Climate Catastrophe collaboration

Published: 20 April 2021
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Climate Change Catastrophe
Liam Scarth and Hannah Goudie
Liam Scarth and Hannah Goudie

A new film, Climate Change Catastrophe!, is the result of a seemingly unlikely collaboration between primary schoolchildren, Newcastle University climate scientists and engineers, NE singer-songwriter Katie Doherty and Cap-a-Pie theatre company.

It's all about what children think about climate change: their hopes, fears and ideas for the future. The result is a journey into the mind of an eight-year-old intended to make audiences think.

“It's important that we all understand more about the climate change emergency and what we can do about it,” said Hayley Fowler, Professor of Climate Change Impacts at Newcastle University. “It is refreshing to see this through the eyes of children, and to hear about their inventive solutions. We all need to wake up to what our children already know: a climate catastrophe is coming. This show effortlessly blends the enthusiasm and unconstrained ideas of youth with the science and engineering needed to build them. Hopefully, the next generation will inspire us to reach for Net Zero, to make changes to our lifestyles to benefit us all, and leave a better world for them to inherit.”

Cap-a-Pie has produced many shows built around the work of academics. In 2018, it worked with the University of Hertfordshire to produce The Important Man, a study of fortune telling, and earlier that year they worked with the University of Durham to create Woven Bones, a play which brings together the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 and an archaeological investigation in Durham in 2013. In 2015, they toured The Town Meeting, a really different piece on town planning and PR. They have also done numerous “one-night stands” in Stage 3 at Northern Stage, exploring research from various faculties of Newcastle University through drama.

“For some time now, we've wanted to do a project around climate change,” explained Artistic Director Brad McCormick. “It's one of the biggest issues of our time and will affect us all, but it’s the younger generation who will bear the brunt so we felt it would be interesting and useful to get their perspectives and to broaden their understanding of climate science and engineering solutions from people with real expertise. Another reason we wanted to work with schoolchildren was to tap into their imagination and sense of logic—their input was invaluable and has really brought the show to life, as well as helping them to learn more about climate change and how they can make a difference.”

McCormick directs and the production team includes designer Verity Quinn and lighting designer Dan Saggars who both worked on the Young Vic's tour of Seiriol Davies's How To Win Against History. Original music is by award-winning North East singer-songwriter Katie Doherty, who regularly composes for theatre companies including Northern Stage and Open Clasp. The cast are Kitchen Zoo member Hannah Goudie, who most recently appeared in the Kitchen Zoo production of The Emperor's New Clothes at Northern Stage, and Liam Scarth, who works with Mortal Fools and Lawnmowers Independent Theatre Company. There is also a guest performance from rapper Kema Kay (Kema Sikazwe) who appeared in the film I, Daniel Blake and starred in his own show, Shine, at Live Theatre in 2019.

Climate Change Catastrophe! will be available as a free six-part series on YouTube from 12 May 2021. An accompanying education pack and creative activities will also be available. To find out more visit Cap-a-Pie’s web site.