The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts (CSPA) has awarded the third CSPA Fringe Award for Sustainable Production at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to The Man Who Planted Trees adapted from Jean Giono’s story by Ailie Cohen, Richard Medrington, Rick Conte and directed by Ailie Cohen. It is produced by the Edinburgh’s Puppet State Theater, and is currently on tour in North America.
Giono, who passed in 1970, has said about The Man Who Planted Trees in 1957: “I wrote this story to make people love trees, or more precisely to make people love planting trees. Of all my stories it is one of the ones of which I am most proud. It has never earned me a penny and for that reason it has accomplished the very purpose for which it was written.”
“The Man Who Planted Trees was chosen because of the synchronicity of the themes and the physical production of the show.” comments Ian Garrett, co-founder and Director of the CSPA. “ The award is intended to reward both smartly addressing issues of sustainability and production practices. Further, we recognize that in the Fringe environment, the physically production is often partially determined by the resources and time made available by the venues. What made The Man Who Planted Trees stand out is that it was able to successfully combine these factors into one of the most consistently lauded productions of the festival.”
The award is determined by the submission of a questionnaire about how the show was produced and audience response. The Man Who Planted Trees’ production team was able to provide comprehensive technical information for the production, which showed a commitment to design and resource efficiency. This considered approach also factored into their communications and marketing. All of these factors were further supported by the themes of the play.
The CSPA Directors, Ian Garrett and Miranda Wright adjudicated the award, along with select CSPA affiliates and friends. This year marked the beginning of a closer relation with Festival Edinburgh, which supports all of the festivals throughout August and the rest of the year. For the original Edinburgh Fringe application, Mhora Samuel and Tim Atkinson from The Theatres Trust’s European Regional Development Fund-backed Ecovenue project helped the CSPA adapt the criteria for a UK audience, providing guidance on UK equivalents to US name brands, as well as providing insight on measuring conventions and policy.
“The CSPA is not just another ‘go green’ organization,” says Wright. “We hope to gather and distribute information that aids in the sustainability of the earth, the sustainability of our communities, and the sustainability of our art. And so, the purpose of this award is not to recognize the greenest production. Our objective in offering this award is to ask questions of ourselves, as theater artists, about the greater impact of our work on the world around us. The fringe model provides an ideal platform to introduce these ideas and the award due to the expectations and scale of the shows.”
“Even more so than we want someone to score perfectly on the questionnaire we use to evaluate shows, we want theater artists to look at the questions and think about how it helps to guide their thinking about sustainability in the their art. There may be questions asked in ways they hadn’t thought, and we hope they ask these questions of their next project and the project after that,” adds Garrett.
Ian Garrett and Miranda Wright founded the CSPA in early 2008 after individually working on each of the programs that now make up the multi-faceted approach to sustainability separately. The organization provides a network of resources to arts organizations, which enables them to be ecologically and economically sustainable while maintaining artistic excellence. Past and Present partnerships have included the University of Oregon, Ashden Directory, Arcola Theater, Diverseworks Artspace, Indy Convergence, York University, LA Stage Alliance and others.