Beginning with the musical, Jane Eyre, the Design & Production team in the WIU Theatre & Dance Scenic Shop made the decision to focus on creating the scenery and props in the most sustainable and green methods possible for one show a year. Re-using and repurposing materials from other productions created the set for The Tempest. The platforms on stage are a combination of stock platforms and repurposed materials from She Kills Monsters. The rock at the front edge of the stage made its debut in She Kills Monsters. The facings for the platforms and the understructure for the geode rock repurposed the aluminum window screen material from A Bright New Boise's evocative mountain set piece. The rock geode recycled all of the paper patterns used to construct the polished rock detail on the portals. The paper patterns were applied by using a papier-mache technique.
The entire department, cast, crew, and even the Northside Gym donated plastic bottles and containers used to create the crystalline features of the geode. After cutting the containers in half, they were quilted together with fishing line, painted, and attached to the structure. Donated CDs were cut into shards and added to the crystalline area to add an additional sparkle.
Another method of creating a more sustainable production is to use all parts of any materials purchased for the show. This may seem like an odd statement to make, but often there is a significant amount of waste generated because the design doesn't fit neatly into the proportions the material is sold. All the off-cut of the irregularly shaped polished rock portal were used to cover the cave. Painting erosion cloth from stock created all of the flora and fauna dressing around the cave and using decorations the costume shop had leftover from creating Caliban's costume.
Not only beneficial to the environment, all of these methods are financially helpful for the department. The cost savings in recycling, repurposing, and utilizing all parts of materials purchased for the show will be used to invest in infrastructure items to be used in future productions.
WIU Scenic Studio's commitment to sustainability is strong. Ely Mattson, first year MFA Scenic Design student, is a registered College Green Captain with the Broadway Green Alliance. Ely is working with Technical Director Dan Schmidt and the scenic & prop designers to improve the environmental performance of the productions. She will be creating a poster presentation on WIU's efforts for the United States Institute of Theatre Technology's annual National Conference & Stage Expo.