The Greening of Opera Erotique


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All of the artists who are working on Opera Erotique have agreed to let sustainability guide the way we create this fantastic vision we want to share with you. Our primary goal as artists is to bring the world of Opera Erotique to the stage for you. As individuals and researchers at York University we have another goal; Many people just like us try to interact with the world in a sustainable manner, however we have noticed that for the sake of art these practices stop at the loading door of a theatre. We are making a conscious choice to find ways to not let that happen. Art should not be so grand a thing that it supercedes what the world needs, it should be so grand that it recognizes and bows to that need. The choices we are making are simple ones like we are reducing the amount of scenography required with the use of projections and also in the amount of electricity we use for our lighting by using cutting edge lighting technology. We are reusing as many pieces of scenery and costume as possible, finding ways to alter them using techniques that stay away from as many toxic substances as possible. For instance only sustainably harvested lumber is being used in this production. We are also recycling materials from previously built and demolished shows. Please join us for Opera Erotique and celebrate a locally produced work of art that has the added benefit of being sustainably harvested!
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My design work in theatre has always been based in ‘green’ theatre practice and relied heavily on the use of digital light projected on re-usable materials to create atmosphere and scenography as required by the art. This was as much driven by economic necessity as by any sense of ecological consciousness.

The ‘Greening’ of Opera Erotique, offers the ultimate challenge: to create a lighting/set design that uses only the newest, most efficient LED lighting and sustainable theatre practice. While the use of LEDs are becoming more common in lighting design for the stage as washes, we will be attempting to light the entire production without conventional, inefficient, incandescent fixtures.

Like our current work, the original production of Opera Erotique was mounted in a small, multi-purpose venue in Victoria, B.C. in 2004. I co-designed sets with Miles Lowry, and designed projections/media/lighting for the original production and subsequent tour. Those early designs were already extremely low ‘carbon footprint’, but this research will demonstrate how far we have progressed in our ability to meet the most stringent environmental guidelines in just six short years.

Having the ‘green’ expertise of designer/educator James McKernan on the project has brought to light new and exciting ways of thinking about set design; and indeed, our entire creative process. Having designed the earlier productions, my ability to produce a ‘comparison carbon footprint’, together with critical reviews of the art, will provide material for productive discussion, teaching, and further research into the use of ‘green technologies’ on stage.