We couldn’t make it on the first night, but after sharing a link to the Birmingham Hippodrome page and an excellent Youtube informational/promo with John I managed to get us to Victoria Square on 7 September for a late-night aerial theatre performance ‘As The World Tipped’.
Part of 4 Squares Weekender, a major outdoor celebration for the opening of the Library of Birmingham, it was an epic outdoor show about the climate change and its dangers that combined theatre, aerial acrobatics and choreography set on a huge 12 meter screen. I was prepared to be wowed by stunning multimedia visuals and breath-taking aerial performance – I am easily excited by such things! – but next to me stood a more critical individual. John teaches climate change, ecology and sustainability issues for living, and he viewed the whole production from another perspective.
‘As The World Tipped’ opened with a lot of smoke and howling post apocalyptic soundtrack.
All this smoke, the looped track and the lights were impressive but, aimed to signal the start of the show, ran for almost 10 minutes, which we thought was a bit too long.
The next segment was a re-enactment of the busy stuff Secretariat of the Copenhagen Climate Change conference struggling to cope with the paperwork and conflicting demands of the participating countries.
Meanwhile the world around them literally and metaphorically slides toward disaster – the stage tips and the people are trying to stop themselves from sliding down.
To John this segment dated the show, as the conference took place in 2011. I understand why Nigel Jamieson, the author and director of ‘As The World Tipped’ had to prequel the aerial part of the performance with a dramatised beginning but to me it was a bit weak and the actors’ stage behaviour and the conference quotes voice overs reeked of school amateur dramatics. It was hard to empathise with the plight of the poor Secretariat stuff, and only later, when it became synonymous with the fate of EVERY person on Earth, the message became more powerful.
It was a visually stunning synergy of vibrant video clips, brilliant performance by the aerial theatre actors and great soundtrack that generated incredible excitement! I loved it!
To John the show premise seemed a bit one-sided, laying the blame on THEM.
Is it the politicians’ fault, their inability to agree on the key climate change indicators and quotas that failed to prevent the destruction of the Earth’s ecology? What should ‘little’ ordinary people do to deal with the threat of such magnitude? What are their responsibility? Should they curb their consumer habits? After watching the performance, would the viewers from Victoria Square return home and decide to give up their car and a foreign holiday to save the environment? And help those children from developing countries who are starving now even without any global catastrophe?
Are these visuals still capable touching our souls? Or do we treat the show as a nerve-titillating American apocalyptic movie – the one where a meteorite strikes, half of the humans die, cities are in ruins – waiting for a hero to come and save the day? Thank God it’s not us…
‘As The World Tipped’ is certainly an ambitious and captivating project and we are grateful to the Birmingham City Council that allowed thousands of people to see this breath-taking performance! And thought provoking – we kept discussing it on our way home.