We caught up with three members of the creative team from Green Shoots – director Katie Day, writer Sudha Bhuchar, and John Sear, game designer & software developer – to ask them about their roles in the project, what they have learned while working on it, and its potential legacy.
SUDHA BHUCHAR: WRITER
Tell me a bit about your role within the Green Shoots creative team.
I was brought on by Katie [Day] and John [Sear]. They were looking for a writer to collaborate with on the Green Shoots project, so I had to apply and then was interviewed and was delighted to get the job. I knew it was going to be an incremental thing that they built, so I was very intrigued and thrilled to be asked to be part of it.
What made you interested in being part of the project?
I looked up the work [The Other Way Works] had done and I was very intrigued in that whole thing of experiential theatre, not theatre in a conventional way, and having an experience that will remain with you because you’ve felt it more deeply than just sat in the audience. I was intrigued with that, and the subject of climate change issues as well as working with kids – making work from being out and doing a residency with kids and getting their opinions. A lot of my work is from research, and interacting with people, verbatim, recordings, reflecting back stories from the field as it were, so I was interested in being able to apply that collaboratively to this project.
What do you think is new or interesting about this project?
Obviously young people and kids of that age are really interested in climate change, they see it as something that is deeply already affecting them – their whole futures are shaped by the unknown around the earth, as we found with the primary schools we went too. That’s one part of it. What children think and what they think their future is, is of great interest to me. I have kids but they’re older, but I have nieces and nephews of that age. Also the whole process of making it, it’s unlike anything I’ve done before, where you’re building it from prototypes, integrating, playing games, with a grandparent and a child experiencing it together, playing a game. From that they’re having an inter-generational conversation about climate change. I just find it all very organic and interesting.
In terms of the creative process do you think you’ve learnt anything from this that might change the way you work on future projects?
It is very iterative. I have worked in that way before but not exactly the same; mostly I’m used to delving into the unknown and just trusting a process. For instance, I’ve just done a project called Final Farewell at Tara Arts which was an audio walk; I’ve never done something like that before but when you have collaborators, everybody brings different things to the table. What I’ve found with this project is I can bring my practice to the table and learn from John and Katie and how they work. What I loved is that Katie and John and us saying ‘we don’t know’ – and we actually don’t know! We remind ourselves that we collectively don’t know, so then you’re building the story from fragments as you pick them up. Going into the schools has been incredible, and there’s so much material that comes from the mouths of children, watching them play games. I’m very much about taking anything that shines and trying to use it. At the end of the day there’s not going to be huge text in this project, so how do I bring the best of myself – the performative side of it. What’s been really lovely is in the prototype we’re doing right now there are conversations between the kids that could be in the theatre piece, but you have to scan a QR code and then you find it. It feels like you can integrate things and it comes out differently to any of us individually. I am a writer that goes into the field, but I also write alone as well, but I’m not the main artist in the room, there isn’t a main artist in the room which is lovely as well. If anything, it’s the voices of the kids, the characters we created, and the grandmother. It’s quite inspiring. But we still don’t know what it is yet.
Is there anything as part of the creative process that has been particularly memorable or moving or surprising?
It’s hard to pick. I just think the combination of the three of us, also Fateha who’s been doing the workshops, how brilliant she is at eliciting the most amazing conversations from the children. The kids have been memorable, and I can see that they’re directly feeding into the work. Katie and John have been great to work with, I’ve never worked with somebody who makes games or makes experiences in that way.
Is there anything you’d like to tell fellow creatives?
We were at SOAS University and a student said “at least if you’re searching you know you’re lost”. A lot of people don’t acknowledge that they’re lost. That quote came back to me because I have come into this project feeling lost. We jokingly say to Katie ‘come on you need to sack me because I don’t know what I’m doing’ and she’ll say ‘no you can’t go, because none of us know what we’re doing’. I love the idea that we’re searching together, and then you’ll find a clearing, or you’ll find something, and then to see it coming into focus. We started with the colouring in of certain numbers and now the picture is starting to emerge.
How does it feel to work on something with a legacy beyond a performance, or beyond a moment in time where a play is performed?
It’s really exciting! At the moment we’re doing the “micro bits”, but you can already see the people we’ve created, and then seeing them illustrated, it feels like a world is building which was totally inspired by real kids. I love to work like that; reflecting back to people with their stories transformed. And to be able to, on a basic level, have some live interactions during Covid! To be able to go into a school and see 100 kids in one day and hear their voices. It’s such a diverse school too and it’s great for the global majority to be the majority in Britain in that environment. It’s very moving to hear some of their own stories from those kids who have been climate migrants, and it’s heart-breaking to hear their hopes clouded by what their fears are, but there is so much hope.
What do you hope the legacy will be from this project?
I think it would be totally insane to say we’ll end climate change, but to be able to capture those conversations, to capture fear and make it into hope, to have something tangible that generations can play together and talk about together. I don’t even think a lot of those conversations are reaching that family level. To not feel like it’s too big that you can’t do something.