Stage Managing a "Green" Production

Whisper #178

Cheryl Firth is an Assistant Stage Manager for The Tempest and a Green Rep for the RSC. She says her experience at work has influenced her personal life and led her to be stricter with waste management at home while spreading the message about recycling and sustainability.

To start off this project the props department handed over ten large props skips of recycled props gathered from the RSC store, the local area, and beaches across the UK.

Over four weeks we improvised and created different parts of “The Island” of The Tempest using all the props provided. From doing this we filtered the least used props out of the room. Instead of getting rid of these we found another life for them, whether that be on costumes, puppets, Front of House installations, or artwork for the show.

The difference between this way of working and how I have worked before, is that you realise how disposable everything is and how much gets thrown away on a whim. So much goes to unhealthy waste. In this process we have made a huge effort from all angles to try and reuse and recycle. Almost all of the props in the final production are the one we used in the improvisation sessions in week 1 of the project.

The Tempest: improvisation with recycled materials
Skips of recycled waste were given to the cast and creatives for improvisation when creating the island habitat
Photo by Cheryl Firth © The Artist Browse and license our images

Working in stage management includes a lot of paperwork and reframing from printing everything out is a big challenge but we have massively reduced our printing load almost by half, by reprinting on double-sided paper. At rehearsal calls, rather than giving everyone paper copies, we also asked, where possible for people to use the online version.

The Tempest: local school created production artwork
Local schoolchildren used rubbish and recycling materials to make props for the production
Photo by Cheryl Firth © The Artist Browse and license our images

Being a Green Rep has thrown me further into how we help not only our industry but our personal lives too. I recycle at home and I have encouraged the wider company to do the same by sending information regarding Christmas tree donations and collections so that they are being recycled properly. We as a company have made a great effort to all have a mug or a travel cup rather than using disposable coffee cups. For press night gifts, we reduced the amount of paper used or bought natural gifts like plants, bamboo and recycled materials for cards.

It really does take a collective to help our environment and feel like we have all, as a company become much more aware of how we live our lives more sustainably. It was a great help that our creative team were heavily involved in this too as it set the bar for everyone else.

I have really enjoyed being a part of this change on the show and I am so glad being more sustainable is more second nature in all areas of my life and will 100% be taking this practice with me on future projects. It has also been a fantastic show off to other projects that it is achievable to work in this way and hopefully it will keep going in the right direction.

Propero and Miranda on a tiny island amid a storm

Making a green tempest

Our 2023 production of Shakespeare's The Tempest is inspired by the climate emergency, asking us to examine the delicate balance in our personal relationships as well as with the fragile ecosystems that surround us. 

These blogs explain how everyone behind the show, from scenery builders and prop makers to the actors on stage is working together to create a sustainable Tempest that responds to and reflects the climate emergency.

Go to The Tempest

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