As the ‘Fringe of the Fringe’, Forest Fringe Festival, came to a close on August 17th, the activist performance group intermingled music with a ‘sermon’ on reduced consumerism, pro-environmental behaviour and the plight of the threatened honey bee population.
‘Deforestation plus poisoned pollination/ time greedy escalation equals planet devastation’
Reverend Billy, as the Elvis-comparable, evangelistic preacher, leads the audience-congregation within the affirmative traditions of revival meetings, and frequently throughout the audience participated when desired, with the religiously-themed commitments of ‘amen’, ‘awoman’ and ‘praise-bee’. In appropriating this religious style to communicate issues of sustainability, Reverend Billy appeals for the faith and commitment associated with traditional preaching, and mobilises a community: “the Church of Stop Shopping”, regardless of alternative religious beliefs. Programmes are referred to as the ‘Order of Service’ and feature ‘sermons’ on affecting the capitalist system.
Although the Forest Fringe performance displayed a temporarily reduced choir from the New York-based 50-strong grouping, the well-established collective showcased a variety of songs, written by the members, some of which originated for the Occupy movements of 2012. This activist sentiment rings clear throughout the performance, although the focus is shifted to the protection of the honey bee population: natural pollinators which support agriculture and biodiversity. The audience ‘learnt the truth’ about the unique behavioural habits of honeybees and their place in food chain. In the style of the choir too, each element of the environmentalist call-to-action was characterised in Christian doctrine: Monsanto, the agribusiness corporation much-criticised for its pesticide policies was demonised as the ‘Devil’, and blamed for the demise of the bee species.
Most remarkable about this production was the sheer enthusiasm: the energy and passion of the performers were at times almost unbelievable, and this was echoed by the audience, who drove a spontaneous encore and a standing ovation. Fuelled by such revival meetings, the congregation of Reverend Billy will inevitably keep on growing.
Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir performed “Honeybeelujah!” as part of the Forest Fringe 16 & 17 August 2014 at Out of the Blue Drill Hall, a Green Arts Venue. More information about the performance can be found here.
Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.
In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.
We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.
Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:
Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.
Powered by WPeMatico