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Our Commitment to Sustainability

Wise Children have an active commitment to best practice in environmental sustainability, ensuring that environmental concerns are part of all decision-making, and that all staff members understand and contribute to achieving our goals.

 

We are committed to reducing our carbon impact and have set the following targets for 2024:

  • All core staff trained in Carbon Literacy.

  • Senior Management to complete Pathway to Net-Zero training with a view to our new home, The Lucky Chance, operating at net zero.

  • Continuing detailed carbon footprinting and reporting to better understand our impact and ways to reduce it.

  • Working towards the standards of the Theatre Green Book

  • Sharing our journey and working with peers to be part of revolutionising the industry.

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Productions

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In 2022 we started working towards the baseline standard of the Theatre Green Book. The Theatre Green Book offers guidance on best practice, with the aim of sustainability becoming integral to production processes.

 

We aim to:

  • Embed the Theatre Green Book approach.

  • Set budgets and schedules to support sustainable practice.

  • Eliminate the use of unsustainable and harmful materials.

  • Ensure all new materials are sustainably sourced.

  • 100% of plastics being reusable, recyclable or compostable.

  • 50% or more of materials used in a production (set, props, costumes etc) having had a previous life.

  • 65% of production materials are re-used or recycled post-production.

  • Ensure technical systems are maintained, reused or sustainably returned.

  • Minimise deliveries and opt for sustainable transport options.

Sustainability in Action

Wuthering Heights (2021/22)

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Sustainability: a case study on collaboration, creativity, and costume-making

 

by Monica Bakir, Producer at Wise Children & Anna Lewis, Costume Supervisor for Wuthering Heights

 

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Creating a piece of theatre really is no different. 

 

Wise Children’s Wuthering Heights was born out of a collaboration between multiple multi-disciplinary artists, freelancers, and four theatre companies.  Collaboration in theatre - as in life - is not only vital, but hugely clarifying and rewarding, paving the way for new and dynamic ways of thinking, making and working.

 

This production was made with a deliberate consciousness of mind regarding sustainability; an acute awareness of the role theatres and theatre-makers can play in reducing our collective carbon footprint. Led by the wise and expert hands of both Theatre Designer, Vicki Mortimer, and Costume Supervisor, Anna Lewis, this purpose informed many of our costuming choices. These were inventively approached in various ways, with sustainable practise at the forefront of our minds in the creation of the 50 plus costumes featured in the show.

 

One of our co-producers, The National Theatre, holds a large hire department, bustling and brimming with costumes from hundreds of previous productions. Thousands of items wait in the wings to be rediscovered and redeployed. But it isn’t always that simple. Nowadays, many costume houses will not lend stock to touring companies, as the length of the tour and the repeated cleaning process is too harsh on the life of the garment - the stock is often returned in an unusable state. For our production, we had the very good fortune of being able to borrow many pieces from The National, and in some instances, create brand new items from old pieces. Over half the costumes in this production were borrowed from The National Theatre and just under a quarter were made from scratch, with roughly 25% of those made from second-hand or recycled material. It’s not an exact science, and we’re far from perfect, but we are learning and weaving that learning into our work along the way. We are incredibly grateful to The National for sharing their resources and for collaborating with us. We’re a small theatre company with huge hearts and big dreams, and it isn’t an exaggeration to say that without their in-kind costume support, this production would not have been possible.

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The Leader of the Moors’ costume is a wonderful example of the creative fruits born out of collaborative minds with an eye on sustainability; it was handmade entirely from second-hand and vintage fabric. The skirt was made from a variety of pieces found at antiques markets: fabric from old quilts, embroidered belts, cushion covers, old upholstery and vintage fringe. The pockets were made from two old curtain swags. The jacket was made from an old mattress cover and worn-out blanket, both of which belonged to our much-loved designer, Vicki Mortimer. It is covered with antique and vintage buttons and brooches, all of which were sourced from local markets and charity shops. 

Another example is that of Catherine’s black and white dress. This piece was made from deadstock fabric from an Italian factory. This means that it came from the very end of a roll of fabric which had previously been used by another designer and would have otherwise gone straight to landfill had we not used it. Due to it being deadstock, we were unable to source any more of it - there were only 3.2 metres of it left. The costume maker, Ingrid Pryer, had to be incredibly careful and smart with her cutting of the dress to be able to make it out of such a small piece of fabric. Dresses of this size could easily take 6 or 7 metres of fabric. When she was finished, there was not even a thread of fabric left. She had used every single scrap to make that dress. 

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Little Linton’s costume was pulled from lots of wild and varied pieces from The National Theatre’s collection, designed and constructed from the pink floral shirt outwards. The shirt was too big and was cut down with the excess used to make the ruffles down the front. The pink and green neckties were sewn together to create one giant cravat. The trousers were yellow houndstooth and again, were much too big. They were old Zara, and so our Costume Supervisor, Anna, scoured the internet until she found a smaller pair on Depop. The gold shoes are from eBay. The gold jacket is one of the very few items we bought new, as we couldn’t find the perfect item second-hand. The embroidered smoking hat came from The National, but we added the bright pink elastic and the pink tassel. The hat is, we believe, original vintage, which means it’s extremely delicate. Halfway through the original run in the UK, our wardrobe mistress managed to find another brown-embroidered velvet hat in a charity shop and pieced out the worn-out sections to give it a longer life. Before this run in the US, the floral embroidery had been given a total refresh, all by hand.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which this production, this play that you hold in your hands, has proven to be far greater than the sum of its parts.  At Wise Children, we believe in collaboration, creativity, and a greater good for all.

 

We will keep collaborating and learning, creating, and sharing. But most importantly, we hope to keep collaborating and learning, creating, and sharing with you, our audience.

The Little Matchgirl (2023)

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Each new production, brings with it new energy and the promise of something that has yet to be experienced or seen before. But in a time when reusing and reinventing is at the forefront of our minds, we at Wise Children are acutely aware of the impact and implications that come with a new production.

 

With this in mind we sought to reuse, alter and mend as many of the existing costumes for The Little Match Girl as possible. We fitted, altered, repaired and breathed new life into corsets, jackets, trousers, skirts where possible. Sourcing fabrics and trim locally, to support independent shops in Frome, and cut down on deliveries and CO2.

And joyfully spent hours trawling the Charity shops in the town and surrounding area finding coats, shoes and jackets and Christmas jumpers. Supporting charities and worthwhile causes at time of year when most needed 

 

Theatre has a long history of being resourceful; recycling props, set and Costumes. We at Wise Children celebrate this and work continuously to push ourselves to be more and more conscious of how we can lessen our impact environmentally, but never artistically.

The Lucky Chance

Our journey to net-zero

In 2022 we purchased an old Methodist church in Frome, The Lucky Chance. The Lucky Chance is a home, a space to play, to host, to teach and to perform in. A home which we are committed to developing sustainably, and with the intention of it operating as a net zero building in the future.

 

We are on the pathway to net-zero, a journey which we plan to document and share. 

So far we are:

- 100% electric

- Powered by Ecotricity, providing 100% green energy

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Policy

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