How does sustainability affect design? Throughout the grant, I have always been of the mind that an artist should never have to compromise their design for sustainability's sake. You can only ask an artist to go so far with scenery made from tires or recycled plastic water bottles. And if reduce, reuse and recycle is the mantra of the green movement, I am finding it more and more difficult to work "reduce" into the artistry/sustainability equation. So where does that leave us?
The initial impetuous for this grant was to investigate alternative materials. We found lots of great options, but so far none have been cost effective for the average budget. Speaking to manufacturers about buying in bulk or creating a regional co-op in an attempt to lower the per-sheet price hasn't proven feasible either -- the reason we are told is that the process of harvesting and making wheatboard or bamboo plywood is so expensive at this point that there isn't much latitude in the pricing.
Scenic co-ops are great up to a certain point. But at Childsplay, I don't think we've ever needed a "standard" 4'X8' flat in the time I've worked here. Our touring productions are so specific in their requirements that even we can't reuse most of the sets, ourselves.
Many theatres have started to hire one or two designers to work for an entire season. This certainly seems like the beginning of reducing the amount of materials that go into a set. So...is sustainable stagecraft all about the planning? How do we change our thinking enough to be creative and sustainable?
-- Anthony Runfola, Childsplay Production Manager