When art and politics connect, the results can be really powerful, thought-provoking communication. Not only does art refresh and inspire the parts other methods cannot, it’s rocking good fun too! Over the past few months, Birmingham Friends of the Earth have been working to support award-winning opera company The Opera Group on two Birmingham performances mixing up art and activism.
Save The Diva
First, Save The Diva, a short opera focussing on climate change and consumerism, was performed guerrilla style by the Opera Group one Saturday in May at Brindley Place and the Bull Ring markets. We were on hand to explain the issues behind the performance to passers-by intrigued by the attention-grabbing antics of our Valkyrie and Tenor as they consumed merrily away like the divas they were!
Second, Seven Angels, a full-scale opera based on John Milton’s Paradise Lost tackling the same themes, premiered in Birmingham on 18 July at the CBSO Concert Hall. Coordinator Roxanne and I were again present to provide information and the big picture. We agreed the opera was great! With an amazing stage set made entirely out of books, and a backdrop of fantastic video art, our seven amnesiac angels acted out a tale of a fall from fragments of memories. A descent from Edenic plenty through over-consumption, scarcity, denial and false solutions to … hope? Channelling our inner drama critic, we noted that the use of characters – the Consumer; his indulgent parents; the Servants that provide for his every need; the General; the Industrialists – as social and political archetypes was very Brechtian. The music was beautiful, but the script and staging made you think.
Calling all artists!
We’d love to collaborate with sympathetic artists of all kinds – visual, musical, dramatical – to help bring environmental issues across to the people of Birmingham in new and unexpected ways.
If you’re interested, just make contact with us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0121 632 6909 and we’ll work together to make something happen.
Finally, big thanks to the Opera Group for making this happen and to the CBSO for their support of our presence.