Water security and climate action to be explored through theatre with communities

Media Relations Team, 26 June 2024

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Someone holds the world in their hands in a pool of water

UWE Bristol has been successful in receiving funding from the UKRI ESRC to support an international research project that will innovatively embed theatre practice to work with less heard communities who face water insecurity (e.g. shortage, inundation, poor water quality). It will co-examine and debate options for mitigating and adapting to climate change within particular places and river catchments.

The project received $1.5million through the New Frontiers In Research Fund international program intended to support interdisciplinary ‘high-risk, high-reward’ research projects with international collaborators.

UWE Bristol will work with University of Saskatchewan (USask) in Canada, University of New Hampshire in the USA, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany, Technical University of Dresden in Germany and University of Alberta in Canada, over the next four years. 

The project titled ‘Climate Collaboratorium: Co-creation of Applied Theatre Decision Labs for Exploring Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation’ aims to engage water-insecure communities.

It will use an applied theatre-based approach to develop strategies to effectively communicate solutions for water and climate-related challenges at the often-overlooked community level. The researchers will begin with mixed media workshops in less heard, water-insecure communities bringing different knowledge together to generate ideas on adapting to climate change. In the UK, they will work across generations with urban communities alongside in the River Severn catchment. 

UWE Bristol, through its College of Arts, Technology and Environment building fund, has brought an interdisciplinary team together for this silo-breaking research to promote Sustainable Development Goal 13 for climate change action; its Centre for Water, Communities and Resilience will collaborate with the acta Community Theatre Company.

Sarah Berridge, Senior Lecturer in Drama at UWE Bristol, said: “This is an opportunity for the community to share authentic stories and insights of universal significance and relevance, both locally and internationally, developing research and innovative practice and essentially – ‘theatre’, that will have impact beyond our respective institutions.”

Carla Orosz, head of USask’s Department of Drama, will be part of the design and script development team that will help turn data from the workshops into shows.

Orosz said this kind of project was an excellent example of combining environmental science, social science, and theatre in an effective way by integrating theatre directly with the project.

“Art is more accessible than a research paper … it’s a thing we interact with almost daily,” said Carla. “I think when we’re bringing arts and science together this way, we’re helping our general public get that important information out wider.”

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