About the Program
How it started...
Big Green Theater came out of a desire to create a program that brought local kids into our theater and offer them a unique and interactive learning opportunity in the neighborhood. We knew that we wanted to work with kids to create plays, but we also wanted to incorporate another element to make the program more specific. While attending monthly meetings with our local Community Board 4, we noticed a desire for improved neighborhood conditions both in terms of environment and health issues within the community. This echoed our own interest in running a sustainable theater space, which over the years has grown to include an ultra-efficient LED worklight system (3D printed!), use of sustainable energy sources like wind and hydro power, recycled production materials, and green cleaning supplies. We decided to merge these two ideas and create a program that would teach kids about environmental issues and science while asking them to create their own plays to spread the message. Professional actors would then perform these plays at our theater for the students and their families and the productions would be produced according to the tenants of Green Theater.
How it works...
Every year, our theater conducts a 3-month long after school program with local public school kids in Bushwick / Ridgewood to create short, original plays about community-based environmental topics.
These short plays are then performed by a group of professional actors, on a full technical scale, at the Starr during the month of April. The kids are invited to participate in aspects of creating the shows, and can observe the process of using eco-friendly approaches to making theater. They are also, of course, able to see their writing performed live by adult professionals, and enjoy the fulfillment of seeing their work realized.
Our theater works with an assembly of professional actors, directors, and designers to stage the student’s plays for a weekend-long public performance run. We ask these professionals to challenge themselves to work within the Green Theater movement; i.e: use recycled materials for sets, LED lighting, etc. This process educates our artists about how to make work while thinking green. In turn, the students observe the use of eco-friendly approaches to making theater, and continue to think creatively about re-directing activities in an environmentally friendly way.
The festival performances are free and open to the public.
Why we do it...
One of our goals is to create opportunities for arts education in Bushwick where there is a need for creativity-based programs inside and outside of our local schools. We believe that arts organizations like ourselves have a responsibility to invest in future generations by providing them not only with first hand experience in creative endeavors, but with opportunities for artistic expression.
By making BGT an interactive process, we know that it will have an effect on the artists involved as well as the student playwrights, their families, and those who see the performance. Part of The Bushwick Starr’s mission is to help create and foster a bond between community groups and arts centers, and to encourage neighborhood interaction in order to preserve the culture and history of the Bushwick community.