Published on Thu 23 Oct 2014

What is happening to our climate? What do we know and how do we know it? What could the future look like?

In a year’s time in Paris the governments of the world will meet to decide on action against climate change. The agreements they reach will shape our future, that of our grandchildren and of generations beyond. One of the world’s most influential climate scientists and former Director of the Science Museum, Professor Chris Rapley, considers the science that will guide their discussions.

This dynamic collaboration between Chris Rapley, playwright Duncan Macmillan (Headlong’s 1984, Lungs) and internationally renowned director Katie Mitchell (Ten Billion, Lungs, Wastwater, Waves) addresses what many feel is the most important issue of our time. It aims to present what science can tell us about our climate – past, present and future – and what options lie before us.

The Earth is a hugely complex system, and our knowledge of it contains many gaps, uncertainties and apparent contradictions. A highly emotive issue, climate change needs to be addressed collectively, with mutual respect and humility. Rapley, Macmillan and Mitchell will unwrap this complex and contested issue in a unique piece of theatre.

Writer and director Duncan Macmillan will be working at the Royal Court for the first time with 2071. Most recently, his production of 1984, created with Robert Icke transferred to the West End after runs at the Nottingham Playhouse and Almeida. He has worked with Katie Mitchell on several occasions, including on The Forbidden Zone at Salzburg Festival this summer, which will also be livestreamed at the Barbican, on Lungs at the Schabuehne in Berlin and on Reise durch die Nacht at the Deutsches Schauspiehaus in Hamburg. His play Lungs for Paines Plough won Best Play at the Off West End Awards and the CBS Outstanding Drama Award.

Director Katie Mitchell’s recent credits at the Royal Court include Ten Billion, Simon Stephens’ Wastwater and Martin Crimp’s The City. Her work with Duncan Macmillan includes The Forbidden Zone, Lungs and Reise Durch die Nacht. Other credits include The Trial of Ubu Roi at Hampstead Theatre, After Dido for English National Opera and the Young Vic, and A Woman Killed With Kindness, Pains of Youth, some trace of her, Waves, Three Sisters and The Seagull at the National Theatre. Her production of The Cherry Orchard is currently playing at the Young Vic.

Scientist Chris Rapley CBE is Professor of Climate Science at University College London and Chair of the London Climate Change Partnership. He was director of the Science Museum from 2007 to 2010 and awarded the Edinburgh Science Medal. He was Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme IGBP from 1994-1998, and Director of the British Antarctic Survey from 1998-2007.

The Big Idea: 2071
The Big Idea is a new strand of work at the Royal Court launched during last year’s Open Court festival, offering audiences radical thinking and provocative discussion inspired by the work on stage.

Duncan Macmillan, Katie Mitchell and Chris Rapley in conversation
Tuesday 11 November, post-show
Jerwood Theatre Downstairs

Day of Action
Saturday 15 November
Join climatologists, environmentalists and other experts offering up practical advice on how we might fight climate change, including a discussion on the role of artists in fighting climate change.

Royal Court: Hamburg
2071 by Duncan Macmillan and Chris Rapley, directed by Katie Mitchell will play at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg for six performances.
17-18 December 2014; 8-9 January 2015; 18-19 February 2015


Tickets £32, £22, £16, £12
Mondays all seats £10
Concessions £5 off top two prices (available in advance until 8 November, and all matinees. For all other performances, available on a standby basis on the day)
25s and under £12 (limited availability)
School and HE
Groups of 6+ 50% off top two prices (available Wed -Sat matinee, plus midweek matinees)
Access £12 (plus a companion at the same rate) *ID required.

All discounts subject to availability.

Coutts is the Royal Court Theatre Innovation Partner

Coutts is the wealth division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Coutts has a long history of supporting the arts going back 200 years, having looked after the financial affairs of many famous clients connected with the arts such as Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens and Chopin. In 1816, Thomas Coutts married Harriot Mellon, a popular actress of her day, and together they became partners of a number of London Theatres, including the Drury Lane and the Royal Opera House. Coutts has even featured in a number of artistic works including The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In the new millennium, this tradition has continued not only through Coutts managing the finances of many of today’s top writers, actors and musicians, but also through our arts sponsorship programme. We are delighted to support The Royal Court and it’s diverse range of ground-breaking performances. For further information please visit

The Big Idea is sponsored by AlixPartners.
The Royal Court offer radical thinkers and provocative voices a home, wherever they come from. The Big Idea series brings this to life by engaging the public in debate and discussion about civic, political, domestic and international issues. As a leading global business advisory firm of results-oriented professionals who specialise in creating value and enhancing performance, we share in this conviction to challenge pre-conceived standards and generate new ideas. AlixPartners is delighted to support the Royal Court in this exciting new programme.