© Paul L. McGowan
Tenderfoot Theatre Ltd is a young, queer, and female-led eco-theatre company based in Lancashire. Combining climate activism with dynamic storytelling, we use a range of creative sustainable methods to ensure our productions are compostable, carbon neutral, and eco-focused.
From second-hand fabrics to natural dyes, our costumes are created with a steadfast ethos: they must have a purposeful life before us, with us, and long after us. We say no to fast fashion and cheap, toxic materials, and say yes to home-grown natural materials and reusability.
We get experimental with our materials, finding new ways to make costume from waste products - such as kombucha tea SCOBY, which we cure into a plant based leather. SCOBY is not only a by-product, but completely natural and packed full of healthy bacteria - allowing our costumes to go on the compost heap and enrich the soil when they are done being worn.
We dye our costumes using natural dyeing methods - from coffee grounds to onion skins, and ensure all our materials are ethically sourced, and we're never afraid to get thrifty - borrowing what we can and buying second hand. Our design process starts at the end - ensuring a sustainable second life is assured for every piece of costume we create
Our sets are built to be dismantled - ensuring easy touring using public transport, and allowing individual materials to go on and find new purpose in an uncompromised state. We pledge to never use toxic materials in our set designs, and to always design with resource conservation in mind. Our recent set for IMPACT, which included 800 litres of donated waste soil, bark, and plant matter, is now in compost bins back at TFHQ, breaking down into usable compost to be distributed across local permaculture farming projects. Any man-made materials we use also go on to have second life, with our protective tarpaulins set to become liners for indoor native flower planters.
The Tenderfoot rehearsal room is a place to embody the values we'd like to see in a healing world - we break bread, build community, and are committed to increasing diversity, equality, and friendship.
Where we can, we rehearse in the daylight to conserve energy. Our scripts are compostable, and sometimes even plantable by utilising seed paper packed with native flowers, which can be simply returned to the ground when the production is over.
We aren't lucky enough to own our own building (yet!), and so have little control over the tech rigs providing the light and sound to our touring productions. To combat this - we only tour to venues that can guarantee the usage of LED lighting rigs (which save significantly more energy than the use of halogen bulbs), and decibel caps on sound to ensure minimal noise pollution.
We will only turn on the rig when it is required, and are big fans of a dark hour: a full power-down an hour before doors open to ensure conservation of energy.
We plan minimal lighting states, and use natural light wherever we can - there's no better light than the sun!
When touring, we use public transport wherever we can, but if we do have to drive we make sure to car-share. We travel light (as our shows are designed to be) to ensure public transport remains a viable option for our touring productions. We pledge to only tour to venues that are able to provide a sustainability policy or pledge, and are on hand to work with venues in developing and strengthening their sustainable practices.
We are advocates of rural touring - ensuring theatre is delivered to all communities, not just those with access to state-of-the-art buildings, and minimising the need for significant car travel by audiences coming to the show.
Our team is made up of graduates who dedicated their research to sustainable theatre - from ecofeminism on stage, to biodiversity in performance, we each have a subject we are passionate about when it comes to combining theatre and ecology. But just because we've graduated, doesn't mean our days of learning are over - we continue to research the best methods of theatrical conservation, while working alongside other eco-theatre practitioners and artists to develop a best practice of sustainable creativity.
see our Ecotheatre Sourcebook below for our most up-to-date working model.
our pledge to create sustainable and eco-focused theatre.
Tenderfoot Theatre's manifesto - outlining our company mission, aims and values as a collective.
From the rehearsal room to touring, this living document contains all of our working methods for theatre making in one space.
the eco theatre source-book