Don’t call Vancouver playwright Jordan Hall a survivalist. She’s more of a pragmatist. Having tackled global warming in her critically acclaimed and award-winning Kayak, Hall sets her sights on the end-of-days in How to Survive an Apocalypse, set to play the Firehall Arts Centre in June.
“It’s not always about the apocalypse with me, I have done some writing in between,” says Hall with a laugh.
Since writing Kayak, Hall says she saw a resurgence of in the “culture of apocalyptic ideation”.
“Not that we were ever that far from the idea of the end-of-the-world, but it began hitting us all at once,” she says of her inspiration for this latest work. “The ‘prepper’ movement came into its mainstream awareness and those things smashed together with this idea about what it is like to be a young adult grappling with this new world, this new context for maturity.”
Where Hall saw Kayak as a comment on activism and apathy, she sees How to Survive an Apocalypse more about the fall-out from that apathy.
“Instead of going out there and fixing what is wrong, a lot of the current thinking is that society can’t be saved,” she says. “How To Survive tries to deal with that scenario.”
More than a guide on actually surviving a real or imagined end-of-the-world scenario, Hall’s latest work is also a metaphor for the struggles that the current generation are experiencing, especially with Vancouver’s high-cost of living, and ballooning real estate market.
“It is probably unlikely that the poles will reverse or we will be attacked by zombies, but there is a longer, slower progression happening with climate change, and around food security and affordability,” she says. “It may not be the apocalypse, but this is the future that many kids find themselves in today.”
How to Survive an Apocalypse tells the story of a young couple struggling financially who, rather than deal with a decreasing number of opportunities, decide to become ‘preppers’ – the colloquial term given to survivalists actively preparing for a catastrophic disaster – and begin preparations to survive the end-of-the-world.
“They begin to see that the person they married might not be the same person after society collapses,” says Hall, who is quick to point out that despite its doomsday content, How to Survive an Apocalypse is also a comedy.
“The characters are probably a bit more privileged than most and they are going to be made to suffer,” she says. “There is a certain amount of economic privilege with respect to their expectations that is quite funny.”
Not one to take her job lightly as a playwright, Hall does admit that she watched a great deal of reality television around the seemingly growing ‘prepper’ movement. She even went so far as to get out into the wild herself. “I went out and got my hunting license, and went on a hunter training weekend,” she says.
Now, that is dedication to one’s craft.
How to Survive an Apocalypse plays the Firehall Arts Centre (280 East Cordova St, Vancouver) from June 3-11. Visit http://firehallartscentre.ca for tickets and information.