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New Babylon

What could the world look like one day if we don’t take action on climate change? One of the country’s leading playwrights, Stephen Carleton, let his imagination loose on this troubling question, the result the second play in his proposed trilogy dealing with the climate crisis, New Babylon.

Premiering at Brown’s Mart Theatre, presented by Knock-Em Down Theatre and directed by Gail Evans, this macabre comedy examines issues around waste, excess and compulsive consumption.

The companion piece to New Babylon and the first work in the trilogy – 2018 hit, The Turquoise Elephant – emerged from the anger and mortification Carleton felt at the inaction and denial he saw around him at the time.New Babylon

As attitudes started shifting and climate denialism became less prominent, Carleton began considering the problem of climate change from an increasingly speculative perspective. 

“In this new piece, my mind went to so what is society going to be like if the worst case scenario happens? Who will get to survive it? What kind of people have the privilege to escape the worst effects of climate change and what kind of a society will reorganise on the other side?” he explains.

Fans of The Turquoise Elephant will be pleased to see the play’s only surviving character, Aunt Olympia, popping up again – this time on board a “dark tourism” ship that passes through the great trash gyres of the Pacific Ocean on its way to a mysterious destination, New Babylon. As the ship passes close to Australian borders, audiences find themselves conscripted into the drama as lucky lottery winners who are able to board the boat.

“Normally, when I finish writing a play, that’s it, I’m done with it … but with this one I enjoyed the absurdism and the characters in The Turquoise Elephant so much, and the topic of climate change is not going away or becoming any less urgent,” Carleton explains.

By approaching a serious issue like climate change through the grotesque and black humour, Carleton hopes his new play speaks to the sense of powerlessness people can feel in the face of global warming, but in a way that doesn’t make the topic too overwhelming.

After all, we’re all in the same boat, heading towards an uncertain destination. Perhaps the play’s new world might not be so unfamiliar after all.

New Babylon
TUE 8 – SAT 19 JUN (EXC. SUN & MON) | 7PM
COST $25-$35

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