Exploring the application of the green movement to the theatre with a focus on the costume shop
Maynard, Natalie Lynn
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Theatre is an art form that combines the art of storytelling with the visual arts. Every production begins with a blank canvas, and it is up to the director and a team of designers to discuss concepts and decide on an artistic vision for the piece. Skilled artisans work quickly as a team to produce the vision of the designer and director. During the production process waste is generated in the scene shop, props shop, costume shop, and rehearsal space. The products that are used to create the design can often contain harmful ingredients for both the artisan and the environment. No longer willing to ignore the responsibility that theatres have as stewards to the environment many artisans are leading the way by exploring safer practices and products. The research for this thesis is focused on the theatrical costume shop and examines dry cleaning, fabric painting and dyeing, and waste disposal. Alternatives to regular dry cleaning practices and commonly used and otherwise toxic products are available for a variety of processes we use in the theatre. For this study I conducted one hundred and sixty five surveys, ten interviews and a quality test amongst the dry cleaning alternatives in Austin, Texas. Three sets of seven different fabric samples were cleaned using the standard solvent and the alternative methods for dry cleaning. Four professional dyers and painters were interviewed about their dyeing process, disposal practices, and the impact that “green” products have on their work. I spoke with two experts working in wastewater about the impact dyes and paints have on wastewater treatment plants. Finally, I conducted an anonymous survey in 2010 to find out what new products or methods are in use amongst costume shop managers, dyers and painters, and production managers.