CALL ME CO-PLAINTIFF* (2018)

MINIATURE OPERA

by Evita Rigert, Annamaria Merkel, Ryan Eykholt and Chris Harris

 

FILM CAMPAIGNE 2018

Director of Photography: Emilia Tapprest

Costume and Make-up: Evita Rigert

Model: Anna Maria Merkel

 

CONCEPT

Call me co-plaintiff* is an operatic miniature inspired by Theodor Storm’s old German literary fairy  tale; die Regentrude (1863). The narrative is a homage to a mythological figure; the deity of all springs. The Libretto emerged through synthesizing the story with an ancient Anglo-Saxon medical text of a healing remedy called Lacnunga.

 

COLLABORATION

Shadow campaign for Milieudefensie`s lawsuit against Royal Dutch SHELL.

 

*  Register as a co-plaintiff against Shell via klimaatzaakshell.nl.


ABSTRACT AND CONCEPT

Performance at the Dutch National Opera and Ballet in Amsterdam

 

The concept grew out of an investigation concerning a current lawsuit, set into motion by the independent environmental organisation Milieudefensie, against the Dutch fuelling company Shell for opposing the terms of the Paris Agreement.1 However the court case will proceed, the performance reflects on either outcome – radical change must be initiated within the individual. This transformation occurs beyond time, beyond place. Lead by industrial and spiritual musicality, the character on stage moves from unconscious- to consciousness, willing to accept their liability to bear damage that has been done. If the absence of responsibility is a collective traumatic event, could a sense of environmental stewardship turn apathy into action? In order for this transition, one must first awaken to face the accountability we have as individuals to initiate change.

CONTEXT

Annamaria, Evita, and Ryan met with Bruno Lauteslager, Youth Organizer at Milieudefensie, to learn more about the lawsuit against Shell. Sitting in the sunshine outside of the Milieudefensie office, Bruno began to explain how Shell stands in the way of change. Shell has the solution, but they are not doing anything about it. Significant focus in our current moment places the onus on the individual to stop climate change through more ethical consumption. Yet, Bruno’s utopia looks like this: a world where friends and family don’t have to worry so much about what they’re buying, a world where governmental regulations are forcing the big polluters to make the big change. Winning the legal action against Shell is a hopeful first step into this utopia.

We learned how Bruno and his coworkers often share the positivity of Milieudefensie’s mission, focusing more on the hopefulness of being part of groups and not being alone with your emotions about climate change or being consumed by guilt. Still, is there a lingering tension from working in environmental activism while knowing you eat meat or commute by train instead of bike every day? Is an institution a collection of individuals at the end of the day, each of whom have their own responsibility in the big change? Following the call to diagnose a collective trauma, our artistic direction leaned into these questions about the communication of responsibility, seeking a third space between positivity and negativity, as well as between the individual and the institution.

MILIEUDEFENSIE AMSTERDAM

Performance at the Dutch National Opera and Ballet in Amsterdam

 

Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) is the institution of focus for the project Call Me Co-Plaintiff*. This Amsterdam-based environmental organization produces climate research and advocacy for more sustainable policies in the areas of energy, globalization, transportation, landscape, agriculture, and food. Their structure consists of paid staff, a youth division Jongeren Milieu Actief, 55,000 members, 33,000 donors, and 2,000 active volunteers. Through localized engagement campaigns that mobilize community efforts, Milieudefensie aims to improve political efficacy with an approach of positivity. It is Milieudefensie’s position that everyone is doing their best to fight against climate change, and it is up to corporate and political powers to take more responsibility for the harm they induce toward the planet.