Two Canaries on climate change at The Blue Room Theatre

Alexa Taylor. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d495396
Alexa Taylor. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d495396

DIRECTOR Alexa Taylor is determined not be the person who flooded The Blue Room Theatre.

This may sound like an unusual ambition but makes sense after Taylor has given set designer Tessa Darcey the task of filling the stage with water for her latest production, Two Canaries.

“The stage has many, many layers of pond liner and there is hopefully no danger at all to theatre,” Taylor, of Northbridge, said.

“It was inspired by a conference called Two Canaries that looked at the Arctic regions of the world and the Pacific regions of the world and how they are the canaries in the coalmine of climate change.

“In the Arctic region, ice is melting and in the Pacific regions water is rising. I thought water was an interesting thing to play with in light of that.

“In an artistic context it also looks pretty on stage when you shine light on it or reflect something in it.”

Alexa Taylor. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d495396

The 37-year-old creative completed a PhD in performance studies and sustainability at Murdoch University in 2016 and said Two Canaries partly sprang from that experience.

“I think climate change is one of those problems that’s so big it’s really hard to think about, let alone deeply engage with or respond to as individuals,” Taylor said.

“I’m really interested in how theatre and creative arts can give us a different way in to a topic.

“I wanted to create a space where people could look at it without feeling lectured at or being told what to do, and to leave with a bittersweet feeling of having looked at a hard topic but come through it a little more connected and able to think about this big issue we’re facing.”

The result is a theatre performance which relies less on a storyline and more on other forms of language, including live music from violinist Brooke Wilson and projections by video artist Edwin Sitt.

Performers Jess Nyanda Moyle and Zoe Street take on the roles of two canaries, while at other times address the audience as themselves.

“Brooke is sometimes a third presence onstage when the violin music playfully responds to what’s happening and other times she underscores a particular moment,” Taylor said.

“I promised the panel in my application that it wouldn’t just be sad violin music because I’m aware it can be a very sad instrument.

“It’s really beautiful and rare in a small theatre space like The Blue Room to have a live musician on stage. I thought it would be an interesting dynamic.”

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THE ESSENTIALS

What: Two Canaries

Where: The Blue Room Theatre

When: September 10-21, 24-28

Tickets: www.blueroom.org.au