Andrew Bovell’s award-winning drama, When the Rain Stops Falling, is pretty new to American audiences, although more and more theatres have been adding it to their seasons. There is, sometimes, a hesitation, a tendency to put off seeing something unknown until it’s been around awhile, but that feeling should be repressed altogether with Rain, for it is a rich theatrical experience, one which could come fully to life only on a stage. It’s a terrific play.
There’s a lot of rain in When the Rain Stops Falling, which takes place between 1959 and 2039. When Bovell takes us well into the future, it’s not a Buck Rogers* kind of future, but one very like our own, except that the world economy seems to have collapsed and the weather has become wetter and more extreme.
The play does not happen in sequence. Its scenes occur in a seeming random order, moving from 2039 to 1988 to 1959 to 2013 and back (and forth) again, and part of Rain‘s enjoyment is figuring out its overall story arc, bringing some sense to its world, seeing how the parts give us one complete dramatic picture.
When the Rain Stops Falling began its development at Brink Productions in Australia, when director Chris Drummond brought together playwright Bovell, artist Hossein Valamanesh, composer Quincy Grant, and, eventually, seven actors who improvised and developed theatrical ideas. Inspired by Tim Flannery’s book The Future Eaters, Drummond and his group investigated the kinds of choices we make—environmentally, politically, and as a society—and what their consequences might be. The process of creating the play took Andrew Bovell almost two years, and the script, which had its origins in discussions about global warming, the U.S. war on terror, and the extremes to which some political groups were moving, became a richly poetic drama about several generations of one family. In his non-sequential arrangement, Bovell’s scenes reveal how the decisions made and the actions taken by one generation continue to influence and form the lives of succeeding generations.
Likewise, the climate in Bovell’s play is based on the one we experience today and the decisions we are making (or avoiding, or denying) about it. The falling rain and its impact on Bovell’s future world act as a counterpoint to the actions of the characters in the drama. This is to say: When the Rain Stops Falling is not a play about climate change, but the changing climate—acknowledged by the characters, used by Bovell—parallels the world and action of the play.
Andrew Bovell has written a complex, compelling, and deeply human drama, one which Time Magazine called “the best play of the year” in its review of the 2010 American premiere at Lincoln Center. It is a deserved accolade, and we’re pleased to present the Indiana premiere of the work and to employ it to further the discussion of the ideas of this year’s Themester.
We open tonight, playing at 7:30 on September 21, 22, 25-28. There’s also a matinee at 2 PM on Saturday, September 29.
I hope you can join us at the theatre. At 7th and Jordan. Here’s more information about the production.
*Buck Rogers: the first science fiction comic strip with space travel, jet packs, and ray guns. (For those of you who are younger than a certain age…)