Education Section – Educators’ Notes

Sustainable Productions: Additional Toolkit for Educators

Planning a course 

• Write sustainability aims into the course as an assessable element

 • Deliver lectures about sustainability by core staff and guests.

• Find out what measures other courses are taking and see if there is scope for collaboration around sustainability

• Encourage your organisation to order materials across different courses to reduce deliveries.

• The end of year graduate exhibition is often as big as any of the production. Consider having a reusable physical exhibition that can be adapted from year to year.

Green Production Agreement 

Each Institution will want to address the agreement slightly differently- some will want to use the wording in their formal contracts with freelancers, others will simply draft their own version of the template.

For student agreements, consider having a virtual agreement on their learning platform, or simply verbally agree to work within the principles of the Green Book in a module introduction or delivered session.

Whilst a student can agree to work this way to the best of their ability- there will be things that they simply aren’t in control of, and it is important that this doesn’t cause them extra concern or anxiety. 

Establish an official forum for them to voice any concerns regarding sustainable practice (Production Meetings/ Group Tutorials/ Year Meetings etc, whatever works for your institution) to ensure that their concerns are heard and discussed and possible solutions considered. 

Any unresolved issues can be addressed in de-briefs or most importantly in their reflective written work at the end of the show, and future solutions suggested.

Information for Teams 

Creating furniture and props inventories at the beginning of term can be an excellent task for 1st  years. Not only will they discover what is available but it also ensures that the lists are updated regularly.

Make sure that any contact lists that are made with local schools and businesses regarding re-use of items etc are live documents and readily available to make sure relationships are built on, and don’t end when your 3rd years leave with the information! 

Many of the material and consumable inventories will be conducted by staff in educational settings, but make sure these are visible for the students to take into account for show ordering.

Whilst it may not be neccessary to do whilst actually a student, many theatre workplaces will increasingly offer Carbon Literacy Training, so it may be useful to make students aware of what this is.

Green Captains 

Student ‘Green Captains’ are Student Sustainability Representatives: committed individuals able to offer advice and encouragement to others wresting with sustainability challenges. They’re in touch with ‘Green Captains’ in the theatre industry, who provide the same service to theatre professionals.

Make sure that your student Green Captain works closely with your staff Sustainability Champion to ensure mutual support and a shared purpose.

More on Green Captains here.

Carbon Calculators 

Whilst it is important for students to understand what a carbon calculator does and how it works, it may be unnecessary for them to fully explore this while they are still students depending on your course.

Perhaps this could be introduced at level 6 or 7 once the student has an overview of the production process from start to finish.

In the meantime, it’s best to concentrate on learning to use the Production Tracker, which can be downloaded from the Sustainable Buildings Toolkit.

Budgeting 

This will be really varied depending on your course and institution, but usually the budgetary responsibility is limited for students. 

The basic concept of ‘Spend Less on materials, more on people’ works well in educational setting as generally educational organisations have the (student) labour but limited financial resources. 

As educational institutions don’t pay for most of their workforce, they are in a great position to make this work!

Scheduling 

This will be slightly different for educational settings as the students may join the production process after the Final Design Meeting (unless you are a Design course). Where possible try to allocate time for some students to be present at the Green Card Meeting, so that they can observe the discussions at this stage. 

One of the biggest challenges that we will have as educators will be timetabling the extra time required for additional stages in the process such as a longer procurement and returns period. Encourage the students to make a note of this and reflect on it in their written work, as this can feed into next year’s planning.

Production Tracker

The Production Tracker in the Sustainable Buildings Toolkit was originally developed with help from a GSA design student. It’s the basic tool being introduced across the profession. Consider going through examples and then splitting them up in groups to explore the props, furniture or costume store and generating their own documents.

The Production Tracker can also be used as an assessment tool for scoring student choices. 

Meeting, Sharing, Reviewing

Eventually Sustainability will be an embedded part of the production process like H&S has become. However to encourage dialogue and ensure that students have an opportunity to flag things up in production meetings, it is suggested that ‘Sustainability‘ is added as a rolling agenda point at all production meetings for the time being.

Additionally tutorials and 1:1 s with tutors are a great opportunity to go through ‘sustainability assessments’ with the students and support them to explore alternatives. Most importantly however it will give an opportunity to and reassure them if something can’t be changed.

Make sure that the students understand that this is a trial, and that the information they gather will help to inform future work towards a more sustainable industry.

Modelling Tools and CAD 

Use biodegradable materials where possible. If the students learn to make models using these materials, they will undoubtably continue to use them once they join the industry and potentially introduce them to other professionals.

Workshop Guidance 

Encourage your Green Captain to have a line of communication with whoever is in charge of buildings and maintenance etc at your institution. There will probably be a member of the estates staff with a specific remit of attaining eco-campus status for the institution and they will welcome evidence of sustainability measures being carried out.

The student voice can often influence big changes such as switching to renewables, ensuring proper recycling and using eco cleaning products.

Reuse and Recycling

Start a collection point for clean takeaway containers, plastic milk cartons and microwave meal trays. If all the students contribute regularly you will never have to buy small paint containers for the workshop again!

Modular Design 

Include an introduction to these systems into your Set Construction and Design Lectures

Making for Disassembly

In order for us to train our students in the techniques necessary for 21st century sustainable set production this is a key skill to embed early on.

Where possible teach fastening methods that can be disassembled over permanent fixings.

   Wellbeing: Ten Easy Wins for Educators

    • Make sure that the students are aware of all the wellbeing services that are available at your institution. They may need reminding every term, as often information overload means that they forget what is available.
    • Discuss the importance of batch cooking and freezing decent food before a busy production period. It seems obvious but young people often need reminding of the importance of healthy eating.
    • Don’t let anyone work through lunch- even if they want to! This includes staff- lead by example.
    • Discuss the importance of proper sleep during busy show periods. Young people may think that alcohol helps them relax, but it actually inhibits a deep and restful sleep.
    • Take the ‘indispensable’ pressure that students feel during shows by introducing the ‘Tech Swing’ role. This should be seen as a very key role, that needs an experienced all-rounder to step in and cover a member of the crew if necessary.
    • Protect the Green Room / Crew Room as a safe place to relax for production students during show periods. Don’t allow it to be used as extra storage/ changing etc. They need to have a place to sit down and eat a sandwich in relative peace!
    • Encourage the students to go outdoors at break and take in some fresh air and sunlight. Working in a black box all day is a challenging for everyone, particularly young people.
    • If a student is stressed, suggest a walk around the block. Endorphins and fresh air are the best way to brings things back into perspective.
    • Make sure that there are ‘Mental Health First Aiders’ in all buildings at all times There should ideally be as many if not more than physical first aiders.
    • Remind them that whilst it is important to work hard and be resilient- it is only a show! It isn’t life and death and if they need to step away ‘The show WILL go on’ with or without them!