Throughout June 2021, Scottish Youth Theatre worked with groups of young artists aged 14-17 from Aberdeen Performing Arts, Borders Youth Theatre, Eden Court, hidden route, Mull Youth Theatre and Theatre Royal Dumfries as they expanded their knowledge of climate issues in local contexts and developed their own ecological theatre practices.
In response to a range of educational and critical science materials provided by project partners Explorathon, the groups engaged in a series of intensive bespoke workshops. Facilitated by ecofeminist theatre-maker Isla Cowan, the workshops with each group endeavoured to unpick the systems of ecology and human centrism, instead offering scope for the young people to more deeply consider their relationship with place and their relationship with climate change.
Isla Cowan is a Scottish playwright and theatre-maker, specialising in ecofeminist performance. Her work for stage includes: Daphne, or Hellfire (Pleasance and Assembly Roxy, 2019); Sno Wite and the Seven Dickenzians (Strange Town / Scottish Storytelling Centre, 2019); The View from Portobello ( LYT / Royal Lyceum, 2018), BANTER (LYT / Traverse, 2017); These Walls (Sweet Venues, 2017); Come Back to Bed (Fitzpatrick Theatre, 2017 ); Lily (Corpus Playroom, 2016); and poetic solo show Learning to Live (Espionage @ Laughing Horse, 2015). While Isla performs and directs much of her own work, she was also Assistant Director on GUT (Traverse / National Theatre of Scotland, 2018) and The Duchess [of Malfi] (Lyceum / Citizens, 2019). Isla was selected as one of four playwrights to be mentored at Hampstead Theatre as part of the 2019 INSPIRE playwrights programme and, in 2020, Isla's work made the Top 100 for Soho Theatre's Verity Bargate Award and the Shortlist for the Phil Fox Award from Outside Edge Theatre Company. Most recently, Isla’s monologue World Under Water was commissioned for Strange Town’s Lockdown Series and her new audio work ecotone premiered as part of Scottish Youth Theatre’s 2021 Making Space Online Festival. Isla is currently under commission from Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, making a series of spoken-word audio compositions responding to the theme ‘My Normality’.
Following these workshops, the young people phoned a virtual 'hotline' from which they would then record a voice message for Earth. The resulting voicemails were then compiled and shared as a durational audio work, played aloud through the Phone Call to the World Interactive Exhibition at CCA during COP26 from 2-13 November. The messages intercepted the silence of the space, while grounding the tone of the work on display – that of urgency and action demanded by young people across the world, accentuated with a prevailing sense of hope throughout.
Connect with the project’s Interactive Media Map to listen to the voicemails created by the young artists.