Cindy Says: Make Your Show a Greener Place

Cindy Says: Make Your Show a Greener Place

By Cindy Ripley on April 08, 2019

I just returned from an exhilarating three days of Junior Theater Celebration with Team iTheatrics at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, N.C. The kids and teachers are continually an inspiration at these high energy events. The extra bonus of "spring green" foliage was overwhelming to we northerners after a winter that has had a delayed departure!

I know many times in this column I add something new to your endless roster of responsibilities with musical theater kids. It's because I have always felt that our profession can morph itself like no other in ways to shape children's lives. So here I go again, my friends.

Yes, I am waiting for anything to turn green, and the word "green" is certainly front and center in a different way in everything we do. The state of our environment and raising awareness about climate change is a problem we all need to address - and soon. Educating our youth to activate habits that will reduce our carbon footprint is imperative. Our musical theatre productions provide a myriad of opportunities for sustainability for the earth, our communities and our shows!

Last summer at our Junior Teaching Intensive in New York City, I met an innovative and fun music teacher from Lyons Elementary School in Houston Texas named Steven Shannon. When Steven and his students put on a show, the entire school and community are keenly aware they are part of keeping the earth sustainable through musical theater! Steven's students found creative uses for ordinary things - like 500 empty milk jugs and illuminated them from behind, using red, orange, and white Christmas lights to recreate a magnificent opening sunrise for The Lion King JR.

Steven has some outstanding "going green" ideas to launch in your programs:

• Collect from the entire community whether it is empty milk jugs, used paper of all colors and sizes, or differently shapes cardboard boxes.

• Branch out to organizations who support the cause! Steven contacted the Houston Zoo, celebrating "Party for the Planet". They received an invitation to perform selections at the Zoo, where they showcased recycled set pieces and costumes from their show.

• Schedule shows on Earth Day and Earth Weekend and bring awareness to the cause.

• Show off the creativity and let the recycled part shine! Steven's students created flowers and leaves from recycled magazines, cupcake boxes and old colorful posters. They made sure the original manufactured print was obvious, giving the finished product more edge. The audience enjoyed viewing the production's recycled art recycling and appreciated its contribution to "going green".

Your students will brainstorm ideas to make this a natural part of designing a show. Here are a few more gems you may already have in practice!

• Design sets by incorporating as many recycled and reused materials as possible.

• Have parents organize collection drives for fabric and clothing. Reuse and borrow costume pieces.

• Have students and the community brainstorm greener ways to dispose of props/sets than in landfills. Can other schools rework YOUR set for THEIR show?

• Use LED lights and compact fluorescents in your theater and classrooms.

• Have tech students use rechargeable batteries and decrease toxic waste.

• Shop from local vendors instead of shipping items across the country.

You are already making the world a better place, one musical at a time. Why not make a greener one as well? Happy Spring! - CR

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