Audience members at the Royal Court theatre will be banned from taking in single-use plastic bottles as part of a mission to become a net-zero carbon arts venue in 2020.
The London theatre announced it was scrapping its plan to have a month of performance on the climate emergency. Instead, it said, it would spend the time taking stock to find ways to make the organisation net zero by the end of next year.
That will include examining all aspects of its operations, from lighting and set design to its bar and restaurant and whether someone can take in a single-use plastic bottle of drink.
“It would be banned and I think it’s really important that it is banned,” said the theatre’s artistic director, Vicky Featherstone. “We are not nannying people: when they leave our building they can behave how they want but, actually, I think it is really important that people have to think about how they come in to the space and what it means.
“My feeling about it is we are all in such a dystopian, existential crisis about this real thing that is in front of us, that to be able to go somewhere and to be told … about how to model your behaviours within that building will be a really calming thing for people.”
The theatre announced this year that it would give March 2020 over to work on the climate emergency. But things have changed quickly and the issue is already embedded in the work and thoughts of Royal Court writers, Featherstone said.
“It felt a bit simplistic to be saying we were going to be programming work specifically just for a month around the climate emergency when all the writers are writing about it all the time.
“Instead of filling March with possibly very brilliant monologues about the climate emergency, we are going to stop and take stock and learn how we can, from March onwards, commit to the building becoming net-zero.”
The plan is to make changes in its rehearsal and experimental performance space, Site, which will then be applied to the main building as it transitions to a net-zero arts venue.
A lot of work has been done by arts organisations around the UK to reduce, offset and neutralise climate impact.
The Royal Court initiative arguably takes this to the next level and its executive producer, Lucy Davies, said the theatre would share all of its experiences, “including all the experiments that fail”.
Featherstone said anyone entering the building from March would be contributing to the commitment. “The Royal Court has always been radical and must always be radical and fearless in its approach to the way that the work is made, who makes it and who it is for,” she said. “It feels like we don’t have a decision here; we just have to do it. It has to be now.”
The theatre said more information about public events during Open Court: Climate Emergency (2-20 March) would follow in early 2020.