an unthinkable solution:

Are children really the future?

Cast: Rachel Nicholson, Alex Gallacher, Caitlin Jacobsen and Ellie Martland.

Writer/Director Rohan Gotobed is the joint artistic director of Coast to Coast. In September 2019 he will enrol on Birkbeck’s prestigious MFA in theatre directing. As an actor, he is best known for playing Young Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Rohan says, “Play Before Birth is about young people living in a climate change world, something scary but incredibly important. I hope audiences who see the play have an affirming experience in the theatre but then struggle to sleep when they get home. I can’t wait for audiences to become part of Klara’s decision and join our conversation about the modern world.”

 

What is the carbon footprint of bringing this production to Edinburgh, and have you incorporated any activities that enable you to reduce this?

It’s frustrating that, regardless how much ‘Play Before Birth’ explores the climate crisis, it’s always going to be difficult to eliminate a carbon footprint in a traditional theatre space (though Pigfoot’s ‘How to Save a Rock’ handles the issue brilliantly). When we started discussing Extinction Rebellion and Conceivable Future in rehearsals the cast and crew became really empowered to do what we can to minimise our environmental impact. Coast to Coast has become part of Staging Change, a grassroots movement to promote sustainability in theatre. Thanks to their help all of our promotional materials are recyclable and we’ll be encouraging people on the mile to #TakeaPhoto instead of wasting flyers.

 

In what ways do you feel that theatre can bring anything to this discussion, especially in the light of the recent imaginative activism that has been engaging the media, such as Extinction Rebellion?

Oskar Eustis describes theatre as inherently democratic because of how it includes communities and debate/discussion. In the real world it’s so easy for us to become complacent but with political theatre there’s the chance to depict characters who our audiences might agree/disagree with. In this turbulent and tribal political atmosphere, I hope we can persuade people to discover the characters beyond their political beliefs. Klara and Moira, Frances and Sophie… they’re not real… but they could be, and I think that’s so important – without theatre, it’s going to be very easy for us to become desensitised to what’s going on in the world.

Rachel Nicholson (Klara) and Ellie Martland (Moira)

Are there methods that theatre can use to do beyond ‘raising awareness’, since it strikes me that much of the audience will at least be aware of the issue?

Theatre puts you in a position where you are forced into the present – you can’t switch it off like facebook. Our show imagines the frightening world we’re on the brink of so we can accept the facts and what happens next. The first people to see the play came away with an existential crisis! Climate issues are so vast and hard to comprehend that they can overwhelm and be difficult to talk about. Theatre is also a shared experience, unlike reading an article on your phone, so when you leave the studio you can find your voice and speak to your fellow audience members. I think that’s really powerful.

 

What elements of climate change do you explore, and what ideas are you keen for the audience to take away?

Twenty-one-year-old Klara is eight months pregnant with her first child. The only people who turn up to her baby shower are her supportive sister Sophie, single-mother Frances and Moira, who was uninvited. Her extreme opinions about parenthood cast a shadow over the night. When we’re bringing new life into a world doomed from 2030, we have to ask… is it okay to still have children?

I like my theatre to question the personal within the political. ‘Play Before Birth’ puts this climate change catastrophe into four young women’s lives, so our perspective shifts with their beliefs and agendas. These are their stories, relatable and imperfect and human. I want the audience to leave the room feeling challenged and rocked to the core. I hope they have sleepless nights, because this is a call to action. It’s intense, risk-taking and provocative – horror on stage. It’s about young people living in a climate change world, something scary but incredibly important.

 

Coast to Coast Theatre Company was formed in 2017 by Molly Farley and Rohan Gotobed, who have just graduated from the University of East Anglia. Coast to Coast believes in creating brave, innovative theatre. Molly and Rohan have recently collaborated with the Norwich Arts Centre to produce new work from Molly Naylor and Steve Waters. Play Before Birth was developed with support from All-In Productions and the Garage Theatre.

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