In 2014, conservative commentator Andrew Bolt got his knickers in a knot over a new Australian play by David Finnigan provocatively titled Kill Climate Deniers.
Bolt, who had not read or seen the play, was furious that the ACT Government had given funding worth $19,000 to a play which he categorised as “a project urging others to kill fellow citizens.” The play drew even more attention when it premiered in late 2016 in Canberra, inspiring James Delingpole of Breitbart to suggest his own play, Kill The Greenies.
Bolt and Delingpole may be disappointed to learn that Finnigan’s play received another plaudit this weekend, winning the $10,000 Griffin Award for new Australian writing.
Kill Climate Deniers is an action/thriller/hostage Die Hard-style drama where 96 armed eco-terrorists storm Parliament House, take the entire government hostage and threaten to execute everyone unless the environment minister ends global warming that very night.
Late last year, Finnigan spoke to Daily Review about the play, and said that he believed the right-wing attacks on his play would probably prevent it from being produced by subsidised companies wary of controversy.
But Finnigan says that, in the all-female play, the eco-terrorists are the “baddies”.
He acknowledges that the title of the play may well offend certain people, but that causing offence is not the point of the play.
“In any case where people are being offended by an artwork we need to weigh up the costs and benefits of the work — is the content and the point the artwork is making worth the cost of upsetting and outraging this group of people?
“In the instance of Kill Climate Deniers I obviously think that yes, it is,” Finnigan said.
Finnigan is a Canberra-based writer, and part of the science-theatre ensemble Boho. He’s been a resident artist at theatre companies in London, Manila and Colombia, and is a Churchill Fellow and an Australia Council Early Career Fellow.
The Griffin Award is presented annually by the Sydney-based Griffin Theatre Company, and is supported by the Copyright Agency. Winners of the award are regularly produced at Griffin.
The other finalists this year’s award were Kit Brookman for The Bees Are All Dead, Ang Collins for Blueberry Play, Emme Hoy for Extinction of the Learned Response, and Brooke Robinson for Good Cook. Friendly. Clean.
This marks the second time in recent years that a play tackling climate change denialism has taken out the award. Stephen Carleton’s The Turquoise Elephant won in 2015, and premiered at Griffin last year in a production directed by Gale Edwards.
If you’d like to read Kill Climate Deniers, or listen to the Kill Climate Deniers album (a 35-minute barrage of dancefloor bangers by Reuben Ingall in the style of classic House and Techno from 1988-92 – mixed with samples from Finnigan’s original stage-play), both are available on the play’s website.