End of Species + Forums with Climate Scientists

End of Species + Forums with Climate Scientists
18-25 August 2014

The ASCUS/Richard Pettifer project End of Species gathered together scientists, audiences and artists in dialogue, provoked by Richard Pettifer’s monologue about travelling overland and Charles Darwin. The project was an example of bare-bones theatre that was aimed at generating crucial dialogue between different disciplines, within the context of the Edinburgh Festivals – where it can be difficult to be heard amongst the noise.

Each monologue was followed by an informal interview with Climate Researcher Stephan Matthiesen of the University of Edinburgh, Department of Geosciences.

Climate Strip

Some things that happened in these forums:
– Stephan said ‘We are ‘in big trouble
– Richard got activist on Stephan, asking why there was a new strand in Arts Activism, but no equivalent strand in Science Activism?
– A retired geologist expressed scepticim about climate change, and in response to a younger scientist who said he had trouble convincing his father, said ‘I will take the position of your father
– Stephan explained some of the context of developments, including the major areas of transportation and energy
– We discussed the difficult problem of Science as a narrative (or argument) embedded in fact, and the challenges in public understanding of this. The perception of Art as ‘always a lie’ was also challenged by Richard, who referred to the extent of his research and the importance of accuracy in his work, as well as other artists working with ‘truth’
– Stephan got a bit stumped on the question of what it takes for a scientist to step away from professional objectivity and communicate directly with the public
– We speculated on what we would do in policy if we were ‘King’ of a new independent Scotland.
– We discussed the difference between German pragmatic and information approach to the information of climate change, and the UK media’s more ‘ideological’ approach

These dialogues were valuable for the public and participants alike. Stephan said the purpose of the talks for him were a “try to break the boundaries between science, art and politics in an open, participatory way”.

The event was experienced by over 50 people – a great result considering the competitiveness of Edinburgh Festivals and the fact that End of Species did not utilise any paper flyering.

Secondary Event – Edinburgh Festivals Flyer Free Day
24th August 2014

ASCUS and Richard also initiated the first Edinburgh Flyer-Free Day, an event designed to challenge the dominant tradition of ‘flyering’ in order to get audiences. Flyering is an Edinburgh tradition and exported to Fringe Festivals all over the world, but seems impractical in the face of inevitable Climate Change. #flyerfreeday was a grass-roots action supported by Creative Carbon Scotland and was disobeyed by multiple groups on the Royal Mile, who Richard subsequently filmed and interviewed about their thoughts on the environment and on the waste of flyering.


ASCUS, in association with Artiscience at Summerhall, brings theatre monologuist, critic and director Richard Pettifer (AUS) to Summerhall for a final week of the Edinburgh Festival with End of Species.

Nominated for a Fringe Sustainable Practice Award, End of Species is about climate change, an attempt to travel without flying from Australia to Germany and Charles Darwin’s voyage on the HMS Beagle.


by Richard Pettifer

Developed with support of The Yard Theatre, London.

August 18th-25th, 8pm (70 mins, forum 30 mins)

Meeting place: War Memorial Library, Ground Floor Summerhall, (next to main entrance)

Summerhall Pl, Edinburgh

End of Species

LOCATION: This event will occur in a secret location in Summerhall, is without printed publicity and is free of charge. It will be followed by some informal ‘fireside chats’ with climate scientists, where they will have the chance to discuss with Richard what they have been working on, as well as their position on the future.

Contact: 07438 581 671 (no bookings required) or general@ascus.org.uk

1831 – Charles Darwin goes to Australia on the HMS Beagle to document a world of flora, fauna and primitives. After a four-year journey, he writes On the Origin of Species, shooting humans to the top of the food chain and setting mankind on course to govern nature. 182 years later, faced with a gun-to-the-head climate scenario and unable to justify the 4 tonnes of carbon emissions of a long-haul flight, monologist and theatre director Richard Pettifer (AUS) did the journey over land. He performed in Sydney, Indonesia, India, Iran, and Romania. He was bashed, had his stuff stolen, and slept rough in an Iranian train station. There was no humanity or love. Only military, competition and fear – and no-one seemed to know about global warming.

End of Species is a story of dying optimism in the 21st century.


What is most impressive is his flair for creating and sustaining an image through his use of words

– Ignite Festival Exeter

“A good hour of stimulating talk with no excuses not to listen”

– Magnus Hagdorn  –  http://www.blipfoto.com/entry/4688558



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