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FEATURE | TREEFXXXERS
When treehugging just isn’t enough
This November, UK/Australian performance company Doppelgangster are launching TREEFXXXERS, a blazing and hilarious new work of contemporary political theatre about the Sheffield Street Trees controversy.
If you’re not up to speed, a contractual agreement between Sheffield City Council and private corporation Amey has been created to manage the street trees as part of a highly, controversial and largely secret £2.2 million Private Finance Initiative. As a result, 17,500 street trees have been earmarked for destruction – and a few thousand have already been put to axe.
So, what’s TREEFXXXERS?
Tobias Manderson-Galvin, Doppelgangster Co-Director, says, “It’s Day of the Triffids meets the October Uprising. It’s some ‘borrowed’ security fencing and a whole lot of fake lumberjack beards. TREEFXXXERS is a Faustian reboot for a woke but doomed generation.”
Dr Tom Payne, Co-Director, says, “We’ve taken a collaborative approach to tackling a significant local issue in Sheffield. One that also resonates with national and international concerns about deforestation, corporate greed and political corruption.”
Doppelgangster have built a profile on staging provocative theatrical interventions about issues of social and environmental injustice. They’ve been recognised by IETM (International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts) and COAL (Coalition for Art and Sustainable Development) for their use of innovative performance techniques in engaging new audiences with the global ecological crisis. They’ve also gained notoriety for divisive and dangerous theatrics, from impersonating government officials, to one of their shows being deemed ‘too dangerous to perform’.
“We are aware that conversations around climate change can come unstuck because of the cognitive challenge of reconciling ourselves with events of global proportions,” Dr Payne continues, “this is why we are embracing this very local issue, in order to address this monumental crisis from a grassroots perspective.”
Manderson-Galvin says, “We’ve collaborated with a team of passionate young, local artists and activists. They’re the ones who’ll inherit a city of concrete and steel. They’re the ones who’ll need plague masks to leave the house. They’re the ones whose future is being sacrificed to fill the pockets of the few.”
TREEFXXXERS is part of Julie’s Bicycle’s and Arts Admin’s Season for Change. This national festival runs from June – December 2018, and features a wide range of cultural responses celebrating the environment and and inspiring urgent action on climate change. The end of the festival coincides with the 24th Conference of Parties (COP) in Katwice, Poland, where global leaders will meet in December to rescue the agreement made in Paris in 2015.
TREEFXXXERS will take place in the newly opened Performance Lab at Sheffield Hallam University. The show’s been created by Tobias and Tom in partnership with the University’s Department of Stage and Screen. The project also features a gripping and seductive score by Australian jazz luminary Jules Pascoe (JAZZPARTY, On Diamond, Husky), and the movement direction of London-based choreographer Sarah Lamb.
Dr Payne, says, “On one hand, Doppelgangster are delighted to be making this work in our new home in the city of Sheffield. On the other, with a universally acknowledged twelve-year window to avert an irreversible ecological crisis, we can’t believe that a local government – Labour at that! – is persisting with a course of action that not only undermines the local community and environment, but also demonstrates a disregard for the coming climate catastrophe.”
TREEFXXXERS by Doppelgangster runs from Nov 27 until Dec 1, at the Performance Lab, Sheffield Hallam University.