Theatre Green Book One Toolkit – Site Specific & outdoor touring
25. Outdoor / Site Specific Shows
Choosing a Site
• Careful selection of a site is the most powerful tool for working sustainably. A site with a power supply and running water massively reduces the impact. Being close to a good transport infrastructure significantly reduces the audience’s and the team’s carbon footprint. Consider a shuttle bus to and from the nearest station, for example.
Protecting the Site
• Some sites may be environmentally fragile, or support ecosystems that need protections. In that case it will be necessary to carry out an Ecological Impact Assessment (see next section).
• For all sites, it will be necessary to ensure that the site is left in at least the same condition as it was before the show.
• Still better, a production should be seen as an opportunity to improve ecology and biodiversity, for example by cleaning up waste, removing rubble, improving soil or planting.
• The production may cause damage during the fit-up and get-out. Trees may need to be protected, as will the ground, and the site planned to minimise impact and damage. Particular thought should be given to vehicular access and parking.
• Setting up stages, seating and facilities for a single show is a challenge for sustainability. Ensure everything is hired, and will be reused. Ensure the most sustainable forms of transport are used to deliver and construct facilities. Plan deliveries and collections so that journeys are kept to a minimum and vehicles do not travel half empty.
• Some sites may lack power and other facilities. Fossil-fuel generators are inefficient and polluting and should be treated as the solution of last resort. Ensure that generators are not over specified, so that they are running significantly under capacity. Consider power budgets for each show. Use a smaller generator for the fit-up period when power usage can be more carefully planned. As an alternative, explore connection to existing power supplies, or the use of renewable sources. Make sure water and waste facilities are provided sustainably.
• Remote sites may require a high mileage in transport for deliveries. It is all the more important to streamline deliveries so as to minimise the transport miles associated with the production.
• Outdoor work has opportunities to minimise the energy needed for show lighting or acoustics, by relying on natural light and acoustics.
• Shows in natural settings can connect audiences with local ecologies, strengthen communities, and highlight climate issues.
• Audience transport to remote locations may be a challenge for sustainability. Work with local transport companies to provide public transport links or shuttle buses if possible. Provide facilities for cyclists. Offer shared transport from local towns or villages, using sustainable vehicles.
Ecological Impact Assessments
• Putting on productions in natural settings can have a unique impact, but also risks harming the ecology of those settings, whether through the impact of the show itself, or of bringing an audience to a usually empty landscape.
• Transport, catering, seating, temporary structures and services systems are all capable of harming natural environments.
• If planning a show in such a setting, it is therefore essential first to carry out an Ecological Impact Assessment to determine:
– That no lasting damage will be done.
– What precautionary measures need to be taken to avoid damage.
– What needs to be done after the show to restore – or improve – the ecology and biodiversity of the location.
• Ecological Impact Assessments will measure biodiversity, identify risks, and identify necessary actions. They are typically carried out by professional ecologists, who are members of the Chartered Institute of Ecological and Environmental Management (CIEEM).
• Although mostly aimed at building developers, useful guidance can be found here:
• ‘Advanced’ standard productions should commission an Ecological Impact Assessment for all natural settings.
• If the site or production is targeting ‘Baseline’ or ‘Intermediate’ standard, or does not merit a full-scale Ecological Impact Assessment, it is still essential to consider all aspects of a production’s impact on the site and its surroundings:
– Will it take place during breeding/nesting seasons?
– Will flora or fauna be disturbed?
– Will the added noise or lights disturb wildlife?
– If generators are used, where is the smoke going and can refuelling be managed without spills?
– Farm animals are quite sensitive. Consideration should be given to their welfare as well as to that of local fauna.