4 Min Read

The Best Time to Fix A Crisis is When You’re Not in One: Watch and Act

Each year, throughout summer, our airwaves regularly broadcast emergency bulletins that provide vital warnings and directions to those within bushfire danger zones.

Katie McAllister has been one of the people voicing these updates. She’s used this experience as the base for her new play Watch and Act; a solo performance written and performed by Katie herself. 

“Those warnings and the structure of those warnings were really fresh in my brain. I was thinking about what they can do for people in crisis to make decisions to stay safe, it was a really fascinating structure and mode to me. I really wanted to play with it more and that’s where the show came from.”

Katie McAllister. Photography by Marnie Richardson

A creative writing thesis was the first iteration of the show (and was a casual ten thousand words!), accompanied by an exegesis which contextualised the piece. Katie explained she wanted to examine how approaching such serious issues, like bush fire season, through a comedic lens can form community connection around such intimidating subjects, reducing the feeling of isolation and helplessness.

“I was looking at the ways comedy can collapse the distance between emotional and intellectual responses to climate change. It’s hard to engage with these issues sometimes because they are so scary and so big.”

Katie McAllister. Photography by Duncan Wright

When describing the show, Katie said it’s an amalgamation of the things she loves, like Nigella Lawson and the film Notting Hill. It’s these loves which are used to convey a different way of thinking and feeling about climate change.

“Talking a lot about what it feels like to love something, in a sort of fangirl, respect, admiration way, is what I try and encourage people to do with the climate and environment.

“It’s about making care of place and love for the environment really personal which is something First Nations cultures have been doing much more effectively for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s trying to bring those two things together not in a gimmicky way but trying to look at what it means to really love and care about something.”

Katie McAllister. Photography by Marnie Richardson

Watch and Act is a highly personal piece, with Katie drawing on all aspects of her life, including advice from her own psychologist, which forms an essential part of the show’s messaging.

“One of the best pieces of advice I got is from my psychologist, when it comes to going to get therapy for anxiety and OCD symptoms is, “The best time to fix a crisis is when you’re not in one.”.

“When you’re in a crisis all you can do is survive it and get through it, you don’t make the best choices because you’re just focusing on survival. That’s really true on a personal level and on a climate leadership level. Although we’re in a climate crisis right now, when we’re not seeing black summer fires, things burning down, places flooding or extreme heatwaves, it’s easy to forget we are in a crisis. All of the trigger points and all of the chaos is there whether we can physically see that or not.”

Katie McAllister. Photography by Duncan Wright

Katie said she’s always loved theatre but hadn’t been involved in it for a while, until she had the opportunity to act in the roller derby hit Ugly Virgins which opened at the Blue Room earlier this year. She explained that Ugly Virgins led her towards opportunities to stage Watch and Act.

“That [Ugly Virgins] opened up opportunities to put this work on and work with other creatives who I really admire. The whole team is women who I really respect and now have the chance to work with. It’s been a real joy. The warmth, kindness and how supportive the theatre scene is in WA has really blown me away.”

Watch and act runs from September 28 to October 16 at The Blue Room Theatre.