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Seasons For Change – Treading Lightly In Old Shoes by Simon Wainwright

29th June 2021 by Morven Macbeth

As part of Seasons for Change a UK wide cultural programme inspiring urgent and inclusive action on climate change, and as part of ITD’s ongoing commitment to tread more lightly on the planet, co-artistic director Simon Wainwright reflects on where the company is at, as we begin making a new mid-scale touring show.

Treading Lightly In Old Shoes

‘When we became an NPO four years ago, the company very quickly expanded its list of administrative tasks – nothing grows faster than bureaucracy when you are given public funding – and my naturally rebellious/cantankerous side presumed this to be the death of art. An unnecessary hinderance to the already difficult process of making the work. I was wrong. The expansion of voices and advice and the time to discuss the pros and cons of many areas of the company has enriched us and, in a time when we’re making more and more politically driven work, made us face uneasy but vital questions about the way we move through the world. One of those questions is how do we do our bit to tackle the climate crisis.

The answer should be simple I suppose: do whatever it takes to halt your part in our creep towards midnight. But, as with most things, it seems that it’s not that straightforward.

And so we’re moving through a process of working out what to change and analysing the areas in which we’re doing badly. We are a company who for 20 odd years have made work in various parts of the world (bad), using big projectors and lights (bad), with sets built to last for only the duration of a show (bad), and that have often toured to various countries using air travel (very very very bad).

Ok. Ok. So the obvious answer is stop. Do something else. But then what happens to the positives? The affirmations and vital discussions I feel we’ve been part of. What happens to the cross border dialogues, the bringing together of communities for winter festivals, the shaking an angry fist at the world, the inspiring of young minds, the breaking of bread with those who are not like you in any number of countries we’ve been lucky enough to work in?

We’ve adopted a phrase which is “tread lightly”. It’s not ours, we’ve just taken it from some other bright spark. It’s not “don’t tread”, it’s “tread lightly”. And I’m sorry to say it’s not easy in our sector but we’re determined to try and be part of the discussion about how to do it. We can’t stop everything we do which is “bad” without stopping everything we do which we feel is “good”. But we can do a lot.

We can start to share stock and tech, in a more structured way. We can only travel when necessary to show the work, not just because we fancy it. We can try to recycle our old sets. Reuse reuse reuse. Don’t order a million boxes from amazon at ten to five because you’re not sure how the show ends. We can keep talking and looking for new ways to tread more lightly.

Our footprint is tiny compared to many but still, it’s a footprint and we need to do our best to ensure that it fades away when the time comes. It’s just harder than I thought it would be.’

Simon Wainwright

June 2021

Photograph by Sodium

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