But there's a catch...

giovanni calia ezvIERAtqZc unsplashKiersten Leslie fondly remembers her visit to Helsinki in 2016 when she met several Finn-Brit types as well as some members of the cast and crew of Strange Season. She particularly enjoyed the delightful rambles in the wilds of Nuuksio.

In Strange Season, Kiersten has the role of Melinda, who accepts a romantic invitation from an old flame, Art, to join him for a getaway to sunny Spain. On arrival, Art whisks her off to a reception at the Madrid climate talks, which are grinding to a halt due to international infighting and a plot by the fossil fuel industry's venture capitalists to scuttle the whole thing.

Art seems eager to marry her at last and dump his rich wife. There are two catches in the way of their living happily ever after on the ranch Art wants to acquire in California. The first is that Melinda has gotten herself accidentally pregnant and is worried Art will change his mind if he notices her blissful state before telling the wife she is being dumped.

The other catch is that Art has joined the plot of the venture capitalists to scuttle the climate talks which will allow him to do a billion dollar coal deal to finance their getaway plan to California. Melinda's dilemma is compounded when she meets Louise, whose family lives near a toxic oilfield. Then there is the old geophysicist, Peter, who shows her pictures of Greenland in meltdown. These encounters are a real downer for her and her dreams of a romantic escape with Art.

Then there are all those bills unpaid and the baby on the way. She decides to flee the scene and collect her thoughts. Only to find herself at a bullfight. Art enters suddenly, with a bull in hot pursuit....

MelindaText: Kiersten Leslie
Photo (bullfight): Giovanni Calia on Unsplash

Kiersten hails from New Zealand, but is currently working at a theater near Birmingham in the UK. At university she majored in sciences, but then moved on to theater and acting. The call is irresistable when it comes, as every true thespian knows.

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Oiling Palms

Ambassador GeorgeAmbassador George (played by John Koroma) spends his weekdays sitting in conferences while daydreaming of past fishing trips with Joe Biden or the Saudi princes.

He has been going to international climate conferences for years and the climate has been getting worse and worse all the time. Nowadays he has a lot of trouble motivating himself to go to work.

His old buddy Smith (Erik Riekko), from younger days when both were running around the oilfields searching for their fortunes, notices George's disillusionment.

Smith, now a high flying venture capitalist, hatches a plan to offer his old buddy an escape plan from the staid civil service world by bringing George into his grand scheme to make a killing on a coal and oil play. This requires oiling the palms of just enough government people to make the Madrid climate talks fail.

George has just the contacts he needs, so Smith corners his old buddy at a casino blackjack table. George's losses grow as fast as Smith's chips pile up.

George sees through Smith's bigger scheme and cashes out. He tells Smith off before he leaves, but doubts Smith will relent in his design to torpedo the climate talks. Little does he suspect that Melinda (Kiersten Leslie), the young woman with the drug problems he picked up in the rain outside the flamenco club, might be able to suceed where he couldn't.

Text: John Koroma

When he is not fishing or coaching Helsinki's youth in the secrets of football stardom, John Koroma is translating from French or making a name for himself as an afrocusine whiz. His interest in theater harks back to his school days in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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Opposing Forces

dominik vanyi Mk2ls9UBO2E unsplashStrange Season is a play written by Ahti Tolvanen, who attended the UN’s COP25 Climate Summit in Madrid in December 2019. The characters are fictional, but the story is based on what actually happened two years ago in Spain.

My character, Art, is one of those attempting to obstruct Summit proceedings for their own personal gain. Art’s goal is to prevent actions being taken by conference delegates against the coal industry. If he succeeds, he will be richly rewarded by sponsors of a coal mining project on land occupied by First Nations people in a Canadian province. First Nations folks are easy targets, because they don’t have much political power and their protests are frequently ignored.

The play is a good illustration of opposing forces at work in debates about climate change. On the one hand, climate activists paint a grim portrait of what is likely to happen if strong measures are not taken to significantly reduce carbon emissions. Pulling in the other direction are corporations and individuals who stand to gain from business as usual.   

Aside from the climate and political issues, a little intrigue is added to the story when it becomes apparent that Art, who is married to a wealthy oil industry investor, has invited Melinda, a former working colleague, to join him in Madrid for a romantic interlude. What if his wife finds out about Art’s little tryst?"

Text: David Rogers
Photo: Dominik Vanyi on Unsplash

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Climate creep

Woman overlookingAre you a victim of "climate creep"? That means whatever interaction you are trying to have with someone on matters trivial or serious somehow turns into a discussion on the climate crises? As covid subsides, it seems to be getting worse and worse. Melanie was looking forward to a romantic holiday in Spain with her secret lover and suddenly found herself surrounded by climate experts and denialists in heated debate about the near collapse of the Madrid climate talks.

What a holiday downer! What is going on here anyway? Why don't people stop bickering and start solving the problem? We have all the needed technology, but things just keep getting worse and worse. What with wildfires, hurricanes, glaciers crashing on polar bears, and deadly ticks invading the parks.

Her secret friend Art just seems to be obsessed with making a multimillion coal sale and buying a romantic love-nest mansion in California. Isn't that where all the wildfires are? He doesn't seem to get it.

Why aren't people listening to her newfound aboriginal friend or the amiable professor, Peter, who seem to know the real scoop? Pols like George go from one conference to another saying "we'll fix it folks", but they aren't. Finance guys like Smith see through it all and make a percentage on every deal whether they help the crises or not. Usually not.

Melinda decides to bolt from this madhouse of a conference and finds herself at a bullfight. The matador steps into the ring to confront the bull. Followed by Art. She runs for the exit. There doesn't seem to be one! Climate creep closes in on her.

Text: Ahti Tolvanen
Photo: creativecommonsstockphotos

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