Preview: As The World Tipped

Drama, aerial performance and video combine in a powerful new large-scale show about climate change, writes Kevin Bourke

Hero image

“Aerial theatre, especially in the open air, has the ability to awaken senses that lay dormant in the audience. They’re not just sitting respectfully in a theatre environment. You actually take their feet off the floor and allow them to dream, to open their heart and soul,” passionately believes Wendy Hesketh, co-founder of the Wired Aerial Theatre.

The innovative Liverpool-based company has now joined forces with Nigel Jamieson, one of the world’s leading exponents of large-scale events and ceremonies, for a new show called As The World Tipped, a dramatic outdoor spectacle combining video visuals with aerial performance, humour and emotion to confront the issues of climate change.

The spectacular show’s first northern date is outside Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. Jamieson’s worldwide credits include the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the closing ceremony of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and the opening of Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008, when he directed two large-scale shows, both the official opening ceremony and Liverpool – The Musical. It was in the run-up to that event that he first met Wired Aerial Theatre’s co-founders Hesketh and Jamie Ogilvie.

“He briefly came into our brand new but pretty spartan and rundown space as we were dancing around in tea-cosies,” laughs Hesketh.

Inappropriate headgear aside, Jamieson and Wired shared a passion for solving the thorny question of how to combine theatre and aerial work. So when they found themselves working together again a year later at a week-long seminar on that very topic, a firm decision was taken to somehow work jointly on a show.

“I’d been struck by the way they blended aerial and circus techniques with content and narrative,” Jamieson recalls. “So when they asked me if I’d like to create a piece of work with and for them I was pleased and excited that I had an opportunity to do it when the project won the £30,000 TippingPoint/Without Walls co-commission.

“It gave me a chance to use theatre to explore something that has become very much a passion of mine in recent times – climate change. It’s one of the most important challenges the world faces. Yet the politicians seem to have failed to really address an issue that confronts all of us, and all of the species and creatures that we share this planet with. So now it’s a moment for artists to join that debate and, through performance, As The World Tipped confronts it head on, in a powerful, dramatic way.”

The adrenalin-packed action of the show takes place at the secretariat of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference when harassed staff fail to notice as the world around them literally slides towards disaster. It features not only a superlative cast of aerial performers and climbers, but also boasts music composed by Patrick Dineen, while the onstage film footage has been created by the BAFTA award-winning Diarmid Scrimshaw, and editor Chris Newcombe.

It also includes footage from the film Home by Yann Arthus Bertrand, the French photographer and film maker whose book The Earth From The Sky has been a bestseller for the last 10 years.

“This project has been so important and exciting to us,” says Hesketh. “And it still moves me to tears that it touches people the way it seems to.

I sometimes feel like someone out of Take That when we find people literally queuing up after the show to talk to us about it, whether they’re activists or just ordinary families who’ve been moved by the show.”

As The World Tipped is at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, 30-31 July, Castlefield Arena, Manchester,19-20 August, and Kendal Mint Fest, 4 September

Interact: Responses to Preview: As The World Tipped

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.