Very Happy Children with Bright and Wonderful Futures is a new play from youth arts vanguard, Jopuka. Blending activism with performance, the production is told through the eyes of five young climate activists whose views are dismissed, even as a bushfire threatens their hometown.
Inspired in large part by the Black Summer bushfires and subsequent climate protests, the show boasts input from real teen climate activists, including Izzy Raj-Seppings.
Izzy was only 13 years old in December 2019 when her image became synonymous with the climate protests that flooded Sydney in the midst of the worst bushfire season on record. The protester was filmed in tears after being threatened with arrest on the steps of Government House and was then demonised by right-wing media personalities.
Now 14, the talented, passionate teenager was thrilled to have been asked by the show’s creator, Joshua Maxwell, to be involved in the production. “The way in which Jopuka Productions has created this play is pure and honest storytelling of a worldwide issue,” she said. “It’s a play that shows you what the effect of climate change is really like on an individual’s life.”
Adding further credibility to the production is fellow climate activist, Leila Mangos, with the 17-year-old credited internally with far more than just a name-check. “The frustrations, successes and failures, hopelessness and determination exhibited by the characters of this show is accurate and hits close to home as a climate activist,” she said. “This show is by young people, for young people, and it elates me that the producers of the show sought out to depict the stories of young people, rather than the stories about them.”
The production seeks to amplify the voices of a growing youth climate movement which is often dismissed by politicians and media personalities.
“We don’t really know why they refuse to listen to us, but we know that unless people listen, things are going to end very badly for all of us” said Izzy.
The show’s greatest success, however, could be in its depiction – portraying serious subject matter through humour, wit and warmth, and ultimately instilling hope in the next generation.
“This play effectively portrays the unique determination, awareness and bravery of this generation to not only speak up, but continue speaking” Leila said.
“When they won’t listen, we’ll yell.”
Very Happy Children with Bright and Wonderful Futures runs from Friday March 19 – Saturday April 3 at The Launch Pad, Tuggerah.
Tickets at jopuka.org.au