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Theatre of Climate Action: Amplifying Youth Voices for Climate Justice in Guadeloupe and South Africa

Research Collaboratory

Theatre of Climate Action: Amplifying Youth Voices for Climate Justice in Guadeloupe and South Africa


Young people make up a fifth of the world’s population (United Nations, 2019), and are disproportionately experiencing the worst consequences of the climate crisis. Climate burdens are the heaviest for those who have contributed the least historical emissions – particularly across Africa and the Caribbean and is a matter of both intergenerational and racial/imperial injustice. In this context, young people of Global Majority communities are exercising collective agency and resisting oppressive systems to envision and enact just and equitable futures. Our participatory project contributes to this work of radical imagination by bringing together an interdisciplinary team of researchers, creative practitioners, and young people to create youth-led theatre performances on climate justice in South Africa and Guadeloupe. The participatory project will be guided by a politics of feminist racial justice which centres on marginalised ways of knowing (artistic, youth-led) and spaces (Africa and the Caribbean) to respond to issues of inequity (climate injustice).

Sixteen young people aged 18-25 from South Africa and Guadeloupe will collaborate in designing, producing, and performing theatre pieces that reflect their exploration of climate justice through lived experiences. The project fosters knowledge exchange between the two groups in Guadeloupe and South Africa, enabling them to learn from each other’s experiences of climate injustice. The project takes a politicised approach to the theme of youth-led climate justice education. It promotes youth-led learning processes, driven by commitments to climate and feminist racial justice. It explores the ethical, political, and economic aspects of the climate crisis, and uses creative methods to do so.

Dr Alude Mahali-Bhengu

is a Chief Research Specialist in the Equitable Education and Economies programme at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa. With a background in the Arts, she has worked mainly on Higher Education issues over the last 10 years. Alude’s research focuses on youth social justice work using innovative visual and participatory methodologies. Her most recent publications look at youth activism and navigational capacities. In 2018, Alude was recognized as one of Mail and Guardian’s 200 inspiring young South Africans. She is former editor of the South African Theatre Journal and is currently honorary lecturer in the School of Arts at the University of KwaZulu Natal.

Pak’o Major

The Guadeloupean artist Pak’o Major is a musician, composer, author, director and actor. As a musician and composer, he has been interested in percussion since childhood and began his musical career as a drummer in 2000. Pak’o joined in the same year the national Gospel organisation and started to perform on bigger stages such as the Zenith of Paris or Paris Bercy. In 2004, he toured Europe as the drummer of R&B singer Singuila, under the label Secteur Ä. He composes for credits for shows such as F comme FEMME by Steve and Stéphanie James, or film soundtracks such as Le Pays à L’envers by Sylvaine Dampierre. Also an amateur director, he writes scripts for video clips of Guadeloupean artists and participates in the production of some of them, as well as in the recording of albums and singles in studio. In 2007, he directed his first screenplay Gal Sexy for the music video Hip Hop Creole of the singer Edynio. Since 2016, he has been directing the video for his own label All-Tchoon Music, a title that pays tribute to Guadeloupe. In 2018, he directed R.E.A.C.H., a 20-minute documentary about his Jamaican life. Today, Pak’o continues to be involved in the writing process by composing the screenplay for The Network.

Dena Arya

Community Engager and Coach, Youth Advocate and Independent Researchers

Dena’s academic, vocational and voluntary experiences bring a unique mix of skills and understandings to the area of youth research. Having worked for fifteen years in the youth and community sector in the UK, her research interests in youth political participation stem from the early days of the financial crisis. In her practice with young people, she has witnessed the developing socio-economic pressure they face and how they navigate this. Further, her interest in intersectional climate justice stems from her own experiences of activism which have resulted in projects with NGOs internationally including Care 4 Calais, and People and Water. Her research interests include intersectionality, the political economy of youth, political participation and climate activism. She teaches undergraduate modules in Social Policy, Politics, Research Methods, Youth Subcultures and Youth Justice as well as continuing research in the area of young people’s climate activism. Dena is also a youth coach and works with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to support youth to have a voice in health policy-making.

Lydia Ayame Hiraide

Lydia Ayame Hiraide is a daughter, partner, scholar, and writer who lives and works in the UK. She grew up south of the Thames and now lives in the British countryside, where she enjoys the deep greens of the rolling Chiltern Hills. Lydia Ayame is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Feminist Centre for Racial Justice (FCRJ) at SOAS, University of London. In her current work with the FCRJ, Lydia Ayame his focused on developing an independent research and publications portfolio around transnational approaches to climate change and environmental issues, decoloniality, feminist praxis, and social movements. She is also developing a short film around climate justice in Europe as a Union of Justice Fellow. Lydia Ayame’s PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London received full funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Before becoming a scholar, Lydia Ayame trained as a professional dancer at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Conservatoire for Dance and Drama.