To the ends of the Earth
On her return from the 2010 expedition theatre director Deborah Warner writes for The Independent about discovering the hard, shattering truth about climate change and how she has to put it on stage.
Deborah Warner: To the ends of the Earth
The Independent, 23 October 2011
“… [Kay] has a splinter of glass in his heart, and another in his eye. These must come out or he’ll stay bewitched, and the Snow Queen will keep her hold over him forever!”The Snow Queen, Hans Christian Andersen
Svalbard. The cold coast, mythical home of the Snow Queen’s palace in Hans Christian Andersen’s story of “The Snow Queen”. For a long time this was a land beyond the realm of maps, an imagined fantastical place of such purity that it was thought by some to be an icy Eden. A tiny-looking land on the World Atlas I borrowed, six weeks ago, when I was invited by Cape Farewell to join their 2010 expedition to the high Arctic; an invitation which nothing could make me refuse, not even my fear of sea-sickness.
Cape Farewell invites artists to the Arctic in the hope that they will engage creatively with climate-science, and find new ways to communicate the story. It is a complicated story. The media like to pitch one scientist against another in the war of sound bites – because mere sound bites cannot accommodate the necessarily complex scientific information. But the climate-change consensus is very clear; 95 per cent of scientists cannot be wrong, although politicians, who deal in the short term, may not wish to hear the truth of what they say…