Saturday, September 13, 2008

Theatre & Waste

Theatre Pollution Threat        

So this was the headline that got my attention. It links to The Stage and talks about the pollution that is on the rise at UK theatres. There is also a link to Glyndebourne gaining approval to build a wind turbine to power their theatre.

Ok so there is no way that we will be seeing wind turbines powering theatres in the Distillery District any time soon but it got me to thinking how much waste is generated everytime we do a show.  

The set of The Monument was a beautiful raised disc set on two by four's and covered with a canvas. Since we were downstairs at Berkeley they could just open the load in doors, drop the disposal bin and have at the set with skilsaws and within 30 mintes the whole thing was cut up and gone.  I hated to see that but what else could we do. There is no place to store sets anymore and no one wants the wood.  

With our current shows we are in a slightly better position since 3 of the 4 set pieces for Late are already spoken for and the metal panels can be re-cycled yet we still have the most expensive piece, a kitchen island, that unless we can find a home for it will either have to be stored or have the hardware stripped off it and then throw it out. 

Obsidian has a storage locker full to the brim of props, costumes and old set pieces. I always thought that they were worth keeping since they might be used for future shows but that really doesn't seem to happen. Everything gets built or bought and the old stock just becomes fodder for moths. I am not sure what to do. Yes we can hold sales and see if we can move some of the stuff out but that is a big undertaking if we do it ourselves. I wonder how many other theatres are in the same position and if there are a few then perhaps a group sale might be the way to go. At least it would help amortize the costs of the whole thing and maybe these items could get a new lease on life.

I wish that there was a way to not feel like an ecological Genghis Khan every time we do a show. I would welcome any suggestions. Oh and if you are looking for a kitchen island, yellow formica table with four chairs or a 10 x 8 used only once light grey carpet let me know.


Net Soucy said...

I think there needs to be a set, props & costume co-op/lending library place. A big warehouse where small companies which don't have their own space but which invariably collect props, costumes and set pieces can store their gear and borrow and swap and modify each other's collections as needed.

Obsidian Theatre said...

The solution always comes down to money. I hate that but it's true. We have a 8 x 10 foot space and it costs about $1600 per year. I like the idea of a co-op lending space but I wonder if we could put together enough people to actually share the cost.

Cynthia said...

I'm currently working on setting up a website that will allow theatres to coordinate their shows and schedules so they can give/trade/rent/sell their sets/costumes/drops/etc. after their productions close.

With your permission, I'd gladly post the URL here when it's up and running.

So glad to hear that other folks are thinking the same way I am ;)


p.s. I'm going to post a link to this article on the website as well.

Obsidian Theatre said...

Hey Cynthia,

Of course that would be ok. I'll make sure to link back to you guys.


meganmooney said...

Hmmm. An interesting problem.

In terms of set pieces that you just want to get out of the way without heading into a landfill... I wonder if it would be worth putting a notice up at the shows saying that if someone can come get it on blah day at blah time it's their's free.

Another thought would be to put it on Freecycle. I would put money on someone picking it up from Freecycle. It's such a great place to get stuff out of your space without throwing it out.

And, there's always the Craigslist 'free' section.

I do realise that all of those take time and coordination so may not be realistic, but it's a thought.

Megan Mooney

Cynthia said...

Planning well in advance with a theatre that's going to do a show that could utilize all or some of the set is key.

In my "ideal universe" 2 or 3 (*or more!) theatres would decide to work together months in advance - Maybe even designing a set that is "modular" and/or easily expanded/reduced, knowing where it's going and sharing costs from the beginning.

A lot cheaper to rent a u-haul and send a couple folks on a 1 or 2 day road trip. More time to rehearse on the set as well!