The play's called Earthquakes in London but it could shake things up for New Zealand theatres.

Because it's about the breakdown of society and environmental catastrophe, producers Last Tapes Theatre Company and performers from The Actors Program have gone green.
It means no disposable coffee cups or water bottles, sushi for lunch if you've got your own container to put it in, using second-hand equipment rather than buying new and, for cast and crew, making more effort to use public transport or car pool. They're even monitoring the amount of rubbish they throw away.

But they've gone beyond more obvious environmentally friendly actions to ensure cultural and social sustainability is also considered.

Director Katy Maudlin says that's about being an inclusive and equal opportunity organisation and ensuring there are chances for everyone associated with the production to meet and be involved in activities around it.


Now they want those environmental, cultural and social measures to endure beyond this 10-day production.

They've started Lifecycle, a set of initiatives other theatre, dance and musical companies and creative industry organisations can use - and possibly add to - to ensure they're working sustainability. The team will work with Actors' Equity and other performing arts groups to share ideas and ensure there's more awareness about the issues.

"How we treat the world and how we make things work better for it and all of us are among the most important ethical conversations of our time," says Last Tapes' Robin Kelly. "We want to do more than raise vigilance and awareness; we want to ensure we're playing an active role."

Kelly acknowledges tight budgets often mean those in the arts already recycle and reuse as much as they can. There's already a Theatre Trade and Exchange Facebook page, where sets and theatre equipment can be traded, but the Earthquakes team want the ethos to become a part of every production.

He says it made for an interesting situation when, rather than buying a new handsaw, he decided to walk to a friend's and borrow one. He ended up walking through town, with the saw clearly visible because he didn't want to carry in a plastic bag.

"I thought, 'could this be classed as carrying a weapon?'"

Maudlin and Kelly say they hesitated when staging a play about climate change, fearing that while we've all been warned about climate change, no one is listening. However, they say the play humanises the issues by linking them to the breakdown of the characters' relationships.

Written by Mike Bartlett, the man behind the hit TV series Doctor Foster, Earthquakes in London follows three sisters, and their descendants, from 1968 - 2525. Their father, convinced global catastrophe is imminent, urges them not to have children. When one sister becomes pregnant, he cuts all ties with her.

"She's left quite isolated and this highlights social breakdown and the atomisation of society and relationships," says Maudlin. "We've created a chill-out area outside of the theatre where people can just sit and talk and that's kind of sustainability because it's about encouraging and building social ties."

What: Earthquakes in London
Where & when: Basement Theatre, November 15 - 25