This text is extracted from the Master thesis: Castel, M (2017) Seeking wholeness: An ecoscenographer’s deep journey in and within Nature
“Growing from a degenerative to a regenerative perspective, the framework offers gradual steps to shift from eco-efficiency to positive legacy by shifting our awareness. […] In this context, the artist-designer’s role advances as an ecological and social activist and investigator, who facilitates change by engaging communities (Beer 2016). She holds space, gathering, giving support, and collaborating to develop a sense of belonging within the community leading to transformation.”
“[…] the importance of integrating ‘ecological considerations into all stages of scenography thinking and production’ using sustainability and ecological principles as opportunities rather than limitations (Beer 2016: iii). For example, it would be more logical to focus on the values already existing objects can bring to the scenographic industry, rather than just thinking on reducing waste. […] Its contributive practice integrates transdisciplinary practices with community engagement putting the highlight on creating positive legacies, advancing the designer forward to a more active role of change agent (Beer 2016). This is a crucial progression that scenography must take, not only to reduce our carbon footprint but to step up as a ‘contemporary Art form’ (Garrett in Arons & May 2015).”
“[…] Ecoscenography applies Van der Ryn and Cowan’s notion of Ecological Design strategies (Van der Ryn & Cowan 2007:33) to the performing arts:
✓ Solutions grow from place
✓ Ecological accounting informs design
✓ Design with Nature
✓ Make Nature visible
✓ Everyone is a designer”
1. Ecothinking as foundation
The ecological creative process integrates deep ecology philosophy and ecological principles into all initial stages of scenography leading to inspirational sustainable transdisciplinary and community engagement (Beer 2016:172-175).
2. Place as actant and provocateur
Place and its community is an important factor in creative projects where local resources become unique opportunities (ibid 175-177). ‘Letting go of a priori assumptions, plans, routines and habits as an important component of embracing sustainable practice’ (Kagan 2012, 32-33 in Beer 2016:176).
3. Ecocomplexity challenges assumptions
The different levels of ecological complexity and the interconnectivity between people and the ‘more-than-human-world’ (Abram 1997) challenge preconceived ideas in design processes and must be questioned (Beer 2016:177-179).
4. Ecoscenographers as collaborative change-agents
The ecoscenographer must take on a leadership role catalysing unconventional connections between people of different backgrounds in order to provoke thoughts in others to build socio-ecological awereness and empowerement actions (Beer 2016:179-182).
5. Enduring contributions beyond the event
The value is on the positive legacy that the ecoscenographer leaves behind that helps shaping the future, ‘opening up opportunities for contribution’ (ibid 182-184).
“The principles are to be used in conjunction to the below ‘Ecoscenography trajectory’ (Figure 2.1) demonstrating the steps needed to follow alongside the guiding principles”
“Based on Reed’s integrative ‘Framework for the Whole of Sustainability’, ‘The ecoscenography trajectory’ demonstrates moving towards an ecological worldview: from the limitations of the well-known ‘reuse-reduce-recycle’ mechanistic and materialistic worldview to the more integrative approach ‘rethink-reimagine-regenerate’ that we can adopt in the Performing Arts.
For example, Tanja and I put this approach in practice when I assisted her on Scotland’s first living stage in 2015, Uprooted, an educative and sustainable children performance combining live performance with living plants (Image 2.3a) for which I created the living hats incorporating plants within costume (Image 2.2b). The ‘zero-waste’ recyclable, biodegradable and edible set, created from locally reclaimed materials, and grown plants was set as a permanent feature in one of the school’s playground at the end of the tour (Images 2.2c&d). This outlook looking further than the show production itself, acknowledging the multiple levels of interconnectivity of ecological processes (Beer 2016), inspired me to see scenography with a new eye.
Read the full MA thesis online Castel, M (2017) Seeking wholeness: An ecoscenographer’s deep journey in and within Nature