Sustainable theatre launches at Leeds
Young actors are sought to perform in the first ever production at the new Outdoor Sustainable Theatre (Living Lab) on the University of Leeds campus.
Located between the Schools of Performance and Cultural Industries and Earth and Environment, an outdoor green space awaits its transformation into a venue for this ambitious project, led by stage@leeds and driven by the principles of sustainability and contemporary theatre.
In two weeks during the school summer holidays, stage@leeds will create and perform a new adaptation of the Medieval Mystery Cycle – a collection of plays performed by communities – set amongst the living environment outside its theatre.
In collaboration with Steve Ansell, stage@leeds artistic director and theatre manager, and his creative team, participants will be engaged in a unique opportunity to create a new piece of immersive, contemporary performance, culminating in two public performances on Friday 23 August.
Steve said: “We are looking for 30 committed and enthusiastic participants to help us realise this exciting project.
“Applicants will be chosen on a first come, first served basis. No prior theatre experience is required, but if you sing, dance, play an instrument or have performed on stage many times, we would obviously still love to hear from you.”
Working towards a shared goal
Mystery and Miracle Plays were some of the first theatrical performances in the UK to be created outside of a religious setting, and can be considered as one of the starting points of Western theatre.
Steve added: “They were often created by guilds or groups in towns, working in small groups before coming together to realise a shared communal goal. Sustainability works in the same way – individuals coming together for a shared communal goal. None of us can clean up the planet on our own!
“There are no starring roles in the Mystery Plays – everyone is as important as everyone else, and this again is also true of sustainability; we all have an equal role to play.
“The Mystery Plays are funny, poignant and irreverent. They are full of music, drama and dance – in short, they reflect all sides of life. The Mystery Plays created their own grassroots theatrical revolution when they were performed in the 13th century. We want to start our own grassroots revolution to create theatre in a sustainable way. It seems only appropriate, therefore, that our first attempt at creating a new sustainable theatre should start with a Mystery Cycle – or, as one of our Masters students said, A Mystery (re)Cycle.”
Steve and his team plan to create a show that has a large impact on their audience but no negative impact on our planet. Resources used to create the production will be taken from existing stock or, where they are forced to purchase or source any specific items, this will only be done if they can be:
- re-used – in other theatre productions or projects at stage@leeds and the wider University
- re-purposed – used again but for a separate task
- returned – where the item can be returned to the seller for a collection fee or donated to another organisation; or, as a last resort
- recycled – if all of the above are not possible, can the item be recycled sustainably?
stage@leeds will track its usage and waste throughout the project. It will also calculate how much electricity it uses in creating the show, sharing the data and how successful it has been at the performances.
stage@leeds has already made big strides towards becoming a sustainable theatre, drastically cutting its plastics consumption, in line with the launch of our Single Out: 2023PlasticFree pledge.
The summer theatre project runs from 12-23 August and is for children aged 11 to 16.