Planet Parliament Now! is immersive, participative theatre, co-created and co-produced with and for students. We had an electric live performance on 20th March 2019 with students from University of Salford, The Manchester College (Sheena Simon ), Connell Sixth Form, Marple Sixth Form and Xaverian College.
Livestreamed to University of Salford social media accounts, there have been over 1300 views as of now just two days later. The performances given were powerful. Some had a day to prepare, others just a morning. It was a big achievement together.
University of Salford conservation students, led by Laura Praill took to the stage for a powerful intervention. They launched a new movement to plant a tree and rewild uni campuses. Young people are taking real action against climate change!
If you are a student at University of Salford, vote for Laura’s Big Idea.Only 150 votes are needed for the proposal to become policy.
If you are a student elsewhere then launch your own plant a tree campaign and tweet to @theplanetvotes know and we will help you spread the word!
Dr Umran Ali’s amazing virtual reality Amazon Rainforest will be premiered in the University of Salford’s immersive classroom. Video-gaming technologies can be powerful tools for learning. They can help us connect with places far away and through building a sense of wonder can help us to learn to care for and protect our planet.
Dr Umran Ali’s fully immersive virtual rainforest is modelled on the real Amazon rainforest. It is complete with a gentle breeze blowing through the tree’s and ferns. Gnats and insects inhabit the forest floor and the whole forest is visualised moving through a day and night cycle. The flora and fauna you see are actual species of plants and animals in the real Amazon, ranging from Bromeliads and Heliconia to species of tropical fungi. His virtual rainforest has been built using Crytek’s advanced games engine, Cryengine. It is a prototype for further development and research into the delivery of immersive environmental education.
Please ensure you have photography/film consent forms signed by a parent or guardian if you are under 18 Photography Release Form (under 18). Without this, you will not be able to participate without these consents as the event is live streamed.
Don’t forget your friends and family can watch you live on the University of Salford Facebook and You Tube pages:
In the Amazon rainforest it is meant to rain and it is meant to be hot. This is the perfect environment for its plants and wildlife, adapted to the tropics. The air is always humid in the Amazon and even in the so-called dry season it rains. In the wet season it just rains a whole load more.
An increase in rain brings more fruit production which means more animal species (including monkeys and fruit-eating birds and fruit-eating bats) increase activity and also begin their reproductive cycles. You never know when you might be lucky enough to come across one of the Amazon’s wildlife dwellers but you can be certain of rain.
Or can you always be certain of rain in the Amazon? Climate change is having an impact on the weather on rainfall patterns. Sometimes the rainy season comes too early or there is too much rain and flooding which is bad for the natural patterns of growth and fruiting. Too little rain brings drought and fire – which is the plot line in Planet Parliament Now!
Droughts are becoming more frequent in the Amazon rainforest. There have been three major droughts on a scale meant to be seen only once every 100 years in the space of just 10. The number of fires always rises in the dry season but in 2016, a count made by VIIRS satellite sensor revealed more than 6,000 hotspots.
Planet Parliament Now! is participative theatre set in the not-too-distant or unlikely future. Climate change has caused catastrophic droughts in the Amazon and the rainforest is burning. Planet Parliament meets to decide how to protect it.
Planet Parliament is a supranational body whose purpose is to protect our planet on which all life depends. Two parties dominate: the Liberationists and the Survivalists. The Liberationists believe capitalism is to blame for mankind’s exploitation of Nature (and man’s inhumanity towards man). The Survivalists believe in the survival of the fittest and that if mankind destroys the planet on which they depend for life, they deserve to die. One side wants the rich to pay to save the Amazon rainforest. The other thinks it is a waste of tax payers’ money.
The motion to be debated, tabled by the Survivalists: it is too late to save the Amazon rainforest.
THE SURVIVALIST LEADER
The Survivalist Leader is a passionate believer that Nature rules and the first rule of Nature is the survival of the fittest. Mankind is a creature like any other in the fight for survival and is the instrument of its own destruction. The fires in the Amazon rainforest are the eco-disaster his party have been waiting for. But what happens when he comes face to face with the death of a decent innocent? And what happens when the future of more innocents stands before him as Child?
ACTIVISTS – CARMEN and BRAGA
Carmen is our feisty and passionate heroine. She and Braga have infiltrated Planet Parliament to mobilise ordinary people to take action together, to save the Amazon rainforest and our planet.
RICH AMAZONIAN ROBERTO TRANI and SPEAKER
Roberto Trani (above) is a rich and powerful Amazonian who heads up Forest SOS, a global sustainable forestry business.
Speaker (above, right) is in charge of order in the House. He is meant to meant to be , honest and incorruptible to ensure unbiased debate.
‘POOR’ AMAZONIANS – GOD-MOTHER and CHILD
God-Mother and Child are Xana people of the Amazon forest. God-Mother is the voice of Nature itself and Child represents the future. Called to give witness to Parliament about the impact of fires they want their voices heard.
The Speaker calls on Poor and Rich Amazonians to give witness to the House as to the disastrous consequences for the fires. He calls on Scientists to deliver their expert opinion on the causes and whether the Amazon rainforest can still be saved. The action then take an unexpected turn…..
The Rich Amazonians in Planet Parliament Now! belong to Brazil’s powerful and rich elite. Their fortunes have been built from the natural wealth of the Amazon rainforest which is now being ravished by wildfires. The fires are destroying their livelihoods but their wealth is great. They are more resilient than the Poor Amazonians and they have powerful connections to lobby for help and turn disaster to new opportunity.
The wealth of the Amazon is inherent in its natural biodiversity – as a source for food, timber and the ability of the trees to capture carbon. Its mineral wealth includes copper, tin, nickel, bauxite, manganese, iron ore and alluvial gold. It is a living laboratory for the discovery of many modern medicines. 90% of medicinal plants used by indigenous people have not yet been studied by science and 70% of plants with anti-cancer properties are found only in the rainforest.
Once cleared (usually by burning) the Amazon rainforest provides land for large scale agriculture. Brazil is the world’s largest grower and export of soya , used to feed beef cattle. This land clearance has very negative implications with regard to local and global environmental impacts and social justice. Brazil’s agriculture industry meets the food demands of local and global consumers.
From the perspective of the indigenous people, who have lived in the Amazon rainforest for thousands of years as hunter gatherers, the history of the Amazon rainforest’s ‘development’ is one of capitalist exploitation. For them, Nature cannot be owned and is a sacred place to be looked after.
To get you into the right dramatic space for our performance on 20th March, here are is an extract from the eco-thriller novel Jabujicaba by Rosa da Silva to understand the conflict between Capitalism and Nature.
From ‘Jabujicaba’ by Rosa da Silva – the Akayan, leader of the Xana people speaks of history.
Every time we Xana welcomed your people to our Mother Forest, disaster struck. The first white man who sailed our rivers would have starved had we not helped him return to his people. As thanks he claimed our Mother Forest for his king.
Then your missionaries arrived. We allowed them to settle on our shores and to build their churches. As thanks, you killed our gods and kidnapped our children and enslaved their souls in your schools.
More of you came. The rubber tappers who stole the rubber. The miners who panned for gold. We let them live alongside us and as thanks they gave us diseases of their bodies ravished our women.
And always more of you came, destroying our forest in the name of your progress and you infected our young with the diseases of your spirit of greed.
On the day we will have science posters prepared by 3rd year conservation and zoology students University of Salford taking the Tropical Ecology module. The photos are from their recent field trip to the Amazon rainforest. Here is a sneak preview of one of the posters which critically examines the impacts of the current economic crisis in Brazil on politics and exploitation of the Amazon rainforest by E. Collins, S. Yildiz, I. Lowe, A. Johnson, K. Marratt, E. Dunbar.
FIND OUT MORE on rainforest science from Salford University students
The Poor Amazonians in Planet Parliament Now! come from the North West region of the Amazon where the Rio Negro flows. But you don’t need to travel to the deepest Amazon to fall in love with the rainforest and understand why they are so devastated their rainforest home is being destroyed by fire and global climate change.
To get you into the right emotional space for our performance on 20th March, here are some extracts from the eco-thriller novel Jabujicaba by Rosa da Silva. Share journalist/activist Carmen’s experiences when she first went there and ended up risking her life to save it.
The very same Carmen is the feisty activist video blogger in Planet Parliament Now! Carry on reading to find out where her rainforest passion comes from and to prepare for what you are up against if you are not on her side.
The photographs taken by, conservation student University of Salford were from her recent Tropical Ecology field trip up to the Rio Negro.
“THE AMAZON. A forest bigger than anybody who had never been there could possibly imagine. Who hadn’t seen pictures of a lush verdant canopy which stretched as far as the camera’s eye could see, but as Carmen flew over the Amazon for the first time in her life for real, she discovered a forest far beyond the horizons even of her imagining mind. A billion acres of a million shades of green and through the middle, winding like a shiny ribbon, the great river with its thousands branching and meandering tributaries, silting, slowing, rising, falling with the seasonal flood. It was the beginning of all beginnings. Of archetypal myths and dreams and legends.”
“THE RIO NEGRO was wide – far wider than it had seemed from the air – the water blacker with forested islands and long sandbanks, as big as an ocean, its intertwining tributaries forming archipelagos and cutting ox-bow lakes. The scenery varied although not dramatically. Carmen took her pictures. Trees leaning low over sandy beaches. Grasslands of marshy sedges and occasionally clearings with small cabal settlements, canoes and açaís palms.
The settlements were never more than a few dozen palm-thatched huts on stilts. Some were on high sandbanks which in the wet season disappeared completely. The settlements became sparser and farther between. They became smaller, tiny then singular and then stopped all together…
“THE LEAF LITTER was soft and rotten branches collapsed underfoot. The canopy closed in. They were walking now in a twilight world, where the trunks of ancient trees buttressed the canopy like the arches of a green cathedral. No two trees growing together were ever the same. Some were so tall and dense nothing lived under them at all and the going was easier than Carmen had expected. The rhythm of footfall steadied the mind. Here a plant that had been knocked to earth grew stilts to push itself back into the light and there an old tree had died and young plants burgeoned wildly and each fought the other in the struggle for life. Sometimes a patch of colour on the ground surprised Carmen and she looked up and was startled by the blossom she saw in the canopy high. Purple and yellow and red and pink and orange – flowers of the emergents. And sometimes pure shafts of light fell to earth and sprinkled gold coins at her feet. The forest here was so different from how she had imagined….”
DID YOU KNOW? The Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest in the world covering an area of over 5.5 million square kilometres. The UK and Ireland would be able to fit into this area 17 times. It represents over 50% of the rainforests on Earth and embraces 9 South American countries; Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname. Peru has the second-largest portion of the Amazon Rainforest. Illegal loggers – like the wildfires – pay little attention to boundaries.
The Amazon rainforest has one of the world’s richest ecosystems, with around 40,000 plant species, 3000 types of fish, 1300 bird species, 430 mammals and 2.5 million different insects. The Amazon River runs through the North of the rainforest and is the second longest river in the world at around 6400km in length. The Rio Negro is the largest tributary of the Amazon and its name, meaning Black River, arises from the fact that the river looks black from afar, even though it is actually just the colour of very strong tea.
[Edited from original brief by Alex C. for the Jabuji Debates – www.jabujicaba.net ]
Are you participating in Planet Parliament Now! on 20th March? Then start to prepare…
Find out about the real world science behind the drama. Here is a summary of answers to questions you might have on the Amazon rainforest which will help brief you. Answers provided are from University of Salford students (zoology and conservation science) who have just come back from their field trip to the Amazon rainforest.
The presentation is a summary of selected answers.
The story-line for our participative theatre Planet Parliament Now! on 20th March is rooted in reality. The Amazon’s São Félix do Xingu area is as large as Austria. It saw nearly 10,000 fires in 2017. The region has just eight dedicated fire fighters, but future budget cuts could impact that even further.
A recent report publishes data on the increase in wildfires on account of climate change. A vicious circle. The first increase the release of CO2, accelerating climate change, which makes the droughts worse …..