Greening the Green Room
In the scene shop, OSF assistant technical director Steve Willeby looks over his shoulder at a pallette of compressed blue material. “That’s recycled denim,” he says off-handedly.
Turns out the OSF has an all-volunteer Green Task Force and that it’s got people doing things like buying recycled denim instead of fiberglass to muffle the sounds of actors walking on set floors. The greenies are “grass-roots,” says this year’s Task Force head. That’s Janice Tacconi, OSF safety manager (she who helps figure out when there’s too much lightning, snow or rain to proceed outdoors). Last year, costume designer Deb Dryden headed it, but everyone at OSF has meetings, tasks and anywhere from two to nine plays to work on at the same time, so, Tacconi says, leadership is likely to switch again next year.
Small groups of the 35 or so who show a deep interest meet to work on things like drought-resistant plantings (not on the bricks! The color spots are staying, Tacconi says) or using soy-based ink on recycled/recyclable programs. Then there’s the wine. Patrons drink thousands upon thousands of plastic cups of white or red during the season. Of course, the bottles get recycled, but the cups aren’t recyclable in Ashland — so what about compostable cups? And where would they be composted? Would it be better to have biodegradable corn-based cups even if they can’t be composted in Ashland?
The group created new, clearly marked recycling bins for the theaters and for the actors’ apartment buildings. A production group, which came up with the recycled denim thing, looks for ways to recycle or reuse material or to source materials that don’t use a lot of energy.
In the long-range plan, Tacconi says, are wish-list items like motion-sensor lighting in the offices and parts of the theaters, or hybrid cars for the OSF fleet. Pieces of sets go to high schools or Southern Oregon University, but the scene shop recovers the metal. The wood is trickier, but it might be able to go to a biomass plant, she says.
“This is nobody’s real job,” Tacconi says. “We’re taking baby steps, but we are taking steps.”
In some cases, those steps bounce off of denim.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2009:
Rubble from Styrofoam, Magic from Rotolocks
Theatrical magic at OSF’s ‘art factory’