An unproduced play made internationally famous (at least in climate denial circles), will be performed in Canberra tomorrow night. While Andrew Bolt and James Delingpole might be relishing more column fodder with which to attack its playwright David Finnigan, perhaps they should take a look beyond its deliberate attention-getting title: Kill Climate Deniers.
Finnigan’s critics around the globe riled against the play and not just because of its title. They were outraged that ACT taxpayers gave Finnigan and Aspen Island Theatre Company $19,000 to develop the play back in 2014 through Arts ACT.
(Bolt has expertise in scouring arts funding announcements to sniff out lunatic lefty projects, though his attack on Hannie Rayson’s play Two Brothers at Melbourne Theatre Company in 2006 — a “vomit of smug hate” — took him into the mainstream arts.)
Finnigan told Daily Review that the right-wing attacks on his play have probably prevented it getting picked up for a production by subsidised companies wary of controversy.
They might also be intimated by the cost of staging 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.
But Finnigan, who was a Churchill Fellow in 2012 and is an Australia Council Early Career Fellow (2014-16), says that the play can be performed by five actors. The all-female play centres around the eco-terrorist leader named “Catch” and the Coaltion’s environment minister.
“The eco-terrorists are the baddies,” he says, and Catch is the baddest (think Jeremy Irons in Die Hard), while the environment minister is the heroine of the 80-minute play. The eco-terrorists come to a sticky end.
So what’s not for Bolt and Delingpole to like?
Finnigan says that he, in fact is a climate denier himself, in as much as he is a “stealth denier”.
“I consider myself a climate denier in that I accept the scientific evidence of climate change around the world but like most people I haven’t taken any direct action or plans in my own life to do anything about it.”
The play sets out to raise discussion about climate change and Finnigan says its hyberbolic title was intentional and he acknowledges some might find it offensive.
“Offending people is not the point — it’s never the point. But upsetting and offending people might be collateral damage on the way to making a bigger point,” he said.
“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.”
The play is still some way from a full performance. Tomorrow at 9pm at Canberra’s You Are Here Festival Finnigan himself will perform sections of the play with added commentary about the controversy surrounding it. He’s calling it (An Attempt to Perform) Kill Climate Deniers.
The script is available for sale as an e-book on the play’s website and Finnigan and a colleague have also produced an accompanying late ’80s house music-infused soundtrack.
You can listen to the single Bolted (words by Andrew Bolt) here