Our new Inspire series shares some of the projects that are taking place across Wales by storytellers and artists. The second Inspire blog for September comes from Chris Harris who is working on a project between artists in Wales and Norway to create an audio series, which looks at the effects of Climate Change on culture.
What is the project?
‘The Atlantis Project’ is an exciting and thought-provoking audio series in 5 parts. Created as an international collaboration between artists in Wales and Norway, we uncover the effects of climate change on culture through the adventurous and heart-warming story of Evie and Deean – two teenagers who invite us into their world of friendship, crisis and acceptance.
The project began as an international collaboration between my long-time collaborator and friend Eliot Moleba and I. We were discussing different stories for a year that might lend themselves well to young listeners, but bridge important subject matters applicable to Welsh and Norwegian listeners. Arguably, climate change is the biggest threat the world is facing; but its effect on culture is a large, less-addressed issue under its umbrella. Inspired by the oncoming devastation of Fairbourne in Gwynedd, as well as the native Sami people of northern Norway, we decided to create our own fictional world in which an ancient, native culture will be pushed more into westernised society as a result of rising sea levels. ‘The Atlantis Project’ – a game our two protagonists play on the beach, turns into a meta-theatrical device for informing young listeners across the globe of what is happening to seafront communities, and how they have the power to influence change.
Who is it for and how can people get involved/engage?
Whilst there is no material in the piece that will be unsuitable for younger audiences, we recommend it for ages 11+ due to the nature of its theming.
The audio series will be released 11 September 2020, 7pm, following an initial launch event. The episodes will be available on AM, Soundcloud and www.chrisharristheatre.com | https://www.amam.cymru/theatlantisproject. Following each episode, there are a series of discussion questions and activities alluding to the content and themes of the story that can be enjoyed as an individual, as a classroom or as a family.
Tell us more about yourself in a short biog. How did you start storytelling? How long have you been doing this? Where are you based etc? How do you work with story?
I am a bilingual theatre maker – born and living in south Wales – and primarily working in the Welsh language. I graduated from Aberystwyth University with a BA in Drama in 2014, and then from the University of Amsterdam with an MA in Dramaturgy in 2019. I have created work for children, young people and adults across multiple mediums. I have worked with a range of technological disciplines and with many theatre and opera companies in Wales, the UK and internationally. I create work that explores imaginary worlds from different perspectives; sometimes inspired by history, and sometimes entirely fictional. I am always invigorated by curiosity and the imagination, and as I mature and progress in my craft, I continuously question what theatre is and has the potential to be.
I think any kind of performance-making requires a love and knowledge for storytelling. I started focusing more on the story of the characters (as opposed to the overly-engineered term “plot”) when I realised that, if it entertained me, then that’s how the story needed to be told. I’ve learnt that story (and character) is all you really need. That can be moulded into any kind of performance form – anywhere, in any way!
Lockdown Watch – something you have seen online that you want to share e.g. a video/podcast/online event that has inspired you at this time?
Catherine Dyson and Theatr Iolo’s ‘Transporter’ is an incredibly inspiring listen. It forced me to think about imaginative storytelling in a different way. But I’ve mainly been watching all those classic films I should have watched years ago – as well as revisiting some old favourites. Taika Waititi and Noah Baumbach’s work has been hugely inspirational – as well as watching the entire canon of ‘The Simpsons’ with my partner (we still have a long way to go!).