Written by Jen Holton, Informed by an Fool Producer


Popping out of the pandemic, Informed by an Fool had been decided to do what we do finest, and create a brand-new present. After two years of reimagining earlier productions for socially distanced and out of doors audiences, we had been able to get in a room and assume up some concepts for our new manufacturing; Would You Guess In opposition to Us? (albeit nonetheless having to take COVID assessments twice every week!). 

With the daybreak of a brand new present, we additionally determined to tackle a brand new problem; to realize the Baseline stage of the Theatre Inexperienced E book: Sustainable Productions. Everyone knows there’s a local weather emergency, however earlier than the primary version of the Theatre Inexperienced E book was launched in 2021, finest observe for the theatre business in tackling the disaster was a little bit of a minefield. As an Arts Council Nationwide Portfolio Organisation, we have now been recording our carbon footprint and affect on the setting through Julie’s Bicycle yearly for a few years. Annually, we additionally rack our brains to think about new, impactful, and life like initiatives we are able to add to our Sustainability Motion Plan. Embarking on the Theatre Inexperienced E book was taking this to the following stage.  

Our Govt Director, Jenni Grainger, and I accomplished Carbon Literacy coaching with the Carbon Literacy Venture in January 2022, so I felt comparatively ready to sort out the Theatre Inexperienced E book. I gained’t faux, nonetheless, that I wasn’t daunted by the prospect of main a full workforce into one thing I’d examine however had by no means tried to ship. What’s extra, the Theatre Inexperienced E book is filled with data and fairly a feat to learn by means of – however the local weather emergency isn’t one thing that may be summarised in a number of phrases.  

Every stage of the Theatre Inexperienced E book (Baseline, Intermediate and Superior) has targets to succeed in and detailed steering to observe in making steps in the direction of internet zero – the last word objective. 

First off, every manufacturing must appoint a Sustainability Champion – somebody to trace, information and help sustainability efforts throughout the workforce and the manufacturing. With this being our first enterprise into the initiative, I felt it was vital for me (Producer) to imagine this place. As our Manufacturing Supervisor was intricately concerned within the set construct and tech necessities of the present, he oversaw these components, with my focus being costume, props, rehearsals alongside having an summary on the present, together with the tour, as an entire.  

Would You Guess In opposition to Us? was a co-production with Birmingham Repertory Theatre who had additionally not beforehand labored to the Theatre Inexperienced E book. They did, nonetheless, have employees members with earlier expertise which proved very helpful! As newbies, we needed to settle for that we didn’t know all of the solutions and had been prone to be hit with some harsh truths concerning what wants to vary in our observe. Regardless, we accepted the problem and made our method by means of the guidelines of what a Baseline manufacturing wants to realize.  

The principle measures for a manufacturing to realize the Baseline customary is for 50% of the present to have had a earlier life, 65% of the present to go on to have a future life, and for 100% of plastics to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable. That is calculated utilizing a listing, documenting all the pieces used within the present beneath 4 departmental headings; 1) set and furnishings, 2) props, 3) costume and 4) technical. To create an environment friendly stock compiled throughout the workforce, it instantly grew to become obvious that clear timeframes and communication had been important. I might suggest having the stock as a web-based, stay doc which everybody within the firm (together with co-producers) can entry and full as they go alongside. Remembering what number of hinges you used and what number of items of fruit had been required for the fruit puppetry sequence after the occasion, isn’t a simple process! Each buy for the manufacturing needed to be authorised by both myself, our Manufacturing Supervisor or the Rep’s Head of Manufacturing, Suzy Somerville, and every member of the workforce logged the objects they had been accountable for within the stock. With a big workforce engaged on a present, we discovered this to be the simplest method of guaranteeing we stayed on observe as a lot as attainable. 

One of many first tasks because the Sustainability Champion was for me to put in writing a Inexperienced Settlement (there’s a template within the Theatre Inexperienced E book) and have it signed by the entire workforce to verify everybody agrees to work in the direction of the related stage of the Theatre Inexperienced E book, collaboratively take duty and likewise interact with the e book itself, by studying the steering related to their function. It’s clear when coming into this course of that sustainability isn’t one individual’s job; selections and actions should be embedded in each facet of a manufacturing. This usually signifies that longer lead in instances are required to make sure objects are sustainably sourced.  

Time was one thing we didn’t have. Barely on the again foot after the pandemic, there was little time between affirmation of dates of the run, and pre-production. This meant that the design course of was fast and selections had been made swiftly to satisfy construct deadlines that allowed us to have the set in rehearsals – one thing which is completely integral to creating a Informed by an Fool present.  

We held a ‘Inexperienced Card’ assembly forward of the mannequin field displaying to introduce the prolonged workforce to the Theatre Inexperienced E book and begin the dialog round how finest to make the designers’ visions a actuality in essentially the most sustainable method attainable. Our Set and Costume Designer, Sophia Clist, is brilliantly resourceful and a lateral thinker and, in partnership with the Rep workforce, was in a position to design a set which utilised a recycled dance ground, recycled timbers and the carcass of an previous piano. With a lot of the present being set within the Seventies, the Rep’s retailer was a dreamland of retro attire, jackets, props and equipment which we had been in a position to utilise understanding they’d had a earlier life and would go on for use once more. Double tick from the Theatre Inexperienced E book! 

The present weaved collectively two narratives, that of our Inventive Director, Paul’s, childhood and his subsequent journey into showbiz, and Aston Villa’s journey of changing into European Champions in 1982. Fortunately, with Paul being an avid Aston Villa supporter, he was in a position to present among the costumes, together with soccer shirts and scarves. Sourcing classic soccer strips was barely extra problematic, nonetheless, and did contain some on-line orders. Every time attainable, we borrowed objects from shops or purchased regionally. Inevitably, Amazon did come to the rescue (or not, because the sustainability case could also be) a couple of times, significantly through the last-minute stress of tech week.  

Following the run at Birmingham Rep, we toured the present regionally round Birmingham. Native touring = much less miles, one other tick! Though the Theatre Inexperienced E book encourages customers to contemplate transport, the Baseline stage doesn’t require transport to be monitored or tracked. This threw up an attention-grabbing dialog in our analysis assembly – if we courier a second-hand rug to make use of within the present from Winchester to London, is it actually sustainable, or is a brand new one, from a neighborhood store in Birmingham, extra sustainable total? How about if the courier is transporting many deliveries on the similar time, so it’s not a solo journey? Is that higher than shopping for new, regionally?!  

By way of the entire strategy of striving in the direction of Baseline we realised that (identical to the questions above) there are a variety of nuanced judgement calls to make, and the Theatre Inexperienced E book doesn’t declare to have all of the solutions. It acknowledges that it’s an evolving initiative which goals to provide a framework and requirements to work in the direction of internet zero however that there are in-the-moment selections for the Sustainability Champions, with the manufacturing workforce, to make all through, which aren’t as clear minimize on sustainability – there’s many gray areas too.  

In relation to move, initially, I had thought of touring in an electrical van. Nonetheless, after studying Gasoline’s weblog on doing so and us failing to discover a transport firm native to Birmingham who would rent out one in all their electrical fleet for lower than 6 months, I admitted defeat and as an alternative labored on a schedule that will require the least quantity of driving between area people centres. Hopefully as electrical transport continues to develop, and petrol and diesel automobiles are phased out from 2030, it will grow to be far more easy to implement! 

The second I used to be nervous about, but in addition wanting ahead to, was finalising the supplies stock and figuring out if we had reached our targets. It’s vital to be as truthful within the reporting as attainable. Attempting to cross a chair off as a prop somewhat than a bit of furnishings as a solution to obtain targets for each props and set defeats the aim. What’s far more fruitful (though maybe troublesome to just accept!) is concluding what you managed to realize after which the primary enhancements that should be made for subsequent time. Attaining all of the targets on a primary try is unlikely, however the conversations which might be triggered on account of the method is what makes the Theatre Inexperienced E book a fantastic initiative.  

The Theatre Inexperienced E book recommends, the place attainable, to log set, props and tech gear by weight, and costumes by quantity of fabric. Discovering these measurements when they aren’t available, nonetheless, (similar to the load of a bit of timber, of the quantity of fabric in a jacket) takes a big period of time and other people energy. Apart from the set, the place weighing was barely extra easy, we predominantly relied on measuring every ‘unit’ of the present after which calculating percentages of every unit – which had been recycled, and which might have a future life and so on. Because the Theatre Inexperienced E book explains, this stock technique isn’t idiot proof. It’s worthwhile to resolve as a workforce what quantifies a ‘unit’. Does a hat stand and a tea set each individually equate to ‘one unit’ of the present, or is one prop price extra ‘models’ than one other? Equally in measuring the present by weight, ought to an merchandise that’s twice as heavy as one other actually have twice as a lot affect on the odds achieved? I’ll go away you to debate! 

All this apart, we had been actually happy with our outcomes which I’ve included beneath. These calculations proved a fantastic foundation for our analysis. They’ve clearly indicated the areas during which enhancements are wanted and have sparked inner and exterior conversations and actions going forwards, now from a way more knowledgeable viewpoint.  

A snapshot of the questions we are going to proceed to ask ourselves after finishing this Baseline experiment are: How can we make a bespoke set much more sustainable, with out overly affecting the inventive course of? Is placing the present into storage with the intention of reuse actually sufficient to say we’re giving it a future life? Is shopping for second hand objects on-line and subsequently incurring supply, higher than shopping for new objects regionally and in-person?  

In the end, we discovered the Theatre Inexperienced E book to be a superb initiative to encourage conversations and downside fixing round sustainability. The method helped change our mindsets to totally prioritise working in a sustainable method – one thing which must grow to be the business customary. We totally loved the collaborative spirit it created throughout the workforce -including producing, design, manufacturing, forged, designers, stage administration. We had been clear from the outset that Theatre Inexperienced E book Baseline was one thing we all wanted to be keen about attaining with the present and everybody received behind it, 100%.  


Studying to take forwards 

  • Spend money on some Carbon Literacy coaching, and acquaint your self with the Theatre Inexperienced E book as early as attainable, then use it as a reference level all through the method 
  • As quickly as a manufacturing is confirmed, maintain a preliminary Theatre Inexperienced E book assembly to speak the workforce by means of the method, agree timelines and future conferences, and guarantee everyone seems to be dedicated to the initiative 
  • Extra time, and sometimes extra money, is required to supply sustainable objects, so permit for this as a lot as attainable 
  • Organise a visit to set / props shops for designers as quickly as they’re on board, so that they know precisely what is on the market earlier than any purchases are made (this will spark their creativity too!) 
  • Have a web-based, stay stock which everybody within the firm (together with co-producers) can entry and full as they go alongside 
  • Embody a piece for notes within the stock. If an merchandise was bought second hand however was couriered, this impacts how sustainably we’re working – This ought to be famous within the stock and brought under consideration when evaluating our efficiency 
  • When objects are bought, take into consideration how they are often reused. If they will’t – how integral are they to the present? 
  • As concepts come up within the rehearsal room, don’t act on them straightaway as the thought could also be minimize a day or two later. Use a makeshift prop as a substitute, till you’re sure (or virtually sure!) it’ll make its method into the present 
  • Contemplate whether or not additional employees is required at factors. We had the DSM in rehearsals from the start, however the TSM joined from week 4 of 5. In hindsight, an additional pair of palms propping firstly would have been helpful – particularly contemplating all the pieces ought to be from sustainable sources, and this takes additional time 
  • Put the Theatre Inexperienced E book on the agenda for all manufacturing conferences. Alongside particular Theatre Inexperienced E book conferences, this ensures that its being built-in absolutely into the manufacturing course of
  • Don’t count on to know the entire solutions. Be open to brainstorming sustainability concepts with the workforce and deciding on one of the best methods to proceed collectively 
  • Have a look at the Theatre Inexperienced E book as an thrilling and artistic restriction, somewhat than one thing that limits creativity. We discovered this mindset actually liberating!   


Our outcomes 


% having a earlier life  

Goal: 50%  

Our end result: 66% (goal met) 

Notes: A considerable amount of the set was recycled from earlier exhibits or purchased second hand. A few of the heaviest objects had not had a earlier life, which lowered the share achieved. This included paint, because the Rep didn’t have particular colors left over from different exhibits, plywood which was wanted in sure dimensions which was not out there second hand, and Aqualac (lacquer), which once more, was not already within the Rep’s inventory. In future, with extra lead in time, we may communicate to companions and close by venues or native web sites to see if used paint and Aqualac is on the market elsewhere.  


% having a future life 

Goal: 65% 

Our end result: 95% (goal met) 

Notes: We’re hopeful that this present / set may have a future life, and so the set is at present housed in Informed by an Fool’s set retailer. Sure components (masking tape, spirits for cleansing) are objects that can’t be reused, or had been used up throughout this present, lowering the share barely. 



% having a earlier life  

Goal: 50%  

Our end result: 53% (goal met) 

Notes: Soccer shirts had been donated by TBAI’s Inventive Director and the Rep’s retailer had a superb array of Seventies garments to borrow. Extra particular objects wanted to be made or purchased, so had not had a earlier life. In future, with extra lead in time, we may put name outs on social media for particular objects or extra extensively search in charity outlets, however we didn’t have that chance with this present attributable to restricted time. 

% having a future life 

Goal: 65% 

Our end result: 100% (goal met) 

Notes: All the Rep’s costumes had been returned to their retailer and all the pieces purchased for the present is within the Informed by an Fool retailer with the view to reuse for analysis and improvement, future lifetime of the present or in different exhibits. 



% having a earlier life  

Goal: 50%  

Our end result: 42% (goal not met) 

Notes: Quite a few light-weight, plastic footballs had been required for the present and with out the time luxurious of having the ability to discover them second hand, purchases had been made on-line. In future, extra time will permit us to search out as many of those sorts of things second hand as attainable. Sure bespoke props had been made particularly for the present, together with intricately crafted puppets and equipment, together with a coronary heart, puppet soccer strip, and a personalised automotive quantity plate. We couldn’t have discovered these second-hand as they had been bespoke to the puppets made for the present (together with one made to impersonate Paul’s dad) and subsequently these are the few prop that we really feel might be justified for not having a earlier life. 

% having a future life 

Goal: 65% 

Our end result: 97% (goal met) 

Notes: All the borrowed Rep’s props had been returned to their retailer and all the pieces purchased new for the present is within the Informed by an Fool retailer with the view to reuse for analysis and improvement, future lifetime of the present or in different exhibits. A small quantity of perishable props weren’t appropriate for reuse, e.g. fruit. 



% having a earlier life  

Goal: 50%  

Our end result: 94% (goal met) 

Notes: There have been a number of objects that wanted to be purchased, because the Rep didn’t have them in inventory together with bell wire cable and LED tape. Nonetheless a lot of what was used, nonetheless, was reused from different exhibits or got here from the Rep’s technical inventory. 

% having a future life 

Goal: 65% 

Our end result: 97% (goal met) 

Notes: All objects both stay with the set in Informed by an Fool’s retailer, or had been returned to the Rep for future use – together with switches, plugs, tape, lamps and cabling. 


Plastics: 100% of plastics used had been reusable, recyclable or compostable (goal met)