Plastocracy: Where does it go?

The cast and Geoffrey in Plastocracy. Photo: Jan Potgieter.

I don’t particularly care for us Sapiens. I eagerly await the planet shaking our species off like a dog ridding itself of fleas. But it’s the fleas and the dogs I’d like to have a peaceful place to live until the galaxies collide and earth disappears. They don’t mess it up so why should they suffer the shit storm we’re causing?

Don’t worry, this ain’t no preachy bit. Chanting the reduce-reuse-recycle message here, at this stage of worldwide attention to climate issues, is like teaching you to recite the alphabet. Most of us know what we’re doing and what we should be doing.

Yet… somewhere between knowing and doing, we’re hitting a snag.

Look around. If you’re out on the streets, guaranteed there’s some litter near your feet. If you’re at a restaurant, guaranteed a massive amount of food will be wasted today and chucked out. If you’re at home – how many plastic containers do you see? Within my reach is a calculator, pens, panado bottle, hand cream, lipstick (not mine) and a flip file. And this laptop (and mouse etc.).

Plastocracy is about plastic – this material so ubiquitous, it seems impossible to imagine life without it.

Although billed as fringe physical theatre, Plastocracy is more children’s educational theatre (it should run in every SA school!), but this shouldn’t discourage you from going. Some might say ‘but clearly adults aren’t paying attention so the piece is for them too’. I agree in principle, but one uses a completely different tone for children’s theatre, and I think many adults and parents check out if they think ‘ok, this is a lesson for kids that pollution is bad’.

And there are a couple of scenes where the ‘message’ is stated aloud – if not for the kiddies needing to hear it, I would have liked the story of Geoffrey the Plastic Man to have been our focus and more layered metaphor following his story and journey. Simply through our fascination with this eerie, strange, fantastical creature, there was potential for a harder-hitting punch which wasn’t fully delivered. I wanted more of him.

Alright, that aside… some lovely stuff! I loved the ‘evangelical’ scene; people praising and worshipping plastic, irrational slaves to the world’s capitalist economy that runs on packaging. I loved the aliens visiting earth in the future once we’re dead and gone; the planet is saturated with plastic ‘artefacts’ the aliens believe to be the “oil-based intelligent lifeform… perfectly preserved” – it doesn’t disintegrate!

The cast’s singing is perfect, and they do a good job creating the caricatures they portray as the scenes chop and change, presenting various viewpoints on pollution.

And wow, Geoffrey really is amazingly crafted out of trash, designed by Francois Knoetze. His pumping red plastic heart beats faster when he’s threatened. His spindly legs tremble as he tries to stand for the first time.His funny big head and poppy eyes makes us sympathise with this strange and lonely creature.

In our current political climate (and actual climate)… think of that insult-to-humanity-manchurian-candidate-nincompoop-asshole’s recent withdrawal of the USA from the Paris agreement. Never mind the unbelievable number of denialists across the world or simply the people that don’t give a damn… With people like the aforementioned moron wielding power, we’ll keep seeing stupid, cruel decisions like the expansion of animal agriculture, clearing of forests and unique ecology, and harvesting the seas clean of fish.

At the rate we’re filling the oceans with plastic, there soon won’t be room left for any sealife.

— Sarah Roberson

Plastocracy is on tomorrow, 04 July at 16.00. Book here.

Director: Kyla Davis
Company: Well Worn Theatre Company
Puppet design: Francois Knoetze
Featuring: Lerato Sefoloshe, Sanelisiwe Yekani, Lea Vivier, Mlindeli Zondi and Antonio Van Lendt

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