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31 October 2022

Ecotheatre: How to Make Theatre and Performance Sustainable

Steph Cook

Campaigns Marketing Manager, Digital Theatre+

View of Earth from space

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Last week, we joined forces with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) to host a webinar on theatre and sustainability, a topic impossible to evade and of almost unthinkable importance. 

This inspiring online event saw a group of experts, academics, activists, and practitioners come together to discuss creative solutions and possibilities available to theatre artists in response to the climate crisis. 

Our impressive panel included director and dramaturg Zoë Svendsen, senior lecturer Katy Downton, theorist and ecotheatre pioneer Una Chaudhuri, production professional and activist Evie Redfern, and playwright and advocate Caridad Svich. All presenters prepared a short and engaging 5-minute presentation about their interests and activities in this field. 

Over the course of the conversation, the panel also addressed questions from the audience, including requests for practical exercises on the topic, how to accomplish sustainability on a budget, how to avoid becoming the production enemy when you are the sustainability lead, as well as recommendations for blogs and organisations to follow for more information on how to make theatre and performance sustainable.

We also highlighted the resources related to the topic available on Digital Theatre+, including the full-length capture of Amy Berryman’s play Walden, produced by Sonia Friedman Productions in 2021 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London. To accompany the production, we also have a 5000-word critical introduction to the play written by Cathy Turner and Evelyn O’Malley. The essay makes for perfect source material and includes historical context, interpretative choices, discussion questions, as well as a substantial analysis of the plot and politics surrounding the play. 

Another recent addition to the platform is the Concise Introduction to Ecocriticism by Cara Berger. In her writing, Cara dives into strands of ecofeminism, the philosophically orientated deep green ecology, and the more politicised social ecology.

There are more to mention, but no discussion of theatre and environmentalism would be complete without talking about Katie Mitchell. The very first volume of our 4x45 interview series explores her work, covering her collaboration with designers, her politics, and her unique aesthetic. We also have a blog written by Katie called Existential Creativity: Making Theatre Sustainable which is one of our most-read posts on our site, where she presents innovative sustainable ideas for seeing theatre through an environmental lens.

To access the full webinar recording for free, please sign up using the form below.