Brad Sutherland on Just Stop Extinction Rebellion

Brad Sutherland’s new play Just Stop Extinction Rebellion is a romantic comedy about finding hope when facing extinction. Directed by Kenneth Michaels, the play also raises questions about the tactics employed by climate activist groups, while also allowing the activists to justify the necessity of such tactics.

The cast features Louise Bangay, James Price, Orsolya Nagy, Stephen Riddle and Hilary Fieldwith set design by Samantha Parry. As the company prepared for the opening at White Bear Theatre, where the production plays from 30 January until 10 February, we caught up with Sutherland to find out more about how he came to write the Just Stop Extinction Rebellion and his playwriting process.

Q&A with Brad Sutherland

What can you tell us about the inspiration for Just Stop Extinction Rebellion?

I wouldn’t say there was a specific inspirational moment for Just Stop Extinction Rebellion. I am however, like many, concerned about the climate and find the tactics of climate activists very interesting. I am also very interested in the role of companionship rather than physical attraction in relationships, and so I wanted to explore that in a romantic comedy setting.

How much has the play changed from your original vision for it?

The original play was a short play solely about the awkward romance between the two lead characters. The climate activist group and the other members initially played a much smaller role, however I decided that climate activists and climate activism are both extremely interesting topics to people, and so I decided to expand the play.

Promotional image for Just Stop Extinction Rebellion

You’re broaching serious themes through comedy – how have you managed to balance the serious and comic in the play?

A play that revolves solely around comedy can quickly become tiresome for an audience. A good story is crucial to keep an audience entertained, so I build the story and use comedy just to enhance the plot and the characters.

What is it like to be opening the play at White Bear Theatre?

It’s great to be back at White Bear Theatre. It’s a great space, the artistic director, Michael Kingsbury, is great to work with and it’s not only a lovely pub and restaurant but it’s right beside a tube station (Kennington).

What do you hope audiences take away from the play?

I am not a playwright that believes in delivering a message to his audience. If I am writing about a serious topic, such as climate activism, then I try and present a very balanced play and let the audience make up their own mind on any issues. What I do want the audience to feel though is that the characters and story not only entertain them but move them in some way. I always try and uncover the stories of everyday lives that are hidden away. I hope the audience take away a little more understanding and sympathy for those different from themselves, as well as hope for the future.

Just Stop Extinction Rebellion is at White Bear Theatre from 30 January to 10 February