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This page touches on the theoretical work that runs alongside the project. The full depth of the theory will be explored in the associated written commentary but I have consolidated the general themes and points of interest necessary to understand the basic groundwork of the project.

Historical Practices

Sustainable practice often looks to the pre-consumer era to help sustain our modern consumerist lifestyle. Therefore, I have been researching how theatres worked in this era to find evidence for how modern theatre can adapt to become more eco-friendly whilst still suiting audiences needs. 

These theories help highlight the evidence there is for modern theatre makers to adapt their craft to become more sustainable. It also supports the argument that ‘limitations’ do not always have negative impacts on performance. When faced with issues, theatre throughout time, has always adapted to survive.

Trick Puppetry

In early modern European puppetry there was an abundance of ‘trick’ puppets. A live process of transformation added extra spectacularity. Within live theatre illusion allows audiences to be enchanted. The simple process of lifting up a puppet's skirt to turn it into a hot air balloon is sometimes all that is needed (Jirásek & Jirásková, 2015).

Theatre & The Plague

In England, during the plague epidemic, The Admiral's Company produced an inventive way of allowing their company to succeed despite the crisis. As a result of the smaller company size, the act of disguise allowed them to present new stories to the same audiences again and again without losing any of the enchantment. Their process of disguise also gave them an advantage in their playing success. The disguises they created also aided their need to complete multiple costume changes within each show. The speed of transformation between disguises ultimately made them one of the most successful theatre companies of their time (Gurr, 2009).

Time & Money

Various historical theories discuss the precious nature of clothing and costume in society and theatre. Finding opportunities for reusability and adaptability have always been important historically due to money and time constraints. When clothing was expensive and time consuming to make it was imperative to ensure the item lasted as long as possible through adapting it for new situations. 

Theatre & The Climate Crisis

The climate crisis is a direct result of our greed and materialistic qualities as a species. We are at a crucial turning point in how we react to this risk of global extinction. Living by sustainable means may appear as a limitation, even if self-imposed in response to our own morality, but limitation is an opportunity to explore new creative practices. 


“At its most general the modern sustainability movement is about creating healthy, vital, and enduring systems, whether those systems are fundamentally ecological, economical, or social in nature.” (Johnson, 2009:10)


In response to the rising temperature of the planet the only solution is to attempt to reverse and slow down the effects of global warming through ‘sustainability’. To live sustainably is to create healthy systematic change that improves our  lives for as long as possible (Johnson, 2009:10).

The conversation within theatre has begun to shift under the global pressure to perform sustainably. Sustainable systems are being implemented and artists are beginning to share their ideas for a greener theatre.


As a designer I want to explore how the designing process can implement positive change within theatre costume. Often the conversation is focussed on the waste after costumes have been made. But what if designers could help limit the waste before the show has even started production?

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