After Miss Julie "Classic for a New Climate" opens at Young Vic

Added on 21st Mar 2012

After Miss Julie press shotTonight a re-imagining of Strindberg's cruelest love story, Miss Julie, opens at the Young Vic after a week of previews. Set in England, July 1945, After Miss Julie takes place during the celebrations of the Labour Party's landslide election victory and follows events which, over the course of a single night, turn Miss Julie's world head over heels.

Adapted from the original by Patrick Marber and directed by Natalie Abrahami, After Miss Julie is also a "Classics for a New Climate" production, which has been investigating approaches to making more ecologically sustainable theatre in partnership with Julie's Bicycle. Prompted by the Mayor of London's target to reduce London's emissions by 60% before 2050, the Young Vic set out to reduce the energy used to produce After Miss Julie by 50% compared to other shows that have been staged in the Maria Theatre previously.

Heating, cooling and ventilating are the three systems that use up the most energy within the theatre space, and the Young Vic has an efficient system in place thanks to a refurbishment to the building which reopened in 2006. Initiatives that this production has put in place to reduce energy further have involved using natural ventilation as a substitute for heating and cooling as much as possible. This explains why the temperature in the auditorium varies slightly and why they’ve asked audience members to wear layers.

Again, making the most of natural resources, researsal times were shifted to happen earlier in the day to make use of daylighting saving hours and reduce energy from lighting in the space. 

The set and props have been recycled and reused from other Young Vic productions - for example the floor and stairs used are from The Changeling, as are some of the props. Other props have been sourced from local markets or made from second hand or recycled materials, and the costumes have been refashioned from 1940s fabric found in local markets too.

Travel has also been driven down - for the last four comparable shows in The Maria vans and lorries drove 300 to 3,000 miles to deliver set and equipment, resulting in an average of 790kg CO2e per production. After Miss Julie’s production is an 80% improvement: 190kg C02e. Not having to build walls, reusing existing stairs and flooring and using existing equipment for most lighting and sound means they’ve had minimal hires and deliveries.

After Miss Julie is also a paperless and ticketless production. A standard show in The Maria uses 130kg of paper, and After Miss Julie has used only 2kg of paper – equating to 2% of normal consumption. Their "rent-a-programme scheme" is also a new innovation which will see programmes being reused.

Audience travel is, at the end of the day, one of the biggest impacts of a production. The Young Vic is situated close to public transport links and does well to counter travel emissions by this and the fact that 20% of their audience live locally in Lambeth/ Southwark, and 85-90% live in London. It also helps to put things in perspective knowing that if people stayed at home instead of coming to the show they’d be using more energy – it is more efficient (and more enjoyable) to go to the theatre and partake in a shared experience.

Further communication with the audience about how After Miss Julie has been sustainably produced is highlighted in the programme, via infographic paintings on the walls outside the theatre entrance and on the Young Vic website and blog.

Julie's Bicycle has been able to help the Young Vic measure the impacts that these production decisions have had on their energy use, and the production has successfully reduced energy by approximately 60% compared to previous Maria shows. A great achievement, and a fantastic case study for other theatre organisations with aspirations to make their production processes more sustainable.

For more information and to hear how the After Miss Julie cast have been adapting to more sustainable habits, visit the Young Vic blog.