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  • Tamara von Werthern

blog 3 - our green and pleasant rehearsal room

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

Wow, it’s already our last blog piece on BABY DOLLS as we just finished our R&D of the play last week. Where did the time go?

Cast from left to right: Georgia Nicholson, Melissa Lowe and Kiza Deen

We started the week in the room by creating a green manifesto. It was really a chance to share thoughts and experiences and knowledge around sustainable practice. Danielle Pipe, our environmental consultant had equipped us with ideas and tools on how to collect our data. The most important rule of all was – there should never be any climate shaming and blaming amongst the group. We made it clear from the beginning that everyone’s efforts were appreciated and that we would support each other in doing our best under the given circumstances. And that that might look different for everyone. We decided to all travel in by cycling, walking and public transport, and to record our journeys on, which allows you to work out the carbon footprint of your chosen travel method. It was good to see that nobody used a helicopter, or even a car or motorbike. Our stage manager, who works on a lot of West End shows told us that was by no means the norm, so we already scored high on that front alone.

By talking and sharing our experiences we found out that we all have areas in which we make a particular effort, and others where we haven’t yet thought in detail about our environmental impact. Some of us were vegan, others not, but we made sure all snacks in the room were vegan and we all used oat milk for tea and coffee. By having the shared goal of being as green as possible (without beating ourselves up about the times when this was not possible) certainly changed behaviours and sparked new ideas. One of the cast decided she would start cycling along quiet roads and off-road, and we all consumed no or less meat than usual. It just focused the mind and made you think more about your everyday choices.

We talked about bringing in food from home for lunches, instead of buying it, and to use reusable packaging such as Tupperware and beeswax wraps. Energy and paper usage were discussed and Anna decided to make all her notes directly onto her IPad with ‘Good Notes’ – she discovered that she actually preferred working in that more paper-less way. Greenwich Theatre allowed us the use of the Green Room with kettle, toaster and microwave, and real cutlery, plates and mugs which we could use.

In the event, the cycling route included the Thames clipper one day, to get us across the river with luggage due to the Greenwich Tunnel lift being broken. But I have never had a director debrief on water before and it was wonderfully memorable. In general, Anna and I ended up cycling together for 45 minutes at the end of each day, which was an effective und fun way to talk about the day and plan ahead. It didn’t feel like any extra work, sat for longer in a stuffy rehearsal room when everyone else had left for the day, but an invigorating treat.

We ran into some conflicts when it came to props. At the beginning we had decided to keep these to a minimum, but we soon realised that we needed some things to avoid miming, and also to show the movement of the women and the ‘baby doll’ in the room, as this was quite a choreographed dance, and important as their actions and movements across the room told part of the story. We were in conflict about buying things, we tried to avoid Amazon (but caved in on the insect snacks we then served to our audiences after the show – opinions were divided, but half of the first-time insect consumers were happy, which is not too bad), and our stage manager got a pram on FaceBook Marketplace and somehow ended up having to pretend she was pregnant. The resulting present of a toddler jacket was very welcome by one of our cast, whose son was the exact size for it. Most of the other props we were able to borrow from Greenwich Theatre’s prop and costume department, which was of course ideal, both in terms of practicability and financially (thank you).

Talking about money, I have rarely had a week at work when I spent less money than during that R&D. There was a one-off Thames Clipper fee (£5.70), a coffee (£3.10) one day when I was early and had time to drink it from a proper coffee cup in the café opposite and one emergency brioche bun and crisps on that last day to keep me going (£5), and that was it! Of course, I spent money on the ingredients for my lunches, but it was a pretty cheap and fairly waste-free week.

Another thing we tried in an attempt to serve some delicious sweet treats to our audiences was sign up to the ‘Too Good to Go’ app. Both Anna and myself reserved a bag from the promisingly-named Sugar Café at Sugar Studios in Greenwich. I raced over on my bike, getting lost a few times, and nearly ending up on the motorway, and when I finally found it in the middle of an industrial park, it was shut and had been shut all day. Some people from the Sugar Studios called around, but couldn’t track anyone down. Disappointed, but curiosity piqued, I returned to the theatre empty-handed.

I could not let that be the only experience of what sounds like such a great idea, namely paying a small sum for so-called surprise bags, and picking them up at a designated hour from participating shops or cafés. I did it again today and this time the experience was brilliant. I got a huge bag of fruit and veg for about £3.50 and a bag with sourdough bread, a filled focaccia and toasted sandwich as well as a piece of cake for £4. Feeding the entire family on less than a tenner has become near impossible, and I will certainly do that again. The food was extremely good, there were only a few veg slightly crinkled, and the bread is absolutely fine when toasted.

But maybe the best thing of starting the week with our manifesto was that we immediately began sharing details of ourselves and our lives and getting to know each other by being united in a shared goal. I have rarely had a week that was so full of laughter, joy and connection with this room full of extraordinary women. The show was brilliant too, but the work on the play during the week, and getting to know the world of it through the generosity of our cast and team was something I will never forget.


Want to learn more about climate awareness and how you can develop your writing skills with green practises in mind?

Join us for this new Zoom workshop held by Tamara von Werthern, published author and playwright, to find and explore ways to increase climate awareness in your creative practice.


(Free spaces are available - please email us to find out more


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