The ecoTheater News for September 2008
On September 10, Boris Johnson, London’s mayor since May, releases a comprehensive report on the greening of London theater entitled “Green Theatre: Taking Action on Climate Change.” Download the full report here.
Live Design runs a cover article on Austin’s new Long Center for the Performing Arts for their July issue. This building is one of a handful of reasons I’m sort of sad not to live in Austin any more — I used to live just up the street and walked, biked and rode the bus by the construction site for a long time before leaving for the upper midwest. The building achieved its “greenness” primarily by retaining about 65% of the original building, first constructed in the late 1950’s.
Wicked producer organizes a “town hall meeting on making Broadway green” on June 10 at The Gershwin Theatre. The meeting featured Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
According the press release, “theatre owners and managers, manufacturers, suppliers and consultants, architects and engineers, will be invited to debate the impact of climate change on theatre buildings and what influence the reduction of our carbon footprint will have on theatre use in the 21st Century.”
The North American Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference (NATEAC) will hold a panel discussion this year entitled “The Greener Theatre.”
The conference will run July 20 & 21 at Pace University in NYC.
ecoTheater has received word from 9Thirty Theatre Company (9TTC) announcing the inaugural productions of the new NYC company, which will open on May 23. The shows, under the moniker New Wordsmiths Forge A Series are the debut of 9TTC , which bills itself as a new “eco-friendly” theater company. For details on the company and their opening go to 9ttc.org.
Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company has been selected to become the first resident company of the La Jolla Playhouse for the coming year. Mo’olelo, an original greenLister, will begin the residency right away with their upcoming production of Night Sky in August and September.
Ian Garrett traveled to London this month to visit theater artists pursuing sustainability.
Garrett witnessed Arcola’s hydrogen fuel cell in operation, and met with the theater’s artistic director Mehmet Ergen. He also attended Theatre Materials/Material Theatres conference last week and told me via email from London that he was rather pleased to finally be discussing the sustainability of artmaking rather than merely technology.
As if it even needs repeating on the News page: New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) has decided to eliminate its six person production department, including its production manager and technical director. The full time staffers will be laid off officially effective May 30, 2008. Citing an apparently urgent need to shave $1million from its operating expenses, NYTW announced the move to its employees at the end of last week behind closed doors.
According to NYTW production manager Michael Casselli the entire annual salary savings of the firings will be amount to approximately $280,000 plus varying benefits savings. The theater also terminated all but one of its box office staff.
NYTW still plans on breaking ground for their new ec0-friendly scene and costume shop facilities on May 14, though one must wonder how the elimination of the production staff will effect this otherwise press-friendly event.
The 2008 North American Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference (NATEAC) in July will include a panel discussion entitled The Greener Theater, with David Taylor, Andy Hayles, Scott Georgeson, and Juhi Shareef. Gideon Banner of the Green Theater Initiative (GTI) plans to attend.
Sharon Swingle, a designer and theater educator at College of the Siskiyous has begun a web site dedicated to helping others think about greening up the theater at www.thegreentheater.org. She sent me a great email a month or two ago, and I regret waiting this long to mention her work until now…sorry Sharon. Her logo and banner are fantastic, by the way.
Gideon Banner officially announced the Green Theater Initiative on March 25 in an email to a few hundred theater artists. “Once I have the site up in a more user-friendly form,” Banner told ecoTheater, including newsletter sign-up information, “I’m going to try to get it out to the theater community at large.”
The cover story of the March 2008 issue of dramabiz magazine, “Going Green Can Mean Saving Green For Innovative Theatres,” featured Portland Center Stage, Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company and even Ian Garrett. Says Garrett in dramabiz: “One of the failings of the way theatre is produced in this country is that there’s so much emphasis on the show as opposed to the process.” It also included a dubious ad/sidebar authored by Frans Klinkenberg of Angstrom Lighting: “By switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs you can instantly start the process of ‘going green.'”
Ian Garrett, recipient of the Sherwood Award from Center Theatre Group (CTG) is entering into the planning stages of an organization to be called the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, while a similar organization has been founded by NYC actor Gideon Banner and is known as the Green Theater Initiative (GTI). Both Garrett, a designer and CalArts grad student, and Banner want to help theaters find a way to go green — since learning of each other’s projects on opposite coasts, they have decided to keep each other in their respective loops so that they can work together to achieve their goal.
Lighting industry company Martin Professional received a grant from the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation (DNATF) to fund a cooperative project called Intelligent Light Emitting Diodes (INLED). Martin will work with Aalborg University and DNATF on the project over the course of the next two years. Says Martin’s CEO Christian Engsted: “This initiative further emphasizes Martin’s desire to lead the development and set the standards within our industry as well as our commitment to continue to improve lighting efficiency to benefit the environment.”
Over the March 28-30 weekend Seema Sueko, AD of Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company (one of the original greenListers) will speak at AIGA San Diego’s Seeds of Change conference as a member of a panel entitled Design For Change: Make A Difference Within Your Community. Also on the panel will be Irene Stillings, Executive Director of the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), among others. The keynote speaker on the opening night of the conference will be uber enviro-entrepreneur Paul Hawken, whose most recent book, Blessed Unrest, was the subject of a post here on ecoTheater last year.
At the 2008 USITT Conference & Stage Expo in Houston an Architecture session on LEED-certified building was held on Saturday March 22 entitled Sustainable Design – to LEED or not to LEED. Austin based LD and all around theater artist Natalie George was in attendance and said of the session: “they didn’t really say anything I didn’t already know — but it was cool that they were doing it.”