Rehearsal in progress, Oct. 8, 2021. Photo: Bridgite Perron.
(Image description: 11 youth sit on the floor, surrounded by stools, with director Kristina reading off the script).

What happens when you’re told there’s 12 years and it’s the 11th hour? Theatre through the hearts of youth, 12 is an urgent love story between generations and towards the planet we share.

12 is an original theatre creation that gives voice to youth regarding the climate crisis and the future they have inherited. It is a playful invitation to stop, listen, and to consider what it actually means to take action, together, now. 12 is theatre for all ages but –by necessity– performed by youth. Grounded in hope & determination, it voices their confusion with inaction of leaders, corporations, and with their elders. The script is built from writings/conversations with 11 teens, interviews they had with citizens of Canada (all ages), transcript from the international meeting, COP24 in Poland, and words of global youth activists such as Autumn Peltier, Boyan Slat, Greta Thunberg, Xuihtezcat Martinez and the Australian high school students who were told by their PM to be “less activist.”

Performances this November 2021 will coincide with COP26 in Glasgow, 3 years after the promises of COP24 2018.

Project history

Shared by Kristina Watt Villegas

Sept 2018 – May 2019

In September 2018, I met 11 young teens (age 13-17). Our goal was to create a piece of devised theatre together. I told them it had to come from the biggest need/hope/ache that they’re currently living. After some writing and physical theatre exploration exercises, they revealed that they are “scared, lost, and confused” with regards to their future on this planet. And that they feel that it is up to them to “build the magic eraser”. [Script episode 8 includes some of this content]. We decided to build a theatrical event that playfully captures what they’re questioning and what they are urgently seeking. We worked two hours/week for 38 weeks. In addition to researching, building the text, creating the staging and rehearsing, this time included our trip to the Anthropocene exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada in Feb 2018. They documented what they learned, and the visceral impact it had on them. [episode 10 contains some of that content]. By the end of May we needed a public to try out what we had built.

June 2019

We had two public presentations by invitation only to “test drive” the project. One, June 8, was in-house in the space we had rehearsed in, and one was on June 15th in a LabO Studio 2201 (with thanks to permission from Fringe and the artists in 2201). The response to both was extremely positive. We committed to taking the project forward. 

Sept – Jan 2019

We get back in the studio and refine, question and polish what we have, both the script and the staging. We will find opportunities for performances in public spaces around Ottawa, such as at City Hall, on Parliament Hill on one of the “Fridays for Future”, and within the National Art Gallery. Specifics available upon request. This fall into early winter is when COP25 happens in Chile. It also the time when CCTA (Climate Change Theatre Action) is happening across North America. These both make the timing ripe to share 12 across Ottawa.

Production Path of 12

Characters in the “Chatoom” 12 2019 (Photo: Catherine Robson) [Image Description: 4 youth sit on stools and type on imaginary keyboard. They wear casual clothing in bright colors]

June 11 2019 Carleton-Dominion Chalmers Studio: Invited Audience

June 17 2019 LabO Studio: Public Presentation

Nov 20 2019 OPENING: United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of Youth, Writer’s Festival Event; audience of 700

Jan 25 2020 Great Canadian Theatre Co Studio (donations for aid to evacuated families due to the Australian Wildfires)

Feb 20 2020 Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), to a board room full of employees

POSTPONED due to the global pandemic:

Mar 29 2020 Southminster United Church, part of the church’s commitment to a “Green Lent” 

May 9 Conflux Canada Conference at the Shaw Centre; one of the nation’s largest sustainability conferences

WHILE WE WAIT,  June of 2020: the 12 team create their digital/video response to a global pandemic, their voice-as-theatre on hold, and how to take action when an ongoing climate crisis coincides with a global health crisis.

Nov 19-21 2021 Ottawa Children’s Festival

May 2023 12 will perform as part of the Great Canadian Theatre Company‘s season, Ottawa!