Sustainability in Performing Arts

By Steve Kidd, performing arts instructor

As co-clerk of the sustainability committee, I have learned a lot from those in our community implementing and encouraging sustainable practices in their teaching and everyday lives. Moses Brown’s designation as a Green Ribbon School from the US Department of Education last year has also reinforced the idea that I work at a special school that cares about the environment and does its best to protect it. 

As a drama teacher at MB, I have found it particularly hard to be mindful of sustainable practices as the topic of meaningful environmental change rarely comes up in rehearsal. However, as this year’s theater season approached, we challenged our production team to consider how we may create the best performances while preserving materials and environmental resources. 

In our first play of the season, the fifth grade put on a “paper-less” adaptation of The Little Prince. Rather than printing hard copies of our scripts, the students all shared an online version and used iPads as their rehearsal scripts. The fifth-grade teachers also got on board with this plan and were willing to teach and rehearse using only our google drive and iPads. This method also enabled us to edit and change the text without having to re-copy or print pages. As a result of all our efforts, we were able to preserve reams and reams of printing paper. 

On a larger scale, our upper school’s MBinRep productions of The Crucible and Twelfth Night boasted a beautiful set design by Jack Tripp ’18. As part of the design, Jack envisioned a large back wall made of entirely of smaller sheets of wood organized at different angles and depths. Upon leaving a production meeting in September, our technical director Bruce Shaw spotted a large pile of pallets on the side of the SquashBusters construction site. He inquired and was given approval to take those pallets and repurpose them for our MBinRep set this fall. 

The pallets provided an astonishing foundation for Jack’s wood-mosaic backdrop and now will return to their original purpose as we take them down and reuse them to store props and set pieces in the basement of Woodman. Just as an actor plays more than one part, we are thrilled that these pallets had a second and now third life as part of our fall MBinRep program. 

At times the prospect of living sustainably can be daunting. These small adjustments made me realize that we can all play a role in social and environmental change by focusing on the little things. 

We will continue to move forward with sustainable practices at the forefront of our collective mind and are eager to hear more ways in which environmentally friendly mindsets are informing learning, people, and place at MB.