Kill The Deniers. Yep This Is A Title Of An Actual Play, Funded By Taxpayer Grant

Activists hold a banner reading 'No peace without climate justice' in front of a giant polar beer puppet called Aurora by environmental organization Greenpeace during a demonstration at the venue of the COP21 United Nations climate change conference in Le Bourget, on the outskirts of Paris, on December 11, 2015.

Kill The Greenies. That’s the title of my new play which I hope to be touring later this summer round all the usual arts festivals. There’s just one problem: I can’t seem to get the grant funding.

It really wouldn’t take much. I’ve calculated, roughly, the amount I need to motivate me to get out of bed and spend the afternoon I reckon it would take me to dash off the outline of the script would be around $15,000. (Obviously I’ll leave the boring actual writing part to my team of faceless minions, like all the best people do.)

But the weird thing is, none of the various public funding arts bodies I’ve applied to seem interested in helping out.

This is very odd. Perhaps I should take advice from the playwright David Finnigan who seems to have had better luck with a similar venture in Australia.

Late in 2014, the ACT (that’s the government of the Australian Capital Territory in Canberra), paid $18,000 to fund the development of his play Kill The Deniers. One word – that’s the only difference between his title and mine. Yet he got the taxpayer dosh and I didn’t.

What can I be doing wrong?

Well I’ve been looking at David Finnigan’s life (when he’s not working as writer, theatre-maker and festival producer, he works as a “pharmacy assistant”, apparently) and collected wisdom and I’ve realised, unlike David, that I’m just not good enough at bullshitting.

Finnigan describes his play as “a really fun, really action-packed, really over the top hostage drama, and action film genre piece; and hanging from that are some really important questions about the climate debate.”

Gosh, sounds really fun. But what’s it about?

Well, apparently, it’s

“An action movie-style drama in which Parliament House is invaded by gun-toting eco-terrorists. With the Government held hostage, and facing the threat of imminent execution unless she ends global warming immediately, the embattled Environment Minister has no choice but to defend her ideals – one bullet at a time.”

Hmm. Still a bit vague. But let me hazard a guess: the climate ‘deniers’ don’t come out of this story smelling of violets. Or, indeed, alive.

In fact, it sounds to me like masturbatory fantasy of a climate activist so convinced of the rightness of his cause that he genuinely would kinda, sorta not mind too much if ‘deniers’ were put against the wall and shot for all the damage they’ve done to the climate debate.

If he does think this way, though, Finnigan is careful not to show it in interview. Instead he deploys the bravura bullshit skills I mentioned earlier, as here:

‘If someone uses the title “kill” in an art work I think we should question that. If someone uses an inflammatory title, which Kill Climate Deniers certainly is, then they should be taken to task … Because as an artist, as much as I have a right to provoke this conversation and use the language that I’ve used in the title, I think it’s important that that doesn’t come without cost,’ he said.

‘I think it’s life and death, the situation that we’re talking about with climate change. I look at my younger relatives who are going to have to grow up in a world where we’re right now facing already the beginnings of the escalating crises that are going to be confronting us over this century, and rather than doing anything we’ve got elected officials who are actively putting roadblocks in the way of dealing with it.

‘So for me there’s no question this is a really vital conversation to be starting and I will start it with as much urgency and hyperbole as I can muster. But that doesn’t mean that I’m above criticism and it doesn’t mean that I don‘t deserve to be questioned.’

See the genius of it? It’s obvious how this guy got that $18,000 grant. Note the way that he distances himself from the brutal malevolence of his title by waffling on about art, pretending it’s just about opening up debate (“vital conversation” as he calls it) and then turning it on its head by hinting that if anyone’s doing any killing in real life it’s those pesky deniers. Let’s think of the children, he urges us (“My younger relatives”). And let’s not have any sympathy for the people standing in the way of solving the greatest problem the world has ever known (“elected officials who are actively putting roadblocks in the way.”)

Meanwhile, here’s a sneak preview of my play so far.

Act One; Scene i

A Torture Chamber. A group of bearded men in white lab coats, wearing the ribbon of the Nobel Prize to which they are not actually entitled, are stretching the latest temperature data on a giant rack.

GAVIN SCHMIDT: Warm, damn you, warm!

RAW TEMPERATURE DATA: No! Please, no! I can’t help it if I was warmer in the 1930s.

MICHAEL MANN: Fear not, Brother Gavin. I have a special method guaranteed to make this wretch tell us what we want to hear. I call it my “nature trick”. Mwahahaha.

RAW TEMPERATURE DATA: Not the nature trick. Anything but the nature trick!!!

MARK SERREZE [note to audience: no, me neither but apparently he’s director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center) turning to face the ARCTIC SEA ICE DATA which waits in the wings, bound and trussed: You’re gonna tell us you’re at your lowest winter extent in recorded history. And if you don’t…

ARCTIC SEA ICE DATA: I’ll say it. I’ll say it. I’ll say anything you want. Just don’t let that Mann near me with his bristlecone pine and his Hockey Stick…



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