The Greenhouse

Aug 14 2019 | By More

Pop-up theatre at Dynamic Earth

Feature by Federica Balbi

The first thing the curators of the Greenhouse will tell you about their creation is that it is the first entirely green venue on the Fringe. And so it is, but it is also much more interesting than one might think.

This small venue, built with all recycled materials, was born from a project of young artists and their need to have a different kind of space which could answer their scenic and technical needs.

Boxed In Theatre is staging seven original plays and a music show every day from noon till just after 10pm. The common theme is environmentalism, which they explore from different angles and with bright creativity.

The exoskeleton of Greenhouse goes up, made of repurposed lighting gantries. Pic: @greenhouse_BI.

The venue is made of recycled materials and sits on the lawn opposite Dynamic Earth, almost in shadow of the Parliament. Lighting trusses hold the structure together and a transept divides the space in two halves, transforming it into the central aisle of a wooden cathedral.

The walls are made of planks, in the shape of a lengthened octagon, and the roof is embossed metal sheet and Plexiglas. Straw covers the ground and wooden benches run along the walls to host an audience of around 30 at a time.

Being green doesn’t only apply to structure of this first ever zero-waste Edinburgh fringe venue, though. Costumes are second-hand while lights, loudspeakers and heating are unnecessary, and the props and scenery are never new.

The consequence is an original form of minimalism, where objects are used with creativity and given new meanings, while the constraints bring new ideas. The plays have a particular feel, because of the space they are played in (and created for, in most of cases), and have an intimacy with their audiences.

Time to chat

Another element of the project is that there is no need to rush outside at the end of a show: there is time for the audience to chat to the performers and creatives as they get ready and warm up before each show.

Greenhouse, in situ on the lawn opposite Dynamic Earth . Pic: @greenhouse_BI.

Being green also means avoiding flyering: no waste of paper, ink, energy and money for something that in most of cases doesn’t live longer than a couple of minutes in the distracted hands of passers-by.

Instead, you could be stopped by actors and directors, who go around presenting their project by directly engaging with the public and sending any information via email. It is a hands-on project that goes on every day, for the theatre-makers as well as for the creators of the project: Oli Savage, Emily Hepher, Luois Catliff, Grace Thorner and Sarah Chamberlain, together with Lara Williams, Caelan Mitchell-Bennett, Lucy Reis and Lara Tillotson.

The most stunning element of the venue, framed by the magnificence of Arthur’s Seat, is its very closeness to nature. Rain tiptoes on the roof, or the sun shines through it: brightening it, warming it up and enlarging the space.

one erroneous belief

“This is no accident”, says Oli Savage, the artistic director. “The changes in the weather contribute to the magic of these plays that speak about nature. And on top of all, we are reminded that all ecological problems come from one erroneous belief: that we humans are at the centre of the world, and that we can control everything.”

The venue, the plays and the work of all the members of the project are focussed on their mission, to spread their message. They are supported by two sponsors: GOES, that monitors the pollution of the oceans and undertakes actions to reduce it, and Clean Water Waves, devoted to installing purifiers for drinking water in many countries and particularly active in the north of Scotland.

Tickets have a very accessible price, and a donation can be made to these two associations.

On the EdFringe website the venue and its shows are listed under Pleasance Pop-Up: Dynamic Earth, The Greenhouse by BoxedIn Theatre, Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Rd, Edinburgh EH8 8AS.

Greenhouse website:
Twitter: @greenhouse_BI
Instagram: @thegreenhouseboxedin
Facebook: @GreenHouseBI

Culture sec Fiona Hyslop and Fringe chief executive Shona McCarthy visited the venue to give it a level 2 Venue Access Award on behalf of the Fringe Society. Pic @culturescotgov Twitter.


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