National Youth Theatre and University of Hull Announce Major Three-Year Environmental Project MELT on Earth Day

National Youth Theatre MELT
National Youth Theatre MELT

On Earth Day, the National Youth Theatre (NYT) in partnership with the University of Hull announces MELT, a major new three-year project exploring climate change and culminating in an outdoor processional piece with a cast of 1000 young people.

In light of current restrictions on movement, MELT will begin interactive digital research and development sessions and group rehearsals in May 2020 via video conferencing with an initial cast of 200. These sessions will inform a series of physical and digital dramatisations focusing on the flooding of coastal areas caused by climate change and will be released over the course of the next three years. On 20 June 2020, the longest day of the year and Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, a digital sharing of work created by members during the research and development phase will be live-streamed via www.nyt.org.uk/melt, and will include an invitation to young people from across the UK to join the creative conversation in response to the climate crisis. The programme finale will see a large-scale processional outdoor piece travel through cities and sites on the East Coast of England in 2021/22 to highlight the climate emergency. Dates and locations will be announced in due course.

MELT is led by NYT Artistic Director Paul Roseby as Creative Director, working with Zoe Lafferty, Associate Director of The Freedom Theatre, Palestine and Joel Scott, Artistic Director at Goat and Monkey and Associate Artist with Punchdrunk. They are joined by award-winning 16-year-old writer Freya Hannan-Mills, who is the first of a collective of young writers to be commissioned from NYT’s on-going online youth-curated events during lockdown, which include RUSH a showcase for Britain’s best young artists of colour curated by Shakira Newton on 3 May (www.nyt.org.uk/rush). Hannan-Mills successfully auditioned for the NYT in 2019 as part of the free Auditions Access Fund, supported by Patron and alumnus Hugh Bonneville.

MELT will be created in collaboration with leading climate scientists from the University of Hull’s Energy and Environment Institute, alongside experts in human geography, and other specialisms who will work with creative talent from the National Youth Theatre over the coming months to help bring the show to life. The University is committed to help combat climate change and its impacts through research, education and by mobilising the power of communities. It brings together world-leading flood and flood resilience specialists within the Energy and Environment Institute helping society adapt to climate change, the collaborative power of Aura addressing the causes of climate change through innovation in offshore wind and low carbon technologies with a rich heritage and expertise in the humanities and creative arts.

MELT is the fourth major environmental work at NYT in the last decade, following S’warm which saw hundreds of young actors swarm iconic London sites in 2010, SLICK in response to plastic in our oceans at Sheffield’s Park Hill Estate in 2011 and FLOOD in partnership with Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation in 2018.

Paul Roseby OBE said: “I hate to be the voice of doom at a time when we’re all stuck in the world of Zoom and isolation but we can not let our creative hearts and minds ignore the critical issue that is the Climate Crisis. A year on from Extinction Rebellion and its resulting awareness and division, MELT will seek to galvanize hundreds of Britain’s best young creative voices from across the UK to animate a series of stories founded in scientific fact but told in imaginative bold.  Equally important, is how MELT is being designed with thanks to our collaboration with the University of Hull to drive positive social and environmental change. This unique partnership will focus not only on the impact of rapid melting polar ice caps and the consequences of increased flooding and famine, but also on how to directly inspire and connect young people to long term careers in sustainable local industries in and around the East Coast of England.”

Associate Director Zoe Lafferty said: “As the devastating effects of the climate crisis destroys people’s lives across the world, young people are leading the fight for the right to life. It is an honour to collaborate with the National Youth Theatre and their young artists across Britain, and through culture demand that younger generations not only have a right to a future but reimagine a world with equality and justice at its core.”

Louise Smith, Director of Aura, University of Hull: “Now more than ever before, we need to work together to transform the way we live and work, to find solutions to the challenges brought about by climate change. Through the University of Hull’s Aura partnership in the Humber, we are shaping the future of offshore wind and low carbon energy through collaboration and innovation. We are delighted to be partnering with NYT in Melt. Through this creative approach we want to inspire the brightest, creative young minds to join a new green energy industry; to be part of a smart, skilled, diverse workforce – helping us to make brilliant ideas come to life, to bring the region together to shape a sustainable future for all the community.”

Professor Dan Parsons, Director of the Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull “With a focus on the challenges associated with climate change, the priorities and aims of the Energy and Environment Institute at the University of Hull chime very closely with the objectives of the production. The aims of MELT, in communicating the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise, very closely align with the University of Hull vision that seeks a brighter, fairer, carbon neutral future for our global society – alongside our target of becoming the first net zero university campus in Europe.”

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