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  • Writer's pictureVera Mark

All the World’s a Stage…

The Ecotopian's first guest blog: thoughts about a 'greener' theatre, by Jacqueline Teegarden

I recently finished my MA thesis on Environmental Sustainability in Galway Theatre. There are two main reactions when I tell people what my thesis topic was. “Oh. How does theatre and environmental sustainability relate?” or “Great! We need to do more in that area!” While it can be disheartening to hear the first reaction, it’s reaffirming that the second reaction (at least in my experience) is more common. It’s my hope that people will become more and more cognizant of the fact that environmental sustainability should have a major part in every industry and in every part of our individual lives. After all, our futures depend on it.

Shakespeare Frankfurt - where I met Jac a few years ago - is lucky to literally have a
green stage - and we recycle our costumes! Photo by Stephan Junek.

While there is more effort being put into environmental sustainability in theatre now than there was even a few years ago, it’s not nearly enough. It’s difficult to make changes, but it is also necessary. At the moment, it seems as though most companies talk the talk, but are having a harder time walking the walk. This isn’t necessarily because they don’t want to improve on their environmental impact, it’s more because of time, money and resources. A general consensus seems to be that there is not enough information and support available for theatre companies to feel like they can make impactful changes. This is understandable as environmental sustainability can be an overwhelming topic.

From the Bottom(s) Up: Get Everyone Involved

In order for organisations to take environmental sustainability seriously, they should make the topic part of every single meeting they hold. It should be a point of discussion from the very beginning and continue on throughout the entire process of each production. Every single person who is involved in the organisation should be involved in the discussion about environmental sustainability because each individual may have something new to bring to the table. If the people who are “in charge” are the only ones discussing what needs to be done, potential solutions/problems may fall through the cracks. People also tend to find it more empowering when they are involved and their voice is heard, which means environmental sustainability may be more in the forefront of their minds and they may make changes that could have slipped their minds otherwise.

Bottoms, Titania and a Faerie: get everyone involved, from Ass to Queen!

Once everyone has been involved in the initial environmental sustainability discussion, it is important to keep the drive going. This is not a topic that can simply be talked about. Action needs to be taken. A green policy should be developed in which the company states where they are at concerning environmental sustainability, where they want to be and how they plan on getting there. Once this policy has been written, a green team should be formed. This green team should have members in it from each department, not just from “the top”. Again, this will help maintain enthusiasm and keep people coming up with solutions.

While this may not seem like a lot, it will make a difference. Of course, there is much more that can be done. However, creating a green team and ensuring that environmental sustainability has a spot during every meeting is a great way to start and a great way to keep moving forward. Take action where you can.

Jacqueline is an actor currently residing in Galway, Ireland where she recently finished her MA in Theatre Practice and Production at NUIG. She has always had a love for nature and theatre and plans on combining these passions as she moves forward in life.

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