Emergence at work at Headlines

“The detailed theory of emergence shows that the instabilities and subsequent jumps to new forms of organization are the result of fluctuations amplified by feedback loops. The system encounters a small disturbance, which then circulates around multiple feedback loops and is amplified until the system as a whole becomes unstable. At this point, it will either break down or break through to a new form of order.”
Fritjof Capra, in the foreword to “Theatre for Living” by David Diamond, Trafford Publishing, 2007

It is with a mixture of regret and renewed excitement that we must announce the cancellation of Headlines’ main stage Forum Theatre project for 2007/08, 2º of Adaptation. This is the first time in the theatre company’s 27 year history that a cancellation of this kind has been necessary. Below are details of what has happened, and what we feel is the natural evolution of the project into a series of grassroots events.

We have been very surprised by the difficulty we have had raising funds for the production, which was to investigate the blockages we face in making core behavioural change in our lives in relation to climate issues. Having received many rejections from potential funders, we received notice on November 15 from our final hope that they would not be supporting the project. Being approximately $70,000 short of the budget necessary for a full production at this late date, we have made arrangements with our very talented design team to pay them 50% of their fees, and to “pull the plug” on the project before it commits Headlines to a debt from which the theatre company would not recover.

We believe that part of the difficulty we encountered is a sense from some funders that the environment is something “out there” that we can go and fix, and that the solutions are “top down”. What this misses is that we are the environment. The adaptations and mitigations that are necessary in the face of climate change lie inside us.

We would like to thank the Endswell Fund of Tides Canada and McLean Foundations as well as the Columbia Institute who did offer financial support and also the individuals who made donations. We are communicating with these organizations and people about either returning the project funds, or putting them towards the evolution of the project.

To the 106 people who applied to us for places in the community workshop and cast, who by now will have heard from us directly, thank you for your deep interest and desire to confront the issue. We hope you will attend the grassroots events.

This project has had a long and interesting evolution. Four years ago we started planning a large theatre/dance production we were calling Fire Season. The production was going to be a highly produced, alarm bell ringing play, trying to get people to focus on the issue.

Last year it became apparent that the discussions around the issue had evolved beyond the Fire Season project and, in an attempt to make the production more relevant to the current climate change discussions, we adapted the plan into 2º of Adaptation: making choices while the climate changes. The interactive Forum Theatre production, created and performed by people struggling to make core behavioural change in their lives would, we felt, have a more immediate relevance in the world today.

As a build-up into the Forum production, we recently did 3 nights of “public workshop” on Nov. 8, 9 and 10 at the Rhizome Café. We called these 2º of Fear and Desire (a theatrical inquiry into climate change – with no play, no actors and no script). Here are just two of many responses from audience members:

"This is just a brief note to express my gratitude for your continued contribution to making our community (both the local, geographic one and the greater 'human' one) imminently more livable. attended 2º of Fear and Desire on Nov 9, which not only has inspired me to critically explore my own 'internal monologue' with respect to climate change, but has impressed upon me the power of Theatre for Living to coalesce the individual creative energy in our communities into constructive dialogue out of which substantive change emerges.  The key, as you are clearly aware, is that this energy emerges organically from the community which is engaged by Headlines, as opposed to the more traditional activist model of hierarchical, ideological direction from above."
Grant Jamieson, Vancouver BC (Nov, 2007)

“Thank you so much for 2º of Fear and Desire this evening on climate change. I left with a feeling of hope that I haven't had for some time now. It is precisely this kind of courageous self-exploration and community-building that needs to happen in order to effect real change on this most complex and global of issues."
Marian Rose, Vancouver BC (Nov, 2007)

It appears to us that the difficulty raising the funds for the larger project is part of a signal we are getting regarding what is most appropriate at this point in time regarding the climate change issue. The subject is so large, scary and also somewhat amorphous, that the best way to access it is in very focused, deeply grassroots events. More grassroots than Fire Season; even more grassroots than 2º of Adaptation.

So in the short term, we will be mounting up to nine 2º of Fear and Desire events in Vancouver during February/March of 2008, when the larger production was supposed to be running. We will do three in East Vancouver somewhere on or near Commercial Drive, three back at the Rhizome Café on Broadway near Main and three in Kitsilano.

In the longer term, we will be meeting with our environmental working group, representatives from: Pembina Institute, Ecojustice, Fraser Basin Council, Sierra Club of BC, Society Promoting Environmental Conservation and the David Suzuki Foundation about how we can keep working together in the future on this very important issue.

Stay tuned!

Headlines would like to thank the following for ongoing operational support: The Canada Council; BC Gaming Commission; City of Vancouver; BC Arts Council; the Melusine Foundation

Endswell, McLean and Columbia have now agreed to a funds transfer.

Headlines Homepage