By Joanne Greenwood, Theatre Manager and Production Designer
Here at Bedales we have always embraced the circular economy when it comes to productions. Reuse. Remake. Recycle. As with many theatres, we have a wardrobe which houses an extensive collection of clothing and accessories, and a prop store built up over the past 25 years.
With the global trend towards sustainably lockdown saw the creation of the Theatre Green Book. The Theatre Green Book gives theatre a path towards sustainability. It maps the journey towards a way of theatre-making that is low carbon and low waste, values people, and contributes to a more sustainable society.
The design brief we set ourselves for the Whole School Show 2021 was to honour 25 years of Bedales Olivier Theatre and to take part in the Theatre Green Book initiative in creating sustainable productions.
When designing any show, I consider what we have available to see what can be reused or adapted. Where possible, purchases are made on the basis that items have a future life and are considered an investment.
Many costumes in the wardrobe are used time and again, especially period costumes, but for a production to have an original and cohesive design there will always be adaptions and new costumes to be made. For Tales from Ovid (2021) we selected costumes from previous productions which hadn’t been used again and reinterpreted them in a new way to reflect the various tales.
The school pinafores from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (2007) formed the basis of the design for the Echo and Narcissus tale with collars made from remnants of fabric we had in stock. The Tereus and Philomela chorus wore jackets from Spring Awakening (2017), skirts from Les Misérables (2004) and boots from Me (2017). The male chorus jackets from Oedipus (2008) were used for the Midas tale with the hi top trainers from Around the World in 80 Days (2019).
The costumes in Jane Eyre (2006) were historically accurate in shape but the design concept was that all the costumes were various shades of red and therefore not realistic to how they would have been worn in the period. Worn by the Bacchic chorus in Bacchus and Pentheus with bare feet, ivy headdresses and doe eye make-up they paid tribute to the Sixth Form production of the Bacchae (1998).
The production also gave us the opportunity to use some memorable character costumes from the past:
Juno; Dress originally designed for Medea in Medea (2016)
Jupiter; Suit worn by The Prince in Sound of the Night Feather (2015)
Procne; Dress worn by Jocasta in Oedipus (2008), originally designed for Gertrude in Hamlet (2003)
Over 95% of the costumes from Tales from Ovid came from our wardrobe stock.
“Everyone in theatre starts their career by creatively stretching resource as far as possible. All theatre-makers are experts in sustainability. To the challenge of responding to the climate emergency, theatre is already bringing resourcefulness, dynamism and creativity.” – Theatre Green Book
Last Friday the Professional Guidance department hosted a Beyond Bedales Sustainability careers talk, which involved five very influential people.
James Bidwell, co-owner of Re_set and owner and Chair of Springwise, spoke to us about the sustainability changes he is helping businesses to make. Re_set is an organisation that helps businesses reset themselves for the future. James’ job is to help create strategies to help transition the companies from linear fossil fuels businesses into much more eco-friendly companies thinking about the circulatory use of all their products.
Kemi Williams is the Development Director at the British High Commission in Tanzania, and she spoke to us about her role in the Department of International Development. She works in developing countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and currently Tanzania. She works on distributing the money that is given to their government from richer countries such as Britain to help these developing countries in a sustainable way. This means that she finds solutions to ensure that once the money is no longer being fed into their economy, the country is able to survive on its own.
Emma Cusworth works for the Green Finance Institute, where she is responsible for driving the organisation’s strategic brand and communication activity. She follows her own philosophy through a very fascinating story which was concluded with the lesson: work in alignment, everyone moving in the same direction, working together to make actions faster and less tiresome, something which the world needs to realise today in order to resolve the huge dilemmas with lack of sustainability on our planet. She also emphasised the importance of finance in our world, and how drastically finance needs to change in order to make more sustainable ways of life more profitable than fossil fuels, as right now that is not the case.
Roxy Rocks-Engleman has her hands in many different places, all associated with sustainable development. She is currently the Sustainability Manager for Cafédirect, a company empowering smallholder farmers. The company also set a charity to help smallholder growers in its network and has now helped an incredible amount of 1.3 million smallholders. Roxy emphasised all the incredible changes that are being made. Global supply chains have currently never been closer together, joining forces to make many opportunities that will surprise us and help us work towards something more positive.
Scott Emerson was also part of the lecture, telling us about the changes that are occurring in fashion and how there are so many sustainable ways in which to delve into the fashion world. Having been thrown into the industry through horrible high consumerism and unsustainable fashion trends he decided to research into eco-friendly ways in which to change this, finding extremely fascinating solutions such as plant dying. He recently used this newfound talent of plant dying in London’s Fashion Week, spreading awareness to the public that new changes must be made to allow our world to attain more positive and sustainable products in the world’s second worst polluting industry.
Overall, the lecture was extremely fascinating and opened the students’ eyes to how sustainability is relevant in any job and career that one wishes to follow.
Next Friday, the Professional Guidance team are hosting the next Beyond Bedales event in the Reading Room at 6.30pm. This time our guest speakers are involved in careers in sustainability, an area many Bedalians are keen to explore.
The panel comprises a mix of Old Bedalians and current parents: Emma Cusworth (Director of Corporate Affairs, Green Finance Institute); Kemi Williams (Department of International Development); James Bidwell (Co-founder/Chair of B Corps, Re_Set and Springwise; Roxy Rocks-Engelman (Sustainability Manager, Cafédirect) and Scott Emerson (Fashion Design BA graduate at Istituto Marangoni; plant dyed, biodegradable fashion). Read more about the panel members below below.
The event is open to all students and we would strongly encourage anyone interested in pursuing a career in the sustainability sector to attend. There will be a Q&A session after the guests have spoken.
Kemi Williams (Current Parent and Old Bedalian) – Department of International Development
Kemi Williams is the Development Director at the British High Commission in Tanzania. She joined the team in Dar es Salaam from her previous position as Deputy Development Director in Kinshasa. Previously Kemi was the Deputy Head of the DFID Pakistan office and has also been Human Development team leader in DFID Nigeria and Country Director for Girl Hub in Nigeria and Rwanda.
Kemi has over 30 years’ experience of development work in various countries including DRC, Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, Pakistan and now Tanzania.
She has a first degree in Development Studies from the University of East Anglia, a Masters of Arts (MA) degree in Gender and Development from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at Sussex University and a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Public Policy and Management from the University of Birmingham. She is married with two grown up children.
Her profile can be viewed on LinkedIn and she would like you to follow her on Twitter.
James Bidwell (Current Parent) – Re_Set
James Bidwell is co-founder of Re_Set, a leading next-generation strategy consultancy for innovation and sustainability whose mission is to ensure its clients thrive in a disrupted world. Re_Set empowers and equips businesses and governments to make a positive global impact and create a new vision of success. He is also the owner and Chair of Springwise, the world’s largest source of global innovations. Committed to positive change, Springwise is essential reading for CEOs, innovators, investors, educators and corporates from all sectors. Both companies are members of 1% for the planet and certified B Corporations, part of a growing community of businesses committed to redefining the role of business in society as a force for good.
James specialises in leading positive and transformational change in business and has held many Board level and CEO roles. He outlines his philosophy in his book, Disrupt! 100 Lessons in Business Innovation, published by Hachette and now an Amazon best seller. He was listed in the Financial Times Creative Business Top 50, and named as one of London’s 1000 most influential by the London Evening Standard. During his time as Marketing Director at Selfridges, he was described as the “ring master extraordinaire” and “a theatrical agitator”.
James is also a high-profile speaker and commentator. He speaks regularly on navigating disruption, the rapid pace of change, the role of innovation in helping solve the climate crisis and how to achieve cultural shift. He is a visiting lecturer at the University of Bristol and Cambridge Judge Business School, a participant in the London Business School Innovation and Entrepreneurship programme, and committee member and judge at the World Retail Congress and mentor at Red Bull Amaphiko Academy.
Committed to protecting and securing the future of the natural world, James chairs the UK Steering Committee for 1% for the Planet, an international organisation, whose members contribute at least one per cent of their annual sales to environmental causes.
Emma Cusworth (OB) – Green Finance Institute
Emma Cusworth joined the Green Finance Institute in January 2021 as director of corporate affairs, where she is responsible for driving the organisation’s strategic brand and communications activity. Emma is also leading the GFI’s collaboration with the City of London Corporation on GHS@COP26, a hybrid 5-day platform for mobilising private finance in the transition to net zero.
Emma has 20 years’ international experience in strategic communications, content and integrated marketing for financial services firms with a particular focus on sustainability. She joined the Green Finance Institute from Lombard Odier Investment Managers (LOIM), where she was head of strategic communications. She spent three years at LOIM, which included a one-year secondment to its dedicated sustainable investment team focusing on communications and stewardship.
Prior to this, Emma spent 10 years as a freelance financial journalist specialising in sustainable investment. She regularly contributed news and feature articles to leading publications including the Financial Times, IPE, Financial News, Portfolio Institutional and Professional Pensions and developed her own sustainability-related blog, The Responsible Capitalist. Emma started her career in corporate communications and investor relations within a number of leading consultancy firms.
Emma has lived and worked in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and East Africa, and read Management Sciences at U.M.I.S.T., University of Manchester.
Roxy Rocks-Engleman (OB) – Cafédirect
Roxy Rocks-Engelman is the Sustainability Manager for Cafédirect and Chair of the British Coffee Association’s Sustainability Committee. Roxy has a Masters in Sustainable Development and has worked with mission-led businesses that work with cooperatives in both the FMCG and garment sector. Cafédirect is a UK based, coffee company, which was set up as a social enterprise to empower smallholder farmers. Cafédirect was the first coffee brand to be Fairtrade certified and was also the first UK Coffee company to certify as a B Corporation. Cafédirect purchases coffee directly from 20 coffee cooperatives in Latin America and East Africa and has smallholder growers on their Board. Cafédirect set up a charity, Producers Direct in 2009, which is now an independent charity that is farmer-led and has over 1.3 million smallholder growers in its network.
Scott Emerson (OB) – Fashion Design BA Graduate at Istituto Marangoni; plant dyed, biodegradable fashion
Scott Emerson graduated in June 2021 at Istituto Marangoni with a First Class Honours in Fashion Design BA. He was selected amongst the Top 10 best fashion designers of his course and was given the opportunity to showcase his 6-look menswear collection at London Fashion Week Sept 2021.
Scott has always been fascinated with the relationship between fashion and identity. He was interested in exploring post-war youth rebellion subcultures and how each subculture has a striking visual aesthetic. Their personality was reflected in their style. In 2021, fashion has become so fluid with mix and matching so he feels sole character is lost – we have been exposed to high consumerism and fashion trends.
Plant dyeing started out as a hobby in the first lockdown. He used various plants from his back garden and kitchen from acorns & spinach to avocado & onions. During that summer, Scott joined an Artist in Residency programme at Gallery NK in Kensington, where his inspiration turned towards waste and trash around London. He then began to fuse this with subculture fashion and plant dyeing when going into his 3rd year at university and from then on he used plant dyeing throughout his entire collection.
The whole school community has been doing more to reuse, reduce and recycle in the wake of the climate change campaign that has been dominating the streets and the media, drawing attention to the urgency of the global changes that need to be made.
Bedales hosted a ‘Funeral for the Planet’ earlier this year, where a climate emergency was announced. The event was organised by Bedales Head of Geography Paul Turner, who became one of the UK’s first United Nations-accredited climate change teachers. Bedales’ Geography department has also recently launched the UK’s first climate breakdown scheme of work, collaborating with other teachers and organisations.
Following this, a group of 60 students joined a climate change protest in March, marching from Parliament Square to Buckingham Palace and were encouraged by the amount of support they received from tourists, construction workers and even police officers. Students took part in more protests in Petersfield and in London, with a small group attending a symposium on climate change at the London School of Economics. A number of speakers were present including Lord Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, who addressed the question of, ‘What should individuals, communities, schools and universities do to stop climate change?’
On Monday evening, we were very lucky to have Patrick Holden, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Food Trust, visit Bedales to give a fascinating talk. Patrick spoke of his life as a dairy farmer in West Wales and his early work with the Soil Association, before talking about the aim of the Sustainable Food Trust, the patron of which is the Prince of Wales.
The Sustainable Food Trust works to “accelerate the transition to more sustainable food and farming systems that nourish the health of both people and planet”. They work with government organisations and individuals to audit and fight for more sustainable food and farming systems. Their latest project is a collaboration with Richard Dunne called The Harmony Project, which seeks to apply the principles of nature and interconnectedness with education.
Patrick wanted to highlight the complicated nature of every choice we make – the hidden cost of food. He spoke of the benefits of grass-fed beef and lamb, both for our health and for our environment. He also spoke of sheep farmers in Wales who are now building huge chicken sheds where there would have once been grassland, as consumers mistakenly believe buying chicken is better for the environment than lamb. Those chickens are fed a concentration of soya and grain shipped in from all around the world and live short, miserable lives in giant sheds. We as consumers are completely unaware of the implications of our food choices – the ‘plant based’ food trend as pernicious as the one consumers think they need to avoid, with large multinational companies making huge sums of money from our desire to eat more sustainably.
By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work, and Feline Charpentier, Teacher of Outdoor Work
From September 2020, students in 6.1 will be able to choose a new Outdoor Work (ODW) course as one of their sixth form options. ‘Living with the Land’ is a two-year course which will equip students with the practical skills to live lightly off the land, enabling them to look at the wider context for the issues surrounding the environment and our impact upon it. Living with the land around us means having a greater awareness of our environment, living with the seasons, trying to reduce our footprint and applying our new-found knowledge to other aspects of our lives and the community.
It is a natural progression from all aspects covered in the ODW BAC, however it goes into far greater depth and includes significant self-directed work, including a portfolio and a ‘major’ project in the final year. There is currently no clear pathway for a student wishing to take a more practical course at sixth form in environmental subjects. The closest comparable courses are Countryside Management, Food Skills, Sustainability or the planned Natural History GCSE. No courses combine traditional building, cooking and craft skills with aspects of ecology, sustainability and community.