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Seattle University


Greening the theatre

Written by Mike Thee
March 2, 2010

“Seinfeld” fans may remember the episode in which Kramer happens upon an old set from the old “Merv Griffin Show” that’s been tossed in a Dumpster. He fishes out the pieces, takes them to his apartment, reassembles the set and pretends to host his own talk show.

A similar exercise in reuse is coming to the Lee Center for the Arts—except this time it’s for real.

“WRITER 1272” opens this week as the debut production of greenSquat. Steve Galatro, operations manager in Fine Arts, founded greenSquat as a new, eco-friendly way of doing theater. Much as a “squatter” uses the property of others, greenSquat stages their productions on sets that have already been created for other performances. “WRITER 1272” will use the same design as SU’s recent production of “Island of Slaves.” Even posters from the “squatted on” play will be reused and only found (think Kramer), recycled or repurposed materials have been added to accommodate the new production.

Galatro, who earned his Master of Fine Arts in June 2009, created greenSquat as part of his graduate summary project. He credits SU's eco-minded theatre professors with helping to spawn the idea.

“Theatre is wasteful, says Galatro. “In terms of time, money, energy and physical resources, we have not yet done our best as a theatre community to embrace the trend of sustainability that is now present all around us.” With greenSquat, we are examining the wide array of materials that make a production and imagining their potential to make another production entirely.” 

As for the play itself, “WRITER 1272” is a comedy that deals with another, though less savory form of “reuse”—namely, “plagiarism, ghostwriting and the dark world of college admissions.” Award-winning local playwright Vincent Delaney wrote and directed the play, and a team of SU undergraduate and graduate students is running the production. “It’s been great to see the students take the reins completely,” says Galatro.

The students have also reached out to local and national green businesses, and many have donated a variety of green products ranging from lip balm to cleaning products to jewelry made out of guitar strings. “As I sit here in my office,” says Galatro, “I’m buried in boxes because the response has been overwhelming.”

There’s a plan for all that free stuff. Instead of a ticket, each theatergoer will receive a tote bag, which they will be invited to fill with the donated earth-friendly products.

“WRITER 1272” will be staged at the Lee Center for the Arts on Thursday and Friday, March 4 and 5, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 6, at 2 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, March 11 and 12, at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, March 13, at 7:30 p.m. A preview will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3. Admission is $6 for students, $8 for faculty and staff, and $10 for general public. For tickets, call the box office at 296-2244.