The climate which enabled the appearance and development of our civilization is changing dangerously due to human activities. Scientists from all over the world are drawing attention to the impending climate breakdown and ecological collapse, and calling for comprehensive political, economic and technological solutions to reduce (and by 2050 eradicate) carbon dioxide emissions.

It is certain that if effective pressure is to be created in order to force people to seek comprehensive solutions that will have a significant impact on all our lives, it is essential to strive for the broadest possible social consensus on issues concerned with the climate and its protection. It is probably also equally certain that a consensus can only be achieved via a rational, multi-level discussion among responsible and truthfully informed individuals and whole communities. A discussion free of purposefully evoked fear, which has a paralyzing effect, and free of accusations and the labelling of those who have an opposite view from ours, or those who are just forming their opinion.

The climate which enabled the appearance and development of our civilization is changing dangerously due to human activities. Scientists from all over the world are drawing attention to the impending climate breakdown and ecological collapse, and calling for comprehensive political, economic and technological solutions to reduce (and by 2050 eradicate) carbon dioxide emissions.

It is certain that if effective pressure is to be created in order to force people to seek comprehensive solutions that will have a significant impact on all our lives, it is essential to strive for the broadest possible social consensus on issues concerned with the climate and its protection. It is probably also equally certain that a consensus can only be achieved via a rational, multi-level discussion among responsible and truthfully informed individuals and whole communities. A discussion free of purposefully evoked fear, which has a paralyzing effect, and free of accusations and the labelling of those who have an opposite view from ours, or those who are just forming their opinion.

There are only few years that – according to scientists – are left to us to take action in order to avoid irreversible changes, and this time is running out. Despite that, we cannot omit or neglect the needed discussion due to the lack of time. The question is not whether we can afford to have a discussion at all but: Can we afford not to discuss this? It is becoming increasingly clear that not only the climate of the planet Earth is at stake, but also the internal cohesion of the societies that inhabit it. Neither of them can be exchanged for the other.

Theatres are also asking a number of questions in this connection: first and foremost they are asking about their own responsibility and the role which they have to and can play during a “climate emergency”. As the dramaturgical committee of the festival we are convinced that it is not enough to move to more economical technologies or just inform people truthfully, and that only a free, open, tolerant, in one word “democratic” society can successfully tackle climate change. This is the societal, social and political climate we want to promote. One of the forms such advocacy can take could well be an international festival like this one, organized by joining the forces of several theatres here in the famous heart of Europe.

Under the disturbingly ambiguous motto “Nothing is happening”, the eleventh year of the Theatre World Brno festival is trying to map out and analyze both the unnoticeable as well as the clearly visible changes to the cultural, social and political climate via its dramaturgical programme composed of carefully selected productions from all over the world.

Bremen’s The Rider on the White Horse, a classic story by Theodor Storm about the search for balance between human reason and natural forces, is set in awfully beautiful scenery created from a public collection of plastic that murmurs like the North Sea. Then there is a highly acclaimed Hamburg staging of the play On the Royal Road, which Nobel Prize holder Elfriede Jelinek started writing one day after the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States of America. You can take a festival bus to Vienna to see a performance of The Bacchae right there at the famous Burgtheater, where you can see the world in motion, characterized by the alternating rises and falls of new and old deities…

The Theatre World Brno festival does not deny the changes to the climate, nor does it play them down. It does not open doors to worlds in which they don´t exist. On the contrary, it offers the opportunity to observe them closely, to examine and evaluate them critically and speak about them with others closely and at a distance, in short: to grasp them, although they often seem so incomprehensible.

It will be an honour for us if you also choose to let yourself be swept away in the whirl of festival events. Nothing happens only seemingly.

Martin Sládeček, dramaturge of the Goose on a String Theatre