Theatre performance “Lalela Ulwandle” (Listen to the Sea) and a conversation on inclusive ocean governance


7 June


3:00 pm


United Nations Plaza, New York

777 United Nations Plaza, 2nd Floor Conference Room, New York, NY 10017

The One Ocean Hub, Peace Boat, and Blue Planet Alliance are organising a joint side for the United Nations World Ocean Day 2023 featuring a live theatre performance of Lalela Ulwandle (Listen to the Sea).

Lalela uLwandle is a research-based theatre performance and public dialogue event that explores how we may start to build solidarity in climate change adaptation and resilience through environmentally just and equitable, inclusive ocean decision-making processes. Grounded in the South African experience, the inter-generational stories of the sea performed in Lalela uLwandle resonate strongly with an international audience. It was performed at the UN Climate COP27 in Egypt in November 2022 and at the closing events of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture at FAO in Rome in March 2023.

The methodology behind Lalela Ulwandle provides insights into transdisciplinary ocean science and the protection of human rights in the context of the blue economy. Lalela uLwandle has been relied on as evidence in three separate court cases in South Africa, adding to the affidavits of small-scale fishers and ocean defenders, which effectively resulted in halting seismic surveys in South African waters. This is the first time that art and theatre was used as evidence to embody intangible heritage of our ocean in South African courts, leading to a new legal precedent recognising the sacred relationship of the ocean as a realm for Indigenous Peoples’ ancestors.

The performance will be followed with a facilitated public-discussion with researchers, performers, decision-makers and the audience. This post-show dialogue has been used to pilot alternative public forum in South Africa, and provided rich input into ongoing policy, legal, and judicial innovation in ocean decision-making.

Event co-hosts
Dr Dylan McGarry (Director, Empatheatre, Lecturer Rhodes University, South Africa, Project Co-lead, One Ocean Hub)
Prof Elisa Morgera (Director of the One Ocean Hub; Strathclyde University Law School, UK)
Molly Rosaaen, Peace Boat US Youth leader and Blue Planet Alliance Global Ambassador

Empatheatre team
Ms Alison Cassels (Actor, Empatheatre)
Ms Phumelephi Mthombeni (Actor /Director, Empatheatre)
Mr Rory Booth (Actor/Empatheatre)
Mr Neil Coppen (Director, Empatheatre)
Ms Marí Stimie (Production manager, Empatheatre)

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