With his award-winning play Kill Climate Deniers, Finnigan wants to reinvigorate the climate change ‘debate’.
David Finnigan has been announced as the recipient of this year’s Griffin Award for his provocative and timely political satire Kill Climate Deniers. Now in its 20th year, the Award recognises an outstanding play or performance text that demonstrates an authentic, inventive, and contemporary Australian voice, with the winner receiving a $10,000 prize. A writer, theatre-maker and pharmacy assistant from Canberra, Finnigan is a Churchill Fellow and an Australia Council Early Career Fellow.
Finnigan’s winning play Kill Climate Deniers tells the story of a group of eco-terrorists who take the Australian government hostage, threatening their execution unless the environment minister ends global warming by the end of the night. This is the second time in recent history that climate change denialism has been the subject of a Griffin Award winning play, with Stephen Carleton’s The Turquoise Elephant taking out top honours in 2015.
Finnigan’s play attracted the ire of climate change deniers and conservative pundits when it was announced that he had receiving funding from Arts ACT for its development. Among its critics were conservative commentator Andrew Bolt, climate sceptic Don Aitkin, ACT shadow arts minister Brendan Smyth, and widely condemned ultra-conservative US website Breitbart. At the time of their complaints, the play had not yet been seen as it was still in development.
In The Guardian last September, Finnigan explained that the play’s title and topic are “necessary stimulants in the calcified climate change debate”.
“If I see an article with a climate headline, my eyes just slide right off. And I suspect that’s a feature, not a bug, for the organisations who’ve spent a lot of money muddying the water with absurd technical falsehoods. They want us to be bored and to look away.”
“It would probably require a pitched gunfight between the environment minister and a terrorist on the Parliament House flagpole at dawn to make me pay attention again. So I wrote Kill Climate Deniers. Stupid, over-the-top, flashy, ridiculous, fun. And angry, because I am angry”, he said.
Finnigan was announced as the winner of this year’s Award at a special event last night, at which actors Akos Armont, Anna Houston, Chantelle Jamieson, Rebecca Massey and Contessa Treffone read excerpts from the five shortlisted plays. The other four were The Bees Are All Dead by Kit Brookman, Blueberry Play by Ang Collins, Extinction of the Learned Response by Emme Hoy and Good Cook. Friendly. Clean by Brooke Robinson.