Saturday Feb 04, 2023
#75 Theatre of Energy Activism — David Schwartz
David Schwartz is a theatre director, lecturer and activist. He holds a PhD, wrote and produced plays focused on the impact of energy prices and the shuttering of coal mines in Romania.
This week we have a special guest with David Schwartz. How does the theater fit within the energy transition? As policymakers are discovering society matters. Unfortunately, this is more true in some countries than others. David's focus on Romania deals with economic transitions experienced through the people. His productions highlight the plight of people unable to afford the bare essentials to exist in modern society.
From my experience when I think about the policy making and promises that come from national politicians and even at the EU level, I often think about what is the real impact on the ground for people on the economic margins. David has created plays reflecting these personal and local struggles.
On one hand, David comes across as a radical instigator of performative art. But as you'll hear in part of our conversation, he takes the real experiences of people and presents it through theatrical performances. And what is more true than the real experiences of people or a fictional representation drawn from real experiences?
I think as an academic I often get caught up in the policy or technology aspects of the energy transition, and I don't know or don't see those that suffer in energy poverty.
When we hear about big policies and money to assist vulnerable groups, like that in the EU's Social Climate Fund, which is planned to contain €87 billion, I have my serious doubts about how this money will be distributed. From my conversation with David, you'll also get an impression he likewise holds limited faith in governments to assist citizens.
When I said you'll hear part of our conversation, I have to admit I had a bit of technical difficulty. So I wasn't able to record some of the most essential parts of our conversation. So I both David an apology and you, as a listener for this failure.
But I can certainly attest to David's in-depth knowledge and research skills at collecting and understanding how people experience and suffer from energy bills. The fact that he brings this to the stage demonstrates his skills in capturing social phenomena that we often only read about, and is hard to experience. My profound respects go out to David those working with him to raise this issues in a more engaging format that is usually emotionally detached from reality.
Before we begin, I want to thank Roxana Bucata for putting me in touch with David and all her work in organizing the interviews I did in Romania in November 2022.
A final note, this interview was done for my 2022 role as an Open Society University Network, Senior Fellow at Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs.
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