Royal Court Theatre: A Credible Plan for a Just Transition to Carbon Net Zero Through 2020 and March 2020 events

  • A series of performances, lectures and workshops to help us prepare psychologically, collectively and practically for a transformed future
  • Curated by Anthony Simpson-Pike; Philip Morris, Izzy Rabey & Milli Bhatia; Moi Tran; and Chris Thorpe; Royal Court Young Agitators, and the Royal Court staff members of colour
  • Royal Court Theatre: A Credible Plan for a Just Transition to Carbon Net Zero Through 2020 headline strategy document included

In October 2019 the Royal Court Theatre committed to spending 2020 transitioning to becoming a carbon net zero arts venue. Working groups across the organisation led on strategic areas, and consultants were engaged to advise on energy, waste, food and drink, water (cleaning and chemicals), travel and transport, and ticketing, paper and communications to implement immediate operational changes. Summary findings and strategies are detailed in Royal Court Theatre: A Credible Plan for a Just Transition to Carbon Net Zero Through 2020 which can be accessed here.

The March events will encourage discussion and inspire debate about this most important challenge we all face – how we, as individuals, as organisations, and as a society, can ready ourselves for a transformed future.

Artists will take over the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs hosting a series of public events from a duration all-night gathering, to lectures, film screenings and performances. Alongside these the Royal Court is hosting industry and writers meetings throughout March.

During the first Open Court in 2013 the keys of the building were handed over to the writers; in 2016 they were handed to Young Court and the next generation of writers, directors, producers and performers; now in 2020 the month of March is being used as a catalyst for complete organisational transition towards net zero.

“The Royal Court has always been and must always be radical, fearless and future-focused in its approach to the way that work is made, who makes it and who it is for. The next decade is critical for a structural transition to begin. We are committed to becoming carbon net zero and our actions towards this start now. We aim to push every part of our practice into a circular economy that reduces, offsets and neutralises our climate and ecological impact. This is our responsibility to the future writers and artists from across every part of our planet.”  Vicky Featherstone and Lucy Davies

Many events are free. Some events have limited capacity and will be balloted through this online form.

Open Court: Climate Emergency March 2020 is generously supported by an anonymous donor.


Wednesday 11 March, 7pm – 9.30 pm
Reclaiming Our Future

Curated by Royal Court Theatre’s Black, Brown & East Asian Staff Members

What is the importance of intersectionality in climate activism, and what does it mean to see yourself represented in the movement?

The climate crisis movement is not always intersectional, especially in terms of whose voices have the privilege to be prioritised. This two-part event offers a safe space for people who are marginalised due to their race in the UK (i.e. – Black, South Asian, East Asian, Arab, Latinx and Middle Eastern), to come together for unfiltered discussion, reflection and interrogation.

The evening begins with How the Climate Crisis Affects Me, a lecture and honest discussion hosted by British-Nigerian actor and activist Fehinti Balogun. He will explore how the climate crisis has affected him and his family directly, how and why he got involved with Extinction Rebellion and what we can all do whilst living through the climate crisis.

This will be followed by Reverse Berlin Conference a workshop led by artist Jacob V Joyce that takes its inspiration from the 1884 Berlin Conference in which the African Continent was divided up by European colonisers planning to extract its resources. Jacob invites participants to work onto a large map of Europe in order to build a 3D re-imagined landscape that resists the interwoven structures of resource extraction and white supremacy.

This workshop provides a critical space for reimagining industries, borders and cultural norms of the continent’s Nation States. Participants will redefine and assert visions of sustainability and accountability into the landscape of Europe’s potential future.

Reclaiming Our Future will provide a safe space for people who are marginalised due to their race in the UK, to interrogate the link between climate change and its colonial history, as well as its continued structural attacks on particular communities. This will do so by readdressing the white supremacist power imbalance and shifting who has the privilege to have their voice heard when discussing the climate crisis.

This event is organised by Milli Bhatia, Charlotte Cole, Tanya Follett, Myah Jeffers, Daniel Kok and Nkhanise Phiri.

Free but ticketed
*For those who do not sit with within these modes of identity, we respectfully ask that you do not attend this event to ensure this space is uncensored, productive and safe without the burden of explaining our grief or experiences.

Friday 13 March, 8pm – 8am (Saturday 14 March)

After the Flood
Created by Anthony Simpson-Pike in collaboration with Zoë Svendsen and Tassos Stevens

After a disaster, communities can come together in ways they don’t normally under the daily constraints of capitalism. But disasters can also be used to divide people and encourage authoritarianism. What if we didn’t leave it up to chance? What if we rehearsed for the future we want to see?

Over 12 hours a group of citizens will do just this. From 8pm until 8am the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre will become a shelter where we must stay as a result of a flood. From the evening until the morning, we will have to make decisions about how we live together and attempt to become the community we will need to be in the context of the climate crisis, rehearsing our vision live.

This is an experiment in understanding how theatre might offer transformation in responding to the climate crisis. It asks, how can theatres allow us to imagine new ways of living together? And if it is possible to rehearse for the future?

Anthony Simpson-Pike is a director, writer, dramaturg and facilitator.
Zoë Svendsen is a director, dramaturg and researcher.
Tassos Stevens is a director, stunt performer and actor.

This event is free but capacity is limited and therefore tickets will be balloted. Please sign up to the ballot here by noon Monday 9 March 2020. Successful applicants will be notified by Tuesday 10 March 2020 and will be asked to confirm their attendance.

Wednesday 18 March3.30pm – 5pm & 6.30pm – 8pm
What would make the world a better place?
Open to Young Court Friends (U26)

The Royal Court Young Agitators are running a workshop to explore and interrogate the Climate Crisis through the lens of young people, a view which has been so prominent in Climate Activism.

This workshop aims to support young people to meet other young people who are concerned about the environment and build peer community support. To think together and find an emotional outlet to explore eco-anxiety whilst considering the suggestion that “Art does not Serve”; exploring creativity and making work in response to the crisis.

“Art does not Serve” is a provocation from Zoë Svendsen’s Dramaturging the Climate Crisis.

The Royal Court Young Agitators are theatre curators and creatives aged 16 – 23 who are interested in routes outside of performing. Selected annually the Young Agitators engage in an eight month programme which integrates them in to the heart of the building, builds a deep knowledge of the Royal Court, encourages arts activism, supports the development of theatre makers and provides pathways into the industry. The Agitators all receive dramaturgical training (similar to our Script Panel), facilitation skills, invited into rehearsals and techs of shows and expertise workshops with industry professionals.

Free but ticketed

Friday 20 March, 10am – 12.30pm
Wage an Intervention
Created by Milli Bhatia, Philip Morris and Izzy Rabey

You have £1000 cash to spend on a project that will impact the effects of climate change, and one morning to decide how to spend it. The only caveat: you and all the other participants must agree on the choice.

This workshop engages directly in discussions surrounding global shared wage, delegation and financial responsibility in the context of climate change.

Three climate activists will each propose the best way to spend the money. If no decision is made by the end of the discussion, the money goes back to the bank. Throughout the workshop we hope to provoke dialogue surrounding the individual vs the collective in terms of instigating change; exploring the balance between compromise, opinion and responsibility.

This event is free but capacity is limited and therefore tickets will be balloted. Please sign up to the ballot here by noon Monday 16 March 2020. Successful applicants will be notified by Tuesday 17 March 2020 and will be asked to confirm their attendance.

This event is organized by recent and current Royal Court Trainee Directors Milli Bhatia, Philip Morris and Izzy Rabey.

Wednesday 25 March, 4pm – 8pm

A line from Lia Purpura

Created by Moi Tran

We must put empathy first and foremost if we are to surmount the hyper issues of Climate Change.”

The detrimental effect that climate change inflicts on everyday intimacy and mental health goes under-acknowledged. As global “Climate grief” grows, it is leading to depression, anxiety and a state of climate paralysis; we must find new ways to share in and communicate environmentally-induced mental distress and address the lack of language for eco emotive communication.

A series of video screenings, live music and performances exploring a non-English language emotional perspective of loss and lament found in the intersections directly affected by our climate change crisis.

Confirmed events

4pm – Video Screening of new work My Paradise – by Artist Quynh Dong.

5pm – Video Screening of Performance Film Digging a Hole accompanied by live musical improvisation.

6pm – Video Screening of THE BOLERO EFFECT  with live song and musical performance.
7pm– Sasha Ilyukevich and The Highly Skilled Migrants will play for 45 mins on the steps outside the Royal Court Theatre’s entrance.

Moi Tran is a Vietnamese Artist, working in the intersections of Art and Performance. Moi is also the theatre designer of the Royal Court Theatre’s production of White Pearl and Rare Earth Mettle (upcoming).

Events are free and open to all.

Friday 27 March, 7pm
Whatever it is, we’re in it.
Curated by Chris Thorpe

A first public sharing of text and live music from writer and performer Chris Thorpe’s The Methuen Drama Royal Court Theatre Climate CommissionThe commission is a new environmental initiative in playwriting and was awarded to Chris in November 2019.

Chris’ session, like the piece, will focus on the psychology of the emergency – how can we be realistic and honest without paralysing ourselves and others? Is hopelessness a useful stage in an ongoing process?

Alongside the text and music, there will be a public discussion with psychologists about how the human mind works (and doesn’t) when faced with events of an extreme scale; what happens when radical change becomes the new normal; and how we can be useful in a world where information itself might no longer be.

 The Methuen Drama Royal Court Theatre Climate Commission was given to support a playwright to explore fresh ideas and links between the political present and the problems facing our environment today.

 Oberon Books / Methuen Drama

Oberon Books is one of the UK’s most exciting independent publishers in drama and the performing arts, and recently joined Methuen Drama. Together they publish some of the most diverse and forward thinking drama, and lead the way in championing new writing, the best emerging playwrights and theatre companies, and supporting fringe and off-west end theatres. Methuen Drama will continue to support the commission under the new name of The Methuen Drama Royal Court Theatre Climate Commission.