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The Turquoise Elephant

As temperatures rise beyond 40 degree and Melbourne’s sewerage system floods the city, the characters in The Turquoise Elephant are all still bickering about climate change.

By Tamara Howie

Set in the near future, the Griffin Theatre Award winning piece by Knock-Em Down Theatre, directed by Gail Evans, is heading to the Brown’s Mart stage for an absurdist look at a world afflicted by climate change.

Writer Stephen Carleton says he was inspired to write the comedy as the response to climate change becomes more and more absurd.

“It feels a bit like the worse and worse things get, the more determined our political classes are to do nothing about it,” he says.

“It was born out of the frustration of the absurdity of it all.”

Five central characters represent different players and ideologies towards climate change.

There’s a climate change refugee who found herself in Australia after her island in the Philippines was drowned, another who doesn’t think the issue has anything to do with mankind, and one who’s just thrilled to be alive to witness such a cataclysmic change in the world.

“There’s one character who wants to do something about the issue but doesn’t know what to do and doesn’t feel an individual can make much of a difference,” Carleton says.

“I feel she represents most of the people sitting in the audience.”

Carleton doesn’t think theatre is going to revolutionise the fight against climate change, but says it plays an important role in the dialogue.

“I don’t believe any play on any topic changes the world or causes revolution, but I think it can be an important part of the conversation and it can bolster other efforts that are taking place,” he says.

“I feel like everything else has been done and it isn’t working.

“How much science do we need? How many report from the BOM and CSIRO are needed before we’re inspired to do anything about it?”


See the event listing.

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