Film from Cap-a-Pie to be shown at COP26

Published: 2 October 2021
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Climate Change Catastrophe
The creative team with children from Hotspur Primary School Credit: Mark Savage
Liam Scarth (L) and Hannah Goudie (R) in Climate Change Catastrophe Credit: Lindsay Duncan

Climate Change Catastrophe!, a film from Newcastle theatre company Cap-a-Pie, created with primary schoolchildren and Newcastle University Scientists, to be screened at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Hundreds of year 4 schoolchildren from across the North of England worked with Newcastle University climate scientists and engineers and Cap-a-Pie to create a show about what children think about climate change: their hopes, fears and ideas for the future.

Artistic Director Brad McCormick explained why Cap-a-Pie wanted to make the show.

“Climate change will affect us all,” he said, “but it’s the younger generation who will bear the brunt so we wanted to get children’s perspectives, to tap into their imagination as well as broadening their understanding of climate science and engineering solutions from people with real expertise.

“It’s clear from the Youth Climate Strikes inspired by Greta Thunberg and the international Youth4Climate Summit taking place in Milan that children and young people care deeply about the climate crisis and want to take action.

“World leaders will meet in Glasgow to make important decisions about how humanity tackles the climate crisis,” he went on, “so we’re honoured to be able to take the voices of hundreds of schoolchildren from across the north of England to COP26 where their ideas will be heard by an international audience and have the potential to make a real difference.”

The production, created in partnership with Newcastle University's School of Engineering and with funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering, is performed by professional actors Hannah Goudie and Liam Scarth with a guest performance by Kema Kay and music by Katie Doherty and is aimed at an audience of all ages.

“It is refreshing to see the climate change emergency through the eyes of children, and to hear about their inventive solutions,” said Hayley Fowler, Professor of Climate Change Impacts at Newcastle University. “We all need to wake up to what 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.”

Alistair Ford of Newcastle University’s School of Engineering has worked on climate change research for over a decade, particularly looking at how our cities might change to reduce their carbon footprint and make themselves more resilient to extreme weather.

“I was really excited to collaborate with Cap-a-Pie on this project,” he said. “It’s totally different to my day job and working with 8-year-olds was a complete contrast to writing computer models for local and national governments. Making a complex subject like climate change accessible to school kids was a great experience, making me think differently about the work I do.”

Climate Change Catastrophe! will be screened in the Green Zone at COP26 at 12:30 on 12 November. Events will be live-streamed on the COP26 YouTube channel. The show is also available to watch as a free six-part online series from 1 to 21 November, with an accompanying education pack and creative activities, on the Cap-a-Pie web site.