The set is in, the Bears are sniffing around it... have a peek behind the scenes with Powder Keg

BEARS is almost here. Next week, in fact. And that is really daunting in the best of ways. We’ve got a poster, we’ve got a set, costumes are well on the way, we’ve got the magic gloves of destiny, we’ve got the key, we’ve got the secret et cetera and so forth. Boy oh boy, this is all alarmingly real.

This process has been amazing. We had the pleasure of a couple of workshops with Mark Storor, who brought a different kind of life to the rehearsal room. The chaos and realness that came out of those workshops are things that we have carried into the rest of the process and have definitely impacted the way we have looked at the piece. Having him in the room brought us, as well, a new kind of confidence. It’s one thing to be working with each other and knowing as a unit we are doing good work, but for someone completely new to come into the process and say that we are doing it well, for someone new to be excited in the way that we were when we started the project (and still are now), that is brilliant. Really brilliant.


Having our stage manager in rehearsals has been amazing as well. A lot of things are amazing. We all want Sophie Tetlow to stage manage our entire existences, and it feels great to have her presence and input on each day, as well as sorting out schedules and cig breaks and communications and brews and everything else. She’s a brilliant person to know.

I’ve already waxed lyrical about the insane abilities of our creative team – Xavier the sound designer, Liz the costume and set designer, Louise the lighting designer – and they continue to be exceptional people to work with. For the majority of us, this is the first large-scale project we’ve worked on and the energy that lends is something that can’t really be replicated. Well, maybe it can. We’ll just have to wait until someone else gives us a large pot of money to make a new show. Hint hint.


I was going to post up our carbon calculator for the first week, but I think the idea is to do a big ole retrospective one at the end of it, which will be markedly more useful. I think the biggest thing that we’ve hit in the sustainability making process is finding the line between being as sustainable as possible and making the kind of theatre we need to make in terms of props. There has to be a compromise, I think. Making a sustainable theatrical process isn’t saying knit everything out of recycled fabric, it is looking at the entire thing in depth and figuring out where changes can be made. In the bigger things, like set builds and transport, bigger changes can be made. But in the small sectors, like props, it is sometimes not possible to make everything sustainable. Making theatre will always have a carbon footprint. I think what we’re trying to demonstrate is that we can substantially reduce that carbon footprint by looking at the process with care and consideration. It takes more time, but hopefully, we can sort out some kind of model where we can make the theatre we want without the excessive impact on the environment.


The main role for theatre to do with climate change, as we see it, is in information. Spreading the word. We were asked as a provocation why the money we are being funded with shouldn’t just have been given to a sustainability organisation, and our answer was this: we can make a difference. Information makes the difference. Making sure people are informed, or even just getting them to think about climate change without the dialogue of terror that usually surrounds it, make a massive difference. And that’s what we want to do. We want people to see a piece that is about climate change without it preaching to them or without it fearmongering to the point where people just turn away from it. I think that is one of the main reasons a lot of people don’t focus on climate change as one of the overriding problems of the world. It’s such a massive problem that it seems to big to face, and I think if we get rid of the dialogue of fear and replace it with discussion and drive, then we will have made a difference. A lot of the impact we hope this piece will have won’t come from the show itself, but from the conversations that are sparked around it. We’ve managed to ignite such a passion in ourselves and in the people we have working on the show, we can spread it to our audiences. We are making a stand. Theatre is our platform and I believe we can use it to make a change.

We want this show to live on. Hopefully through taking it to new places (the sustainability of touring is a whole new level, oh boy) but also through being able to take the model of our process and work on it with other theatre companies, theatres, and climate change groups to make it into something that can be used in the future.