Climate crisis takes centre stage at Edinburgh Fringe

1 August 2019, 21:43 | Updated: 2 August 2019, 05:02

Climate Change isn't a laughing matter - it's one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century - yet the crisis figures strongly at this year's Edinburgh Fringe festival.

Leading the creative and comedic call to action are rebel-activists from Extinction Rebellion.

The movement which brought cities to a standstill with its protest back in April, has been given a residency at key Fringe venue, Summerhall.

Curator, artist and activist Natalie Taylor is hoping the group can connect with audiences in a new way.

"One of the things for me about art is that it can reach emotional levels that perhaps a scientific report can't," she said.

"In a sense I think people can become quite numb to hearing all the bad news and I think that sometimes if an artist is trying to explain the same information to you, it comes across in a different way."

Throughout August, as well as an exhibition featuring artists which include Turner Prize nominee Monster Chetwynd, a range of documentaries will be shown and performances will be staged.

Inviting the climate campaigners to curate their own programme at Edinburgh might seem like an unusual choice, but art and design has proven to be an incredibly effective tool for galvanising public support for the movement.

So much so that the V&A; recently announced it has started gathering objects from the group's protests for their own collection.

Although global warming is a serious business, comedian Jon Long believes the doom and gloom of what's ahead might be best served with a dose of humour.

He wrote his stand-up show Planet Killing Machine whilst working at a recycling plant.

"The fact it's so serious is one of the factors why we put off talking about it quite a bit," he said.

"The fact that it's happening in the future, we can't really think about it.

"Comedy can be quite a good way to sneak in a few of the facts, putting some sugar in the medicine."

Improvised comedy Pathetic Fallacy looks at our changing relationship to weather.

Each night a different performer steps in front of a green screen without knowing what's in store for them.

Comedian and clown Luke Rollason took the lead in the very first show. He says he was up for taking part because he believes it's nowhere near as challenging as the problems our planet is facing.

"If climate change is a palatable narrative then we're not going to change our habits, it's only really by encountering something that we feel the hugeness of that we have a chance to make the huge changes that need to be made."

Arguably the biggest challenge at Edinburgh will be persuading audiences that they can't just be passive - that tackling our ecological emergency requires us all not to watch but to act.

  • Jon Long: Planet Killing Machine is on daily at 9.30pm until 25 August at Underbelly
  • Pathetic Fallacy is being performed on various dates at 5pm on various dates up until 25 August at CanadaHub, Summerhall
  • Extinction Rebellion's curated show runs until 25 August in Summerhall lower galleries.