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This article is the latest in our series #Art4Climate, a joint initiative by UN Climate Change and Julie’s Bicycle on the work of artists who make the issue of climate change more accessible and understandable by featuring it in their work. It was inspired by a session at the Salzburg Global Seminar in early 2017.

Marabu Theater, a theater company in Bonn, is working with young artists in the city to raise awareness about climate action and the need for sustainable life-styles ahead of and during of the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 (6-17 November).

The group will be performing plays for children and young people on the margins of COP23. They are called “There’s a Globe Stuck in My Throat” and “Noah, Nobody and the Yellow-bellied Cormorant”, and both seek to break down the complex global issues surrounding climate change and the need for sustainable lifestyles into digestible information.

“We are convinced that everything which concerns the problems of the world can be told for children. It's just a question of how we tell the stories. Children live in the same world as adults and get a lot of information about the issues”, says Claus Overkamp, one of the founders and artistic director of Theater Marabu.

Breaking out of the Mold of Stubborn Behavior and Creating Empathy through Art

A scene from “There’s a Globe Stuck in My Throat” in which a teenager bemoans the state of the world

“There’s a Globe Stuck in My Throat” is a play written by Gerhard Meister and performed by the Young Ensemble Marabu, a group of students between the ages of 17 and 25.

The costumes are made of plastic materials to reflect the fact that current fashion trends for the most part involve the use of unsustainable products, often produced in sweatshops. Bright colors and makeup prevail, and the action is situated in a place which appears to have no concrete location or time.

A dance scene from “There’s a Globe Stuck in My Throat”

The play tries to galvanize people into action. The eight actors represent different aspects of the same individual mind, each driven by different desires. When confronted with ideas like poverty, injustice and the need for personal responsibility, each persona takes turns arguing their own vision of the world. The stubbornness of the characters prevents them from reaching consensus, and they end up achieving nothing.

“Theater cannot change the world. But it can change the way people think about the world, and when those people leave the theater, they are the ones who can make changes in the world”, says Claus Overkamp.

“Theater connects body and mind, connects information with emotion and transforms information into poetry. Theater can change and play with perspectives of behavior. Because in a play everything is possible, it can open minds, thoughts and imagination. Theater is the art of empathy, which is a precondition of understanding others and helps develop an attitude of solidarity,” he adds.

The second play, “Noah, Nobody and the Yellow-bellied Cormorant”, is for younger children. It shows that only though emphatic communication and collaboration can we achieve true change and make the world a more sustainable place. The story is a twist on the classic story of Noah and his arc, but this time instead of escaping a divine flood, the persona are escaping pollution. Here's a short clip:

Bonn Set to Be a Hub of Youth Climate Action in November

The preparation of the two theater performances coincide with many other youth events ahead of and during the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn in November.

The youth climate agenda will start on November 2 with the 13th Conference of Youth (COY13). And during COP23, just across the Rhine, young people and their families will have the opportunity to participate in the Climate Change Conference for Children (“Weltklimakonferenz für Kinder, Jugendliche und Familien”) organized by the Culture Centre Brotfabrik. And there will be many other workshops, concerts, talks and cultural events designed for children, young adults and their parents.

The theater community in Bonn has a history of raising awareness about climate change through art.
For example, over the past three years, Theater Bonn has also worked with children in the Save the World project. As part of this project, Berlin-based performer Bernadette La Hengst has composed climate songs which she has recorded together with school children. Here's one example:

To learn more about Theater Marabu’s productions see here

#Art4Climate is a joint initiative by the UNFCCC and Julie’s Bicycle to spot and propose super recent and new works in this broad field, but we also want to hear from you! Please send any proposals for showcasing to newsroom@unfccc.int or Chiara@juliesbicycle.com.
Please amplify our web posts with Twitter hashtag #Art4Climate and #COP23!

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