Let Us Make Greta Happy, Or It Is Time for Green Art
Last summer, following the then gradual loosening of many Covid-19 restrictions, when the turn came for culture, there was a production titled Greta featured on the summer scene of VILA Štvanice. As the title suggests, the performance playfully thematized climate change and ironically gave shape to a post-apocalyptic world.
It was on the same scene where an act called Šílený Herkules (Mad Hercules) appeared on stage just a few weeks later. It was a modern adaptation of a classical drama—like Greta, very impressive, particularly thanks to the collaboration with the musical duo PAST. In the last moments, the actors poured several barrels of water on stage – or, tens of liters to say the least. That stood in sharp contrast with Greta's cry from the heart.
I had a feeling of déjà vu in early June when I saw the opening performance of the Tanec Praha festival, Graces by Silvia Gribaudi. Even here, the show's ending was marked with the pouring of water on the white baletizol, albeit in a smaller quantity than that of ten liters. And it is these days when thousands of liters of water are gushing out on stage on the New Scene of the National Theater within the frame of “the dance event of the season“ of the Tanec Praha festival, Transverse Orientation by Dimitris Papaioannou.
There is a growing number of people concerned about the environment as the accessibility of drinking water is in decline worldwide. According to the Seametrics server, there exist five main reasons for that, behind most of which lies, among other things, the rise in the world population. The theater scene is none of the five reasons drinking water is becoming less and less accessible. And yet, I believe that, art, as one of the driving forces of a societal change, ought to address this issue – not only via activist renderings, but also via specific events. There is a possibility of taking other steps besides effective recycling of stage props or effort put into using drinking water without waste. For instance, I wish that artists would use non-potable water for effect. If it is not the case, this needs changing. If it is so, artists should advise of their endeavors to work ecology-wise as their policy, thus leading by example.
There were ten tips for a sustainable theater scene conceived by The Guardian years ago, for example. This British journal advised the involvement of all staff that is part of a performance, the use of sustainable or recyclable materials, consideration given to the purchase of energy-saving lighting and rechargeable batteries and to their switching off as much as possible, but also the obtainment of equipment and materials from local sources, among other things.
The tenth point was an appeal for a discussion about the necessary reduction in a carbon footprint on the theater scene so that the audience too could adopt the said good habits. This is what I have just attempted at doing, hoping that others will follow.
Translation: Sylvie Bermannová.
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