(This story was updated April 27, 2021 to include a new version of the video by Broadway Green Alliance.)
In celebration of Earth Day, check out this exclusive video above from the Broadway Green Alliance starring K. Todd Freeman, Tim Guinee, Ann Harada, Laurel Harris, Lucas Hedges, Terry Kinney, Judy Kuhn, Jose Llana, Kristine Nielsen, and Lauren Patten. The short, filmed in January 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, is written by Heather Robb and shot and edited by Situation Interactive. Since its creation, the BGA reports that one fact presented during the video has changed: 2016 is now tied with 2020 as the warmest year on record.
The Broadway Green Alliance is an industry-wide initiative that educates, motivates, and inspires the entire theatre community and its patrons to implement environmentally friendlier practices on Broadway and beyond. Recently, he BGA convened a task force of over twenty industry leaders and experts to address the necessary challenge of reopening greener following the COVID-19 shutdown. The result of these conversations is a free toolkit, Reduce, Reuse, Reopen: Sustainable Solutions for Reopening Greener. Not intended to replace or supersede health and safety requirements, the toolkit is a companion document, intended to assist in decision-making at all levels and provide sustainable resources for consideration in those decisions.
For more information about how Broadway can reopen sustainably, read below.
What are some of the most important steps theatre professionals and audiences can take to be more sustainable?
Austin Sora, Green Captain for the National Tour of Phantom of the Opera: People so often shy away from implementing greener practices in their everyday lives because they have an all-or-nothing mentality, but living more sustainably can be as easy as throwing a reusable set of cutlery in your bag or switching to a more eco-friendly makeup brand. When it comes to a greener return to theatre, the little changes here and there will go a long way. What I love most about being a Green Captain is seeing all of the small actions multiplied across an entire company. The impact we can make together is truly extraordinary.
Donya K. Washington, Festival Producer, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and member of the BGA Reopening Greener Task Force: Starting to make your organization more sustainable can feel like a mountain —but don't give up! Quite probably, people in your organization have already made small steps in this direction. One way to begin is to find out what's already been done and add that up. It can give you quite a boost to see how much was done when there was no plan for it. How much more could you do if you were working together? And looking at the low hanging fruit that's already been plucked may give you some clues on where to take your organization next on the sustainability journey.
Molly Braverman, BGA Director: The most important step toward sustainability is the first one. It is impossible to be 100% green, we can only be greener. We can each look to take steps to be more sustainable tomorrow than we are today. That might look different for each person— perhaps it is signing online petitions, reducing your use of single-use plastics, divesting your finances from fossil fuels, getting involved in your local mutual aid groups, moving from paper to digital in the rehearsal room, or all of the above. What is critical is that we start somewhere and that we start now.
How can the industry take advantage of the break in performances caused by the pandemic to create a more sustainable industry?
Montego Glover, Green Captain for It Shoulda Been You and Mephis, member of the BGA reopening greener task force: I joined the task force because and it was the logical next step after being a BGA Green Captain. The pandemic provided a particularly unique opportunity to affect change. Reopening sustainably is important to me because it's a profound opportunity to rebuild our workspaces and habits in a way that really addresses the distress of our planet and therefore ourselves. It teaches awareness, mindfulness, and care.
Molly Braverman, Director of the BGA: One place to begin this work is by implementing the recommendations in the BGA’s Reduce, Reuse, Reopen: Sustainable Solutions to Reopening. We each hold the power to affect change and as theatre artists and audiences, we can accelerate that change by using our unique platform to inspire others to play their part.
Our industry faces an enormous number of challenges and a series of interconnected crises, from the economic impacts of COVID-19 to a much-needed reckoning with systemic racism to climate change. These issues are intersectional and we have an unique opportunity to redefine our priorities to promote social and environmental well-being.
Prioritizing health and safety does not need to come at the expense of the environment. In fact, the COVID-19 crisis shines a spotlight on the inextricable link between the health and safety of our people and our planet. We must seize this moment. The climate crisis is here, with greater impacts yet to come.
What are some examples of how our community is already incorporating sustainability in its reopening?
John Carrafa, Director and Stage Directors and Choreographers Green Captain: Directors and choreographers included the BGA Reduce, Reuse, Reopen Toolkit as a prominent part of the SDC Safety Reopening Guidelines because as we met over Zoom and discussed reopening safely, we recognized the immediate crisis could cause people to lose sight of our efforts to address climate change. As creators of theatre, we know how all the parts of a production contribute to the whole. The climate crisis, health and safety, and social equity are not separate issues, but all part of the same movement toward a greater awareness of how we as artists function in the world. What we create and how we create it, will inspire the change we’re all looking for.
Local One Green Committee Co-Chairs Trustee Joe Valentino and Sister Bridget O’Connor: The Local One Green Committee, established in 2020 by President James Claffey, Jr. and Secretary Robert Score, is working to affect both incremental and sustainable change by individual members, as well as to address systemic issues associated with theatrical production.
The committee, co-chaired by Trustee Joe Valentino and Sister Bridget O’Connor and representing the 3,550 members of Local One, is building on the work of the Broadway Green Alliance to develop a stagehand-specific green toolkit as a resource to provide eco-friendly options for everyday work on the job site.
In an effort to look at the big picture while achieving specific, measurable, and attainable goals, the committee has begun to explore building on the work of the Producers Guild of America to develop a system similar to the Sustainable Practices Checklist, to guide and account for sustainable production practices throughout the life cycle of a show, from pre-production to post-strike, through eco-conscious planning as well as through community partnerships for re-use such as Materials for the Arts, ArtCube, and educational programs.”
What are some talking points people can use to discuss the climate crisis with their friends and family?
Molly Braverman, Director of the BGA: Climate justice is racial justice. Due to the many injustices faced by marginalized communities, these most vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. We must center the voices and experience of the BIPOC leaders in this work, and build a just transition that affirms the fundamental right to political, economic, cultural, and environmental self-determination of all peoples.