UK's 1st zero-waste theater leads the way in sustainable art

Amid increasing efforts to raise awareness on climate change, the Greenhouse Theater in London offers a creative and environmentally conscious artistic approach as the country's first "zero waste" theater.

The theater, founded approximately five years ago by director Oli Savage and his friends, was built using recyclable materials, with a translucent roof for natural lighting and a grass-covered floor for the plays mostly staged during the summer.

While the set and costumes are sourced second-hand, those that are in decent condition are donated to communities in need and the rest are recycled.

Sixteen plays are planned for this summer at the theater, where everything sold and consumed is organic or environmentally friendly.

Savage, the founder and director at Greenhouse Theater, told Anadolu that every stage of its operation and its construction has been achieved with zero-waste, or as close to zero-waste as possible.

Noting that he has yet to encounter a similar theater in any other part of the world, Savage said that through his years in theater, he worked with creative pieces rather than the classics.

He got the idea of founding the theater when he read a script written by a close friend in 2017 about the violence people inflict on the planet.

Pointing out that most people’s reactions are rather subdued towards violence against the planet compared to violence perpetrated against other humans or animals, Savage said that part of their mission was to be loyal to the message they were giving while on stage.

Making a commentary on people’s relationship with the environment, for example, required they build their own theater, since none of the existing venues matched their message of sustainability.

Savage noted that they do not specifically choose themes that point to climate change in their plays; they also address topics that could be encountered on a regular theater stage. He commented that through their experience, they provide the audience with a sense of being closer to nature and each other.

He used the example of Shakespeare to highlight their approach, underlining that his works allow viewers to establish a strong connection with the pastoral world in his stories.

Savage, while stating that his team and he are not scientists, said they were explaining climate change with stories and experiences, rather than statistics.

He said art does not provide data on changing temperatures or rates of rainfall in rain forests, or help understand how the climate is shifting, but it can provide insight into the influence people have on the climate and their relationship with it.

Art makes people reexamine their relationship with themselves and the world around them and encourages them to think about the impacts of their actions on people in their lives and the world, he added.

Expressing their happiness and pride in pioneering such a theater establishment, Savage pointed out the positive comments he got from audiences and the press about the uniqueness of the Greenhouse Theater.

While some critics have said they are not passionate enough, Savage suspects they were put off by the lack of lightning, sound systems, and costumes one would see in a regular theater.

He doesn’t agree, and says you don't need those things to create good art.

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