The Green Play – how to produce a theater play the sustainable way

In 2018, WOW-EFFECT Theater will produce a wonderful, heartwarming play – “The Lost Boy”. This play will be special for several reasons, one of them being that it will be produced in the most sustainable way possible. It will be the Green Play 2018!

But how will WE make this possible? And why now?

The European Green Capital

This year Nijmegen will join the ranks of cities such as Nantes, Essen, Copenhagen and Ljubljana, becoming the European Green Capital. The city was chosen for this award and title because of its achievements in environmental, social and economic sustainability. For the duration of the year, Nijmegen will celebrate its new title by working together with local businesses and partners.

It will offer workshops, events and information for its population to educate and inform them about Nijmegen even greener plans for the future. This also includes a lot of information for citizens on how to live more sustainable and green themselves.

Sustainability – it’s in the hands of all of us

Because of the cities and the citizens enthusiasm about sustainability and green living, WOW-EFFECT Theater has decided to join in and make a stand this year. We are planning to make our play as green as we can. We will make sure that we source our materials for the production sustainability, we will reduce our waste and make sure we think every time before we make a purchase. Because, in the end, consumers as well as producers should be aware of their responsibilities towards each other and this earth we live on. And in our opinion, this should include the arts as well.

This year WE will celebrate its 4th birthday. In these past four years we have produced five plays, performed in four cities and brought together people from over 16 different nationalities. But we have also learned that creating theater can be messy and “learning by doing” can lead to throwing out over 2.000(!) flyers instead of handing them out. No more! Not this year! WE will be green instead!

How we plan to make it green

For our play, we have decided to apply a few ground rules to keep our work sustainable. Each ground rule has its own application towards becoming and staying green and sustainable in our effort to produce our bets version of The Lost Boy.

  • Purchase only when necessary

Rule number one is something we have been trying to do in the past, but will intensify this year. Instead of buying props, costumes or decor pieces, we want to work together with friends, family, local businesses and other amateur theater groups to reduce our spending overall. Each item we consider buying we will first try to source without investing in our money in a new product and possible shipping fees.

As of today, 5 months into our production period, we have not even spend 50% of our initial budget, in part thanks to sourcing our materials and needed items from other places than stores. Our collaboration with Lindenberg is a great help here, too, as we’re able to pull our resources together.

  • First second-hand, then self-made, then store-bought

However, if we will have to buy something, we will first try to source it second-hand. Luckily, Nijmegen is the home of a very big Het Goed store, as well as other smaller second-hand shops such as Habbekrats and Basta. Nearly 70% of our costumes are second-hand, with another 20% being self-made. In such a case as it is not possible for us to find an item in a second-hand store or via websites such as marktplaats, we will make the prop, costume or decor item ourselves. Only if this is not feasible too will be buy something new.

A few impressions of our self-made props and costumes

  • Reduce print media

It’s true, in the past couple of years we usually had a lot of posters and flyers left over after our performances. Sometimes piles of them! But this year we want to do it different. In fact, we will reduce our print media to a minimum.

First of all, we will only be printing a small handful of posters, not flyers at all. We have also opted to not buy physical copies of the script for The Lost Boy, which would have been sent all the way from the United States. Instead, we gave each members the option not print their script at all or have it printed collectively on recycled paper.

  • Reduce waste

This point works very close together with the last one, but we want to go even further here. We want to produce our costumes, props and stage decor from sustainable materials and in such a manner that they ban be reused. An example would be the hook and sword from our Captain Hook – the hook has been made from paper and natural clay, which both are biodegradable. The sword itself has been made from paper, a metal core and an old prop from another play. It can easily be taken apart and reused differently in the future.

With every construction and items we make ourselves, we strife to make in such a way it won’t be lost after the production. We will also sell or give away all items and construction that won’t be needed anymore by us once our performances have been done.

Thinking of the future

All of these initiatives by our groups are not just for this year, though. We are planning to use many of these techniques in the next years as well to make our work and projects sustainable and reusable for many more projects to come. We hope to learn a lot from this year’s efforts.