Newsletter 25: UK local actions

Carmen’s Carbon Procession + Royal Opera House die-in

2 JUL | London

Photo by Anthony Jarman: Carmen Declares a Crime scene at Italian fossil fuel giant Eni

Rebels from across London converged for a day of coordinated ‘Carmen’ inspired actions — the latest Royal Opera House production to be sponsored by BP.

The day started with a sombre, flag-filled procession through central London, led by an imperious Carmen. She was outfitted in a dress best described as trash plastic couture, and a train that demanded five rebels-in-waiting shadowing her every move.

The procession stopped at the London HQs of five major oil firms (Eni, China National Petroleum Corporation, Saudi Aramco, Repsol, BP) and at each one Carmen demanded that the cowardly men inside come out and explain their reckless ways to her. Needless to say, none did.

This public scolding was followed by a beautiful rendition by a rebel opera singer of ‘Carmen’s’ lyrics edited to address the climate crisis, a speech imploring the workers inside to join the rebellion, and finally the marking of the site as a crime scene. Mixing performance, music, humour and extravagance, the procession turned heads and got XR leaflets into hands across the city.

The day finished at the Royal Opera House as opera-goers arrived to take their seats for the evening performance of ‘Carmen’. Procession rebels arrived just in time to join their XR Lambeth kin for a declaration against BP sponsorship of the arts, and a die-in outside the main entrance.

Photo by Anthony Jarman

Culture Declares Emergency

8 JUL | 13:30 – 18:00 | London, UK

Around 300 people assembled to discuss how to declare a climate and ecological emergency culturally. The event, held at the Roundhouse in London, was organized by Culture Declares Emergency, a growing community of creative practitioners and organisations concerned about the dire state of the planet.

Those gathered for the afternoon got their collective teeth into the challenge of how to galvanise via art when it comes to climate breakdown. How can we paint both the nightmare of the coming catastrophe as well as the dreams pointing the way to better societal setups? Speakers kicked off the assembly, including Farhana Yamin, Rupert Read and Paul Allen‏. The conversation was distilled in phases by a team of volunteer facilitators.

What emerged was a sense that culture would do well to become radically collaborative moving forward (the word ‘ego’ came up quite a lot). The idea of creating rapid and imperfect prototypes for a liveable, non-harmful future was also very popular. Something Paul Allen said rang true: ‘We must act wisely, no matter how straining. We must not waste this emergency.’

XR Marlborough block the high street

11 MAY | Marlborough High Street

200 Marlborough rebels blocked the high street to demand action from their government.

‘Love All, Hate Plastic’ Wimbledon action – XR Wandsworth and Merton

Rebels from XR Wandsworth and Merton dressed up and staged a street theatre tennis match outside Wimbledon between a giant squid and a plastic water bottle labelled ‘Naive’ (a clever anagram of Evian) because it’s naive to think we can recycle our way out of the plastic crisis.

Wimbledon’s sponsors include drinks companies Evian and Robinsons who are responsible for adding to the unacceptable proliferation of single-use plastic waste that threatens biodiversity in our oceans and contributes to climate chaos. This action playfully dramatised the competition in the ocean between wildlife and our convenient plastics habit.

Wimbledon could and should be following in the recent line of plastic-free events.

The Penitents of Penzance

21 JUN | Penzance

The Penitents’ first outing was to support Penzance Youth Strike in a trial run of sorts to see how the public would react. The demonstration is based on the medieval concept of atoning for transgressions, either religious or against the community, by walking through that community in sack-cloth and ashes. In this resurrected idea, the transgressions are round The Penitents’ necks: Dirty Coal, Fossil Fuels, Fracking, Poison Pesticides, Logging, Waste (the causes of the climate crisis, rather than the outcomes).

In supporting the Youth Strikers who were chanting and calling for the changes we need, the demonstration was more effective than we could have hoped for. People stopped, read, photographed and commented. It appeared to have an emotional impact.

It is a simple idea and inexpensive to execute, making it easy to replicate. The costume is hessian over a single sheet with a small slit in it. Our hessian had the XR symbol on the back. The make-up is very dilute kaolin painted over face, hair, hands and forearms with a red tear-drop falling from one eye.

Note: The dog is optional.

We are looking forward to seeing The Penitents of XR Helston in West Cornwall, and hopefully more penitents further afield, too!

XR Hull Die-in and Bike Ride

29 JUN | Hull

Plymouth It’s Time To Wake Up: Singing Flash-Mob and Die-In

6 July | Plymouth

Rebels from South East Cornwall gathered in Plymouth’s largest shopping mall this Saturday to draw attention to how unbridled overconsumption in wealthy countries is directly contributing to the destruction of the planet. They encouraged shoppers to ‘wake up’ by lying down in a mass die-in. During the action, a theatrical sketch ensued between Death, who was continuing with ‘business as usual’, and a number of courageous young Earth Protectors who called for immediate action. “We are inheriting a dying planet”, said one Earth Protector, aged 13, “we deserve better than this”.

The die-in was preceded by a singing flash-mob and followed by a clothes swap, demonstrating that sustainable behaviour allows new items to be obtained ‘for a song’.

XR Swansea Pink Sparrows

07 | Jul, Swansea

XR Swansea Pink Sparrows ground display, emulating the Red Arrows formations at the Wales Air Show in Swansea this weekend, performing before 250,000 good Swansea folk. A good piece of serious XR fun ✈

XR Hailsham ‘Walk for the Earth’

22 JUN | Hailsham

join the rebellion