Higher Education Funding Council for England

Using theatre to think about the planet

Thursday 26-06-2014 - 16:12
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Across the country, Students’ Green Fund projects are engaging students with sustainability in a huge range of new, innovative, and creative ways.

At the University of Birmingham Students’ Union, a group of students from the university’s school of acting have come together to create a theatrical piece about humans’ interactions with the planet.

Through their performances, they’re opening up the space to imagine a sustainable future.

The play is “about a post-apocalyptic future where the natural world is thriving but still littered with the rubbish and other human made items”, explains actor Kimberly Allsopp.

“We wanted to express the impact we, as humans, have on our environment and have the audience question their relationship with nature at the moment”

Going beyond creating plays with environmental considerations at the heart of their themes, the Earth Players are committed to reducing their actual impact of their productions.

“Very little of our set we bought”, Kim explains. “The plants that we did buy have been donated on to Edible Eastside. Other set items have been donated or recycled, and we only used one light and one projector to keep energy use to a minimum”

By taking upcycling and recycling into account with the staging and building energy-efficiency into the lighting decisions, Earth's Players are beacon of sustainability for theatre groups everywhere.

“Realistically, theatre is quite unsustainable”, Kim admits. “It a lot of resources and energy, We wanted to demonstrate that theatre can be more sustainable through finding and re-using set and using less lighting”.

The play was really well received by its audiences at the Lakeside Gallery in the Custard Factory. One audience member called it “a very thought provoking piece. The truth in the movement was beautiful to watch”. Another called it “an innovative inspired way to connect people with the world around them... and the truth"

Theatre has always been crucial for making social justice issues relatable to wider audiences. Earth's Players are doing exactly that for sustainability. Coupled with reducing their own negative environmental impacts of theatre production, projects like this can make a profoundly affecting introduction to the green movement, and thinking about our relationship with the planet.


[photo credit: Courtney Wallis Richardson photography]

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