Tips for sustainable a production from ground up

Lauren McCrostie

1. Build and choose a team who are committed and believe in executing a great, green production.

Having a committed team behind your company, who all follow a similar belief when it comes to sustainability, is enormously helpful in presenting a play and showcasing the importance of helping our climate.

2. Make it a part of your story

If you really are passionate about spreading the green message then perhaps devise a piece promoting and encouraging ethical and environmentally friendly. If your play is on another topic, why not make it part of your story as a theatre company. Let your audiences know what you're doing to make your show greener and why.

3. Use paper resourcefully

Think about scripts, printing and your general paper usage throughout the creative process and rehearsals. Set yourself goals like reducing your print run when you flyer or only using scrap pieces of paper in rehearsals.

4. Rehearse locally

Be resourceful with your choices. Try and find a space in equidistant distance from each member of the company, so to reduce travel expenditure and carbon emissions produced. If your viable options are far away, try and choose one that is accessible by public transport.

5. Think about rehearsals process

The devising process is in its nature an exploratory and experimental process. However, it is key to be mindful. Think about your waste from your paper to props to food and drink during your days practise sessions. Can you take turns to make lunch for the team to avoid plastic packaging at lunch and reduce costs? Can your cast pledge to bring a reusable water bottle?

6. Choose a green performance space

When you go to pick your venue to perform your work at, consider opting for a one which carries out sustainable methods. Do they use a renewable energy supplier? Do they have an environmental policy? Do they accept keep cups? Is their lighting set up as green as possible? Do they offer reusable sets/costumes? What is their waste/rubbish policy likely? If they consider the environment in their practice then they will be much more inclined to accommodate your values!

7. If they're not green... ask them why

Of course, choice may not be available to all productions and company. Indeed, theatre is a competitive and costly business, so you may not have the luxury of choosing the ‘greenest’ site. If so, try and do a ‘recce’ of the venue before your run. This will enable you to get a ‘low down’ on its capability and general running (with its bins, lights, space…travel...). Send your venue an email with these five questions. Your questions could be the beginning of a venue's sustainability journey or the final nudge they need.

8. Advertising

Spreading the message about your show is of course incredibly important and shouldn’t be lost in the run. Lots of companies now have a whole team of people in charge of marketing and getting your show seen and known by people. Although much of this is done through reviews and on social media platforms, it's hard to avoid flyer waste at festivals like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Try thinking of inventive ways around this! An option is to invest in a stamp with your logo on it (including your performance title, venue and time) to mark the hands/arms/legs/diarys/faces of people who pass you by. Check out our green flyering tips.

9. Maintaining show

It's likely that during the run of a show you are going to have to replenish your ‘stock’. Whether that be through washing costumes, or replacing disposable or even broken props. Be resourceful with this and plan beforehand. For example if a character eats a packet of crisps in a scene, use the same one each time and just ‘refill it’ from a bigger, larger packet with the amount of crisps they need. Can you invest in more expensive props and costume that will last for a whole tour, rather than repeatedly having to replace a cheaper option?

10. Leave your audience with message

At the end of your performance, when you’re doing your bows, saying your thanks and are getting standing ovation after standing ovation…chime into the fact that you have made the show through conscientious means. Remind them that it is possible to create a green production and execute sustainable intent within every aspect of your work and life! Remind them of the importance!

11. Lastly…taking down your show

Just because you are done and may have wrapped your run does not mean you need to stop being green! Take down your show and pack it away as carefully and sustainably as you created it. Dispose of sets, costumes, props wisely and correctly. Restore anything broken, return anything lent, donate items that you won’t but others can use again. AND when you’ve rested well (!) reflect on what hurdles you faced which you can overcome for your next show!

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