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Wednesday 25 May 2022

Salvaged Set Dressing & A Recycled Floor Show Feature @ Glyndebourne Festival 2022

Glyndebourne Festival 2022 opened with a new production of Ethel Smyth's neglected masterpiece The Wreckers that is a landmark in more ways than one.
Credit Sam Stephenson

The first major, fully professional staging of the opera in our lifetime is also the first production at Glyndebourne to be designed and created following the baseline principles of the Theatre Green Book, which is bringing theatre-makers together with sustainability experts to set common standards for sustainable theatre. 

All four new productions in Glyndebourne's 2022 season will apply the guidelines, with more material reused from stores, and plans for the disposal or reuse of every component agreed in advance with creative teams. 

The Wreckers tells the story of an impoverished and isolated coastal community who survive by salvaging goods and materials that wash up on their beach. 

In an echo of this, and inspired by the drive for greater reuse, Glyndebourne took to local beaches in Sussex to salvage items for set dressing during a series of beach cleans undertaken in partnership with Plastic Seaford and Surfers Against Sewage.

The show floor is made of recycled cargo pallets from the local Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project, set up in 1998 as the first scheme of its kind in the country and committed to finding a way to reuse waste timber.

The wood will be recycled back to the company, once the show reaches the end of its life. 


The Wreckers is also the first production at Glyndebourne to feature costume fabrics dyed using natural dyes made from plants grown in the opera house's famous gardens. 

During 2021, colleagues from the costume department and the garden team collaborated on the development of a new area of the gardens dedicated to growing plants that can be used to create natural dyes for fabric. 

Over time, this will help the costume department to reduce its use of synthetic dyes.

Some of the fabrics used in costumes for The Wreckers were dyed using natural dyes created from plants grown in the Glyndebourne gardens.

Stephen Langridge, Artistic Director of Glyndebourne, said: 

"This production is helping us to reinvent the way we think about making productions at Glyndebourne, an important challenge for us as we continue to work towards our long term goal of becoming carbon neutral in our direct operations. 

"We are recording and documenting the whole process of scenery, costume and prop construction so that our making departments and scenery builders can work out how to go even further, and support the creative teams – directors and designers – to realise extraordinary, breath-taking opera in a sustainable manner." 

Glyndebourne has been working for more than a decade to reduce its environmental footprint and in 2022 celebrates ten years since the launch of its onsite wind turbine. 


by: Mike Cobley




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