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Our Sustainability Journey
Here at RABBLE Theatre we are committed to understanding and reducing the environmental impact of our work, embedding sustainability into the heart of our practice.
Entry 2 – Henry I Sustainability Journey
The entire theatre Industry is having to make significant changes to the way that it works, but it’s helpful to remind ourselves that we aren’t alone. We are part of a worldwide community, eager to move away from practices that we have grown accustomed to in order to respond to our changing climate and uphold our duty to be environmentally responsible.
So as to not feel completely overwhelmed, we are focusing on key areas within each of our departments, including;
- Design Sustainability – we want to think not only about what existing materials we can use, but also about where everything ends up once the show is over. Our design will allow us to reuse or recycle most of the scenic pieces and we will be detailing this further in the next post.
- Costume – Let’s see how we can repurpose and reuse materials without sacrificing the original design ideas. A challenge for Sarah and Evelien in itself.
- Stage Management Practices – Whilst Stage Management does not contribute as much waste as other departments, we can still hold ourselves accountable and it should come as no surprise that paper waste sits at the top of our list. We are notorious for having a hard copy of everything, from daily schedules to props lists & contact sheets and when an update is made, new copies are printed and distributed. How can we digitise our way of working? Digital SM practices are a hot topic of conversation – I know I’d prefer a hard prompt copy for the script than relying on a digital script to call a show… but times are changing. We are looking at digital resources in the rehearsal room, such as StageWrite, and encouraging the SM team to ensure that they’re looking at the agreed, final version of a doc on the google-drive, before printing!
- Transport – Transport remains one of the largest emitting sectors of greenhouse gases and audience travel is, for most cultural organisations, the largest single source of carbon emissions. To that end, we’ll be asking every audience member how you got to the show and supplying details of the various methods of getting to us.
All vehicle mileage associated with the production will be tracked and recorded and company members are being encouraged to use public transportation wherever possible.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, more just to give you an indication, but across the big picture we have an opportunity for creative discussions that we hope will lead us to tangible solutions for reducing our environmental impact.
The list of challenges when viewed through the sustainability lens is endless. Carbon emissions are currently a significant side effect at every stage of producing theatre and any production can still leave a significant environmental footprint. Our aim for Henry I is to understand where we are, what we can do now and how we can work towards an impact of zero beyond Henry I.
Let’s all work towards a more eco-conscious existence.
Rebecca Welburn, RABBLE Company Stage Manager
Entry 1 – Henry I Sustainability Journey
It’s something that we’re passionate about as individuals and as an organisation, we have always tried to do our best, but perhaps we’ve not been rigorous enough. In 2023, the year that we staged the biggest production we’ve ever worked on – Henry I – we are setting far greater expectations.
It’s going to be really hard, but we have to aim high and we also have to involve you, for you are an integral part of the sustainability puzzle, whether you’re a member of the audience, a freelancer, a volunteer, a participant, a school involved in the Finding Reading Festival, a venue we hire, one of the 57 partners, or anyone else in our community. Everyone involved is contributing to the environmental impact of Henry I and we need to take that more seriously.
So, a bit of industry insight; for Henry I, RABBLE are using the Theatre Green Book: Sustainable Productions, a free resource for anyone to use and access when making theatre. It’s a toolkit of practical guidance created by theatre makers and sustainability experts that supports and encourages theatre companies to move towards working in a more sustainable manner.
Each volume of the Green Book has three standards that companies can work towards: Baseline, Intermediate and Advanced. Before rehearsals even begin, it was important for us as a company to identify which standard we would be working towards. For Henry I, we have agreed on the Baseline Standard which includes, among other things;
- 50% of materials used (set, props, costume) should have had a previous life, whether that’s locally, from the region, or even repurposed materials.
- Post Production: 65% of materials are to be reused or recycled, ensuring there is an afterlife and planned disposal of these items.
Alongside our Company Stage Manager, the Production Manager tracks all materials, their planned disposal routes after the production and making sure we are reaching our targets.
As the Theatre Green Book outlines, making work sustainably begins with the concept. It
can’t be an afterthought.
Our hope is to share aspects of our production process with you so that we can create measurable targets to reduce our emissions in the future and pave the way for sustainability conversations throughout Reading.
We’ll send an update out every 2 weeks or so, so please keep an eye on our socials, which will link back to here.
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