This information was shared with me by Natalie Driemeyer. Hearing about the festival and seeing the amazing photos that Natalie sent me makes me wish I could have attended.
* * *
This past June, the transdisciplinary festival ODYSSEY: CLIMATE took place at the municipal theatre in Bremerhaven, Germany.
At the centre of the festival was the CLIMATE-PARCOURS. Actors, performers, musicians and dancers performed in exceptional venues – extreme-climate-spaces – dealing with the elements (fire, water, earth, air) and the extreme natural events caused by climate change. The artists were supported in their work by scientists from various fields. This transdisciplinary exchange allowed participants a different, more sensual approach to the creation of visions for our future on the planet; it opened up new possibilities and looked at our chances for adapting to new circumstances and ways of life.
The festival was proud to have both the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research as partners. The involved scientists didn’t just advise the artists, some of them stood on stage as well.
The festival presented guest-performances that dealt with climate change. The performer Eva Meyer-Keller cooked natural disasters with the help of gourmet chefs – naturally, everyone had a taste of the catastrophe. Anna Mendelssohn brought her one-woman conference on climate change Cry Me A River. And the renowned architect, designer and urban planner Friedrich von Borries let the audience in on his visions for our future ways of living.
The International Theatre Institute (ITI) asked performing artists from around the world to join in a live Skype debate. Artists from South America, Asia, and Africa spoke about the situation in their country and about their theatrical approaches to the topic.
In front of the theatre a tent city, the KLIMA-ZELT-STADT, hosted a scientific conversation and a laboratory for sustainable urban development. Food, which supermarkets would have thrown away, was served, films were screened, bands played, and a photo-exhibit about life in Antarctica was presented.
Climate is very topical in Bremerhaven: the city has become a major centre of excellence on climate change due to its scientific bodies and as a location for the offshore wind energy industry. Furthermore, Bremerhaven, which lies in the estuary of the river Weser, needs to adapt to man-made climate change. A few weeks prior to the festival, the new embankment, which was raised by two meters, was re-opened. Energiekonsens, a non-profit company that works on energy conservation in the region, advised the festival about CO2-minimization. For the CO2-emissions that could not be prevented 1 € per ticket went towards the climate fund “Klimafonds.”
Thanks to support from the German Federal Cultural Foundation as well as from the municipal environmental agency and friends of the theatre, the artists involved were able to continue their examination of relevant social themes through festivals, as begun with the festival ODYSSEY: HEIMAT (home/belonging).
For more information (in German):
Chantal Bilodeau is a playwright and translator whose work focuses on the intersection of science, policy, art, and climate change. She is the Artistic Director of The Arctic Cycle – an organization created to support the writing, development and production of eight plays that look at the social and environmental changes taking place in the eight countries of the Arctic – and the founder of the blog and international network Artists & Climate Change. She is a co-organizer of Climate Change Theatre Action, a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented in support of the United Nations COP meetings.