You’ve just been to see a show and now there is to be some live music. The solar-powered lights flicker underneath a transparent ceiling and you’ve had a lovely day at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
That can all be achieved with Greenhouse Theatre, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s first-ever fully sustainable, zero-waste entirely home-made, hand-built theatre.
“The big challenge to making green theatre is mind-set,” says Oli Savage, artistic director of the Greenhouse.
“The creative process is very single-use; we develop a concept and then begin collecting materials. There isn’t much room for considering the materials themselves. In building the Greenhouse, we looked for materials that were readily available, recycled and would have a positive impact on the environment. This is a fundamental change. No longer is the art itself the only goal.”
Contrary to what you’d expect from a homemade theatre created entirely by a bunch of youths from St. Andrews’, BoxedIn theatre Greenhouse is a success.
Built over a fortnight in July, Greenhouse is a pop-up theatre on the corner of the Pleasance.
Creative Director, Louis Catliff is also directing both Shellshock! And The Voices We Hear which are on daily at Greenhouse. In July, he was one pair of those six hands which helped to build Greenhouse.
“Outside it looks like a rustic barn” says Catliff. “It was mainly built by three people using scaffolding and trussing. It’s second hand, but it checks out structurally. There are wooden palettes also, sourced over the course of a year, and loads of them from other theatres.
“A lot of things are completely new, but they would have been thrown away despite that. It’s a testament to how much waste there is, and if you know where to look for it, you can find high-quality stuff that otherwise would have been thrown on the heap.”
The main thrust of Greenhouse is to have a completely sustainable venue that is both professional, functioning and compassionate to its ethos of complete accessibility for all. It’s pretty shocking to realise that even in 2019, many of the larger Fringe venues are inaccessible for wheelchair users and people with limited walking ability.
“A lot of other venues have steps, or are on the top of hills with no lifts systems or ramps to put in,” says Catliff. “It’s a big problem at the Fringe. Greenhouse is totally accessible for all.”
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