Moira Finucane Stages The Rapture to Address Climate Change

Moira Finucane in The Rapture
Moira Finucane in The Rapture Jodie Hutchinson
A cruciform stage is enveloped in an eerie cloud of mist. Ethereal streams of light peek out beneath undulating furls of smoke. A nearly 6-foot-tall woman emerges, black beads dripping down her naked body, with a gigantic black cape that threatens to swallow her. As industrial music blasts, the shroud sprouts feathers and becomes a pair of sharp black wings. The woman begins to howl, warning the audience about the end of the earth as we know it.

The woman is Melbourne-based Moira Finucane, the writer, performer, and creator of The Rapture, which will be performed in its United States premiere at Climakaze Miami 2017. In its third year, Climakaze is a three-day event exploring the relationship between climate change and the arts. In addition to Finucane’s performance, Climakaze will feature a concert from singer-songwriter Inez Barlatier and two days of eco-theater labs.

Finucane is one-half of Australian theater company Finucane & Smith, known for creating “beyond genre” cabaret, theater, and variety performances, which they call “salons of humanity.” Finucane describes her one woman show, The Rapture, as a “mash up of gothic, erotic, rock and roll, intense literary poetry… It’s like a dream.” The 70-minute performance is both funny and dark, telling a dynamic set of stories that forces Finucane to morph her body and her demeanor from character to character. “It’s like if you open up a book of ghost stories. I’m constantly morphing like a snake shedding her skin, from male to female, from young to incredibly old, from beautiful to hideous,” she says.

Finucane wasn’t always an avant-garde performer. Growing up, she was fascinated by the natural world and pored over fairy tales and the stories of saints. She studied environmental science, worked first in environmental law, then later in human rights in international gender and development. In the nineties, she began performing in Australia’s underground club scene. Finucane explains, “All of those concerns underpin the performance. My performance treasures humanity and the exquisite treasures of the world.”

Finucane says her work has an impact on agency, which provokes and compels people into taking action about critical issues. “When people think about climate change, it's easy to feel paralyzed, that it’s too late, or too big…Each one of us has the absolute right to talk about what is concerning us,” says Finucane.

The title of the work, The Rapture, refers to the idea of being transported to another place. Finucane says that art transports people and empowers them to take action. “Art has the power to take us out of the every day and into the epic. When you exist in the world of fairy tales, symbols, and stories, you may be… provoked into things you might be.”

Finucane’s background in environmental science informs her work. She sees climate change as symptomatic of other pressing human concerns. For Finucane and many others, climate change is not an isolated problem, and the killing of ecosystems can be compared to the death of culture when oppression and discrimination become the norm. The earth, humanity, and the actions and reactions of all are part of the dynamic fabric of the planet’s existence.

She emphasizes the role of responsibility for governments and corporations in the solution for climate change. “In order to have a planet that our children and grandchildren can live in with joy and happiness, there needs to be immense government intervention in the destruction of the environment for profit,” she says.

Given that Miami has been deemed ground zero for climate change, Finucane is aware and excited to share her work with the South Florida community. “Miami is well famous for being a melting pot of culture and ideas. This festival will be part of that urgent, vibrant, cultural discussion,” she says. “Miami is a place for firing ideas around… Climakaze is plugging critical issues into the main and turning on the switch. Whatever people take away from it, there’s electricity.”

The Rapture
Part of Climakaze 2017. 8:30 p.m. Friday, May 5, at Mid-Stage at Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami. Tickets cost $20 to $40 via Visit
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Minhae Shim Roth is an essayist, journalist, and academic.
Contact: Minhae Shim Roth