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Arts / Dance-theatre show to reflect on changing climate

Photo: Brian Hartley

AN “URGENT and timely” dance-theatre performance which reflects on Australian’s experience of devastating bushfires is taking place at Mareel this weekend.

Burnt Out, which will take to the stage at the Lerwick venue on Saturday (16 September), also touches on the personal experience of the daughter of an environmental geochemist.

There are also youth and adult workshops taking place on Thursday and Friday respectively.

Weaving spoken word, movement and a “lump of coal”, the show is said to ask the question ‘why do we feel we are unable to acknowledge the changes around us even when surrounded by thick smoke?’

Described as “a generous and eloquent performer”, Glasgow-based performer Penny Chivas draws on her own experience of the fires.

Growing up in Australia, she experienced the Canberra fires of 2003, the blacked skies over Melbourne during Black Saturday 2009, and during a visit in 2019.

Her experiences are contrasted with Australia’s reliance on coal – even using coal-powered electricity to “clean the air” during the fires.

Paul Michael Henry’s soundscape captures the sounds from the fires – from choppers circling overhead, to the sirens used and the calls of magpies mimicking the wail of fire engines.

Burnt Out is visiting Lerwick as part of a tour which runs until 28 October.

Each performance will be followed by a post-show discussion with a local environmental activist, and in this case it will be artist Paul Bloomer.

Chivas said: “This performance feels special as I’m delighted to be holding two indoor/outdoor movement workshops prior to Saturday and have been particularly inspired by the raw power of Paul Bloomer’s work.

“As the tour continues I’m realising all of this really is a chance to exchange ideas with the local community around the role of art during our era of climate breakdown; my story reflecting the patterns we all find ourselves in.”

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In line with Chivas’ commitment to being ethically sustainable, the tour is aspiring to be done by public transport – train/bus and ferry travel and any car transportation, with mileage tracked and recorded.

The performance is suitable for audiences aged 12+, and tickets can for the show and workshops be bought online.

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