BOY: Would you rather know how you’re going to die or when you’re going to die ? GIRL: But if you knew how it was going to happen / BOY: Like if you knew you were going to drown, you would probably stop swimming and going out in the rain. But then you might drown just drinking a glass of water
On a peatland plain on the edge of an island, two 12 year olds meet to bury a cat in its preserving earth. As they sit and dig the boggy grave, what follows is a conversation about life, fate, extinction, migration, mortality.
Peat began as an exploration of the Great Irish Elk. On the east coast, right on the edge of Ireland, there is a place known as The Elk Graveyard. Here hundreds and hundreds of ancient elk skeletons were dug from the bog. Megaloceros Giganteus. Giant Irish Deer. The last megafauna on an island of, well, non–megafauna.
Twelve feet tall from tip of toe to top of antler, it disappeared about 10,500 years ago, the reasons uncertain: it became too big; its antlers grew too heavy; it was over-hunted; its food sources disappeared as the world grew colder. The Great Irish Elk lived across Europe and Asia, its continental cousins drifting eastward, sunward, in search of a better life. As the Ice Age descended, the ones who lived on this island were the first to disappear. Trapped, with nowhere to go as the snow stopped melting.
Peat is a performance text for young audiences aged 10+. Development continues in 2017.
Written by Kate Heffernan. Supported by the Arts Council’s Young People Children and Education Bursary. Development in 2016 was supported by The Ark A Cultural Centre for Children. With the support of Theatre for Young Audiences Ireland and Culture Ireland, a work-in-progress showing was presented at On the Edge Birmingham, the World Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences (directed by Maisie Lee, performed by Lloyd Cooney and Nyree Yergainharsian)