100 Years From Now: Blog by Bernadette Russell


A couple of weeks I met an amazing young woman as part of the Albany’s Summer Arts programme. She tried to explain how even though there is loads of bad stuff in the news and in the world it was alright because we had hope. She told us all the story of Pandora’s Box and I was so glad to be reminded, that after all that bad smoke came out, hope still nestled. And I was grateful to her for telling us all.

This was fortnight ago, when Mira Dovreni (of Penny Dreadful Theatre Company fame) and I worked with young people from the Albany’s Summer Arts programme in Deptford Lounge  to explore what the world might be like “100 Years From Now”. This week was part of the on-going Hothouse project withUninvited Guests, Sam Steer and Trikhon Theatre. Mira and I were looking forward to what the young people had to say, but also to finding out how we could use a working public library to perform in.

So pretty early on as well as loads of game playing, we started to try to think about ideas of utopia and dystopia, and creating physical pictures of what they might look like:

It turns out that utopia is much harder to imagine or even talk about than dystopia!

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One of the young people said :

”Utopia would be nice, but it’s not interesting as a story, because nothing happens, there is no conflict or action. With dystopia there is a story, and you are trying to make things better.”

We chatted about how there are loads more films and books and stories about Dystopia than Utopia, and why that might be.

During the week we had two main missions: to work out how we could use the library in an interesting way, and to find an innovative way of making a short piece of theatre about the future. We played loads of games, invited future names, created news flashes from the future, tried lots of chorus and ensemble work, and came up with a twenty minute taster of our week.

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Our audience were gathered in the middle of the library. There were signs up around the library- what did they mean?

 

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There were strange go-ings on. Two silent people were leaving cryptic messages on post it notes around the library, all messages were from the future. Another group of strange silent beings moved in unison, and beckoned us to follow, so with our trusty guide we did follow the, sometimes even imitating their eccentric movements. Suddenly a sombre pair announced they had travelled from the future to tell us what the world (and Deptford) would be like “100 Years From Now”. The audience followed them as they lined up in the library, introduced themselves and peeled off through a side door to lead us elsewhere…..

These visitors from the future were: (from top row, l-r)QQ3000, Luna, Big Bang Man, Solar Flare, Solar Kryptonite, Wilson 4 Tango, Solar Infinity, Shu Shang Walla and Moana.

Upstairs we sat in a circle surrounded by the time travellers. We heard a series of news bulletins about weather, technology, holidays, and breaking news items, from multiple different versions of the future. We saw and heard a space rocket take off. We heard and saw what people in the future are like. We were then offered a challenge: would we accept it? To find a book (the title of which we were given by a time traveller) which contained a message from the time travellers with a mission for us to complete? The missions were written down:

There are still some messages from the future left inside books in Deptford Lounge- let us know if you find them….but just in case you didn’t see it I’m giving the last word over to Lunar (AKA Jordan.)

 ‘To ensure the future’s bright and a wonderful utopia, I need you to be the best you can be, to never give up on your dreams or ambitions. Spread positivity, you have the power inside of you to help make the world a better place, for all of us and for future generations.’