Kyoto - Climate Drama at RSC's Swan Theatre

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“Kyoto,” a play crafted by playwrights Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, is a riveting dramatization of the events surrounding the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a critical climate agreement aimed at reducing global carbon emissions. Drawing inspiration from a radio show about the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, the play brings to life the intense discussions and debates that shaped this crucial agreement.

Under the expert direction of Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin, “Kyoto” graces the stage of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theater in England. Not only does the play entertain, but it also grapples with the complex and pressing issue of climate change, a subject that resonates deeply with contemporary audiences.

In order to accurately portray the narrative of the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, the playwrights invested considerable time into research. They engaged in meaningful dialogues with diplomats and scientists who were present during the original negotiations, thus gaining a deeper understanding of the events and the stakes involved.

The character of Donald Pearlman, an American lawyer who represented Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the climate negotiations, serves as the narrator of the play. This narrative choice adds a layer of dramatic tension to the story, making the stakes feel higher and the negotiations more gripping.

“Kyoto” is a notable part of the first season for Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey in their roles as joint artistic directors of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The play features the talented Stephen Kunken, a Tony-nominated actor, adding a touch of Broadway magic to the British stage.

The creators of “Kyoto” intentionally designed the play to engage the audience in the decisions surrounding the climate crisis. Audience members seated in the front two rows alternate with actors playing delegates, a decision that adds a dose of realism to the performance.

Running from June 18 to July 13 at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, “Kyoto” offers a truthful representation of the negotiations that led to the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. Through its detailed storytelling and compelling performances, the play “Kyoto” emphasizes the importance of global cooperation in the face of the urgent climate crisis, making it a must-see for anyone interested in both theatre and environmental issues.


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