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Penquin (Amanda Lytle) - A Future We Create - December 2021 - photo Becky Toma.jpg

Photo By Becky Toma


Green theatre is a blossoming movement all over the world. Our efforts have been recognized by a few who have written about us specifically. There are lots of articles out there on green theatre if you are interested in reading more about it.

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Read More About Sustainable Theatre

By Meagan Holdeman April 2022

Colorado Theatre Community Joins the Eco-Friendly Theatre Movement

On December 30, 2021, the Marshall Fire in Boulder County, CO destroyed 1,000 structures, especially in the cities of Superior and Louisville, Colorado. While wildfires are frequent in the western part of the USA including Colorado — we have seen 4 of the 5 biggest wildfires in recorded Colorado state history in the last 3 years — none have had the impact of a wildfire in the middle of winter followed by a large snowstorm. The Marshall Fire and news of several other wildfires throughout March 2022 reminds us how close worsening climate impacts are to our everyday lives in suburban and urban areas in the USA. Climate change is not a future problem; it is a now problem. One can only hope these disasters will make climate action from the government and businesses an immediate need instead of something to put off for later. Surprisingly, even people that were already concerned about climate change can struggle to take action. “We’re theatre people,” you might say, “What are we supposed to do about climate change?” For some, change is difficult. For others, it’s hard to pack more into an already full schedule, much less attend a climate march or volunteer to plant trees. But what if I told you that your greatest tool for change lies in something you’re already doing — working in the theatre?


In 2008, Broadway theatre leaders realized they were each trying to be more eco-friendly and decided they should collaborate and share their ideas and key discoveries. Many met up, and with the help of the National Resource Defense Council, an initiative called “Broadway Goes Green” took root to “clean up” Broadway’s carbon footprint. Some of the early successes came from the Broadway Goes Green initiative (now known as the Broadway Green Alliance [BGA]). This included a massive push to switch all of the marquee lighting to LED (saving 700 tons of carbon emissions per year), and Wicked took a leap of faith into the world of rechargeable batteries to eliminate the thousands of batteries that usually end up in landfills used annually to power their wireless microphones.


With these effective examples plus a host of other ideas borrowed from other businesses and experts, the American theatre has the potential to make a significant and meaningful impact on the environment. As a result of the pandemic, we know that big-scale changes and adaptation are possible. 


Over the past two years, theatre was challenged to build back better, strike a positive work-life balance and embrace DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) values that will revolutionize our industry. Why stop there? There is so much momentum for change right now. Lets take that last step and go all in. With a holistic approach that focuses on people and planet, we can make the theatre industry part of climate solutions starting now.


The green theatre movement is well underway. In the United Kingdom, Julie’s Bicycle “mobilizes the arts and culture to act on the climate and ecological crisis,” and has assisted more than 500 organizations in receiving Creative Green certifications.
In Canada, the Arts and Climate Initiative “uses storytelling and live performance to foster dialogue around the global climate crisis, create an empowering vision of the future, and inspire people to take action.” The Broadway Green Alliance (headquartered in New York City) now has chapters in Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and very recently Minneapolis. 


Here in Colorado, discussions about our roles in taking climate action are slowly taking hold. While some venues have started to include some environmental discussions in regular planning, many have not, and all are unsure what sustainable action looks like. A recycling program, a LEED certification, or donating the set to a high school when the production is over, is still so far from enough. I have seen enough custodial staff empty recycling bins in the trash to wonder if theatres are even recycling at all.


Ideally, businesses including theatres should run on renewable energy. If that feels like a dream, consider instead what can be done right now. We’ll never get where we’re going if we don’t get started.



  • Are you a stage manager? Move to digital scripts, sign-up sheets, and schedules.

  • Are you a musician? Recycle your strings and use digital scores.

  • Are you a performer? Bring your own water bottle and utensils; invest in a reusable coffee cup.

  • Prop shops and carpenters can consider sustainable materials and sourcing before the build rather than just trying to manage the waste after the fact.

  • Wardrobe teams can look for eco-friendly detergents and use cold water in the wash cycle; do we really need those disposable make-up remover wipes?

  • Lighting designers should invest in LED fixtures, which go a long way in reducing energy use.

  • Sound departments can switch to rechargeable batteries to reduce the impact on the environment.

  • Front of house teams are already moving to digital ticketing. If you work within union contracts, advocate for a switch to digital programs —  a fantastic way to reduce waste.

  • And consider implementing a compost program. If Denver’s environmental agencies are successful, the city would switch to paid garbage removal and free recycling/compost by the end of the year as a way to encourage more ienvironmentally friendly services. Be ahead of the curve!


The most important thing to do is get started! Anything and everything you do counts, even if no one observes what you’ve done. The actions of the people that make up an organization or a company influence the decisions and values of that organization. When people in a theatre start to make green choices, the theatre becomes a greener place. These small shifts never stay small for long. They can grow into something bigger if only we choose to start! 


This is just the tip of the melting iceberg. There are so many resources out there and tons of them are things you can start doing today without spending a dime. Check out Broadway Green Alliance’s Greener Reopening Toolkit or the Sustainable Production Toolkit. Become a green captain for your school or theatre (no theatre is too small)! And sign up for our email list to stay up to date with resources, workshops, events, and more.

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