It’s all the rage, in all the news – we have a problem with our waste. According to the ABC War on Waste each year the waste that Australia generates is growing at twice the rate of our population growth. While we have now banned single use plastic bags at our large supermarket chains, the use of plastics, recycling contamination and how and where our recycled waste goes, is a huge concern. But what of our commitment to the recycling and reuse of materials for our stages? What can we do as theatre artists? ReMida WA is a fantastic organisation committed to the reuse of wasted materials for artistic projects in the classroom – re-purposing no longer needed ‘things’ into objects of creativity and value for kids, their families and their schools. Our sustainability blog will continue to attempt to inform you of things our community are doing including, in the future, an issue on community gardens. This issue we will hear from Geordie Crawley about his take on waste, reuse of set materials and creating an arts community that shares.
- Geordie, what’s your take on sustainability in the arts?
I have so much to say! Theatre is a medium of waste. There’s so much content generated by creatives that never sees the light of day; sets, props and costumes that are used once and then discarded. Increasingly though, it needs to be a medium of recycling and sustainability. Sustainability in sourcing and in the post-life journey of anything used.
Also, sustainability as artists. Mental-health wise, safety in the room…Making sure our artists get paid fairly when they can…especially in this independent sector. As a company, Rorschach Beast is very proud to have been able to pay our artists equity (plus Super) on Bus Boy’s most recent tour to Brighton!
- As an individual how do you ‘deal’ with waste?
Very poorly! I mean, I have calico bags and stuff but, I still marvel at the amount of waste I produce. I ride my bike and catch the train and yet… there’s still more I can do. I feel a great burden sometimes in regards to waste. I try to advocate to make sure that the organisations that surround us are doing their part, which is why I’m so proud to be part of The Blue Room Theatre’s community.
- What ‘waste’ is there as a producing artist/theatre maker, and how do you try to combat this?
For my most recent show Hive Mind it was very important for us to make sure our set had a meaningful second life once the season was completed. The hexagonal rostra that was used in the show went on to be used by our friends at Static Drive Co. for their season of Tissue at the Subiaco Independent Theatre Festival. The black wooden beams around the sides all got turned into pot plant holders by Cherish Marrington’s dad! A shirt one actor wore in the first scene? I’m wearing it right now!
- Do you consider the life cycle of materials you use in your theatre projects?
Of course! The entire set for Bus Boy was preowned. We found the bike in a rehearsal room (it used to belong to Joe Lui), and the bike parts that hung from the rigging were all preowned. It’s cheaper and better for the environment. It’s practically an inner-city-lefty theatre maker’s dream!
- What can we do as individuals?
Be proactive. In Hive Mind I think we could have been more resourceful than we ultimately were. There’s always waste, but I think going forward it’s going to matter far more to us that the waste output of our shows is minimal. Think about this stuff as you’re designing or devising. It’s important.
- Any crazy ideas for reusing set materials?
Here’s a list of ten things: Turn your plastic bags into Pacman ghost sculptures, rostra become coffins, those light globes can become tiny ant farms, those rocks can be sent to the navy to help keep Davy Jones’ Locker weighted to the sea floor, turn that spare pair of jeans into a backpack, SHAPES(!!!), wear those character glasses in meetings to make Lindsay from marketing think you’re a smart one, turn all that wood into a bed and sleep in it, that puppet from your show is your new soul mate, send me any left over money you have.
But seriously, talk to organisations like REmida, talk to your collaborators, talk to the sustainability champions in your life. Don’t be lazy. Make the effort – it’s important.
If you are stuck with household waste and you know that it doesn’t belong (or could be harmful) in landfill think about whether it could go to the Perth City Farm. They have introduced a recycling hub and are collecting the following:
For Mindarie Regional Council;
– Mobile phones
– Small batteries (not car batteries!)
– Printer cartridges
– Fluoro globes and tubes
For ReMida WA;
– CDs & DVDs
– Craft items
– Computers & cables
– Nescafe Dulce Gusto Capsules
– Colgate packaging
– L’OR coffee capsules
– Mail satchels
– Cosmetics, hair care and skin care packaging
If you don’t know about Perth City Farm check out https://www.perthcityfarm.org.au/ or visit them at 1 City Farm Place, East Perth (next to Claisebrook Train Station)