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Penguins marching in theatre action events for climate change

Press Release – Massey University
Using theatre to turn people into penguins will be a symbolic way to highlight some of the planet’s most vulnerable species in this year’s global Aotearoa Climate Change Theatre Action events in Wellington.

Co-organiser Massey University’s Associate Professor Elspeth Tilley says; “human penguins” will be on the stage and in the streets of Wellington this Labour Weekend. They are showcasing how artists and performers can respond to environmental and social issues – in this case, the serious threat of global warming on the existence of Antarctica’s penguin populations.

Her new play, The Penguins, is being performed in 14 locations worldwide from Paris to Shanghai and the United States, as well as at Massey’s Wellington campus on Labour Day (October 23). It is one of nine short plays on climate change featured at this year’s Still Waving: Climate Change Theatre Action event – part of a six-week global movement to highlight climate change issues through performance.

In a thematic prelude, human “penguins” will take to the streets of central Wellington in the “Becoming Penguin” performance walk, starting at the Cenotaph at Parliament at 1pm and heading to Massey University. Participants (everyone welcome) are invited to join the walk wearing whatever black and white items they have in their wardrobe that lend a penguin “look”.

Creator of “Becoming Penguin”, Massey lecturer in the School of Design | Ngā Pae Māhutonga, Catherine Bagnall, is an artist whose work focuses on the edges of fashion studies and its intersection with performance practices.

“In the context of questions about humanity’s relationship to the planetary ecosystem and how we categorise ‘other’ species, ‘Becoming Penguin’ explores ideas about the end of the Anthropocene and the beginning of the post-human world,” Ms Bagnall says.

The walk, she says, is to “symbolise support for all the communities taking personal responsibility for climate action at a local level, when governments won’t.”

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