UK’s first recycled theatre to be built in Southwark

Elizabeth Davis

Southwark is to host the UK’s first fully-functioning theatre made entirely from recycled and reclaimed materials.

The Jellyfish Theatre will be created by Berlin-based architects K̦bberling and Kaltwasser and will be made from recycled theatre sets Рusually scrapped after a run Рkitchen units donated by the public and any unwanted items the team can salvage from building sites.

It will open in the summer, first as an exhibition space and then, in September, as a theatre, after which time it will be dismantled and each of its parts recycled.

Theatre company The Red Room has commissioned two plays for the space – Oikos, by Simon Wu and Protozoa by Kay Adshead – which aim to examine how the human race may have to adapt to survive in the future. In the spirit of the building, all props and set will be made from recycled or reclaimed items. Director Topher Cambell said: “The concept for the theatre and the plays are one – we’re working towards one idea integrating the works and the building. The whole thing should be seen as a theatre event.”

Currently only a few days into its construction, the Jellyfish Theatre will take approximately six to eight weeks to complete, during which time members of the public will be invited to donate materials and volunteer to help with the construction. In July, the theatre will be showcased as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

As a fully-functioning dramatic space, the Jellyfish will need lighting and electricity. The team are hoping to use the fuel-cell system which has just been launched by the Arcola theatre, reported last week by The Stage. The Red Room is also exploring the possibility of a lighting design which harnesses daylight.

Southwark council has waived the usual £250,000 hire charge for the site of the theatre – a playground off Union Street. Other contributions for the project have come in the form of cash donations, volunteers giving their time and members of the public providing the physical materials to build the theatre. Local children have been asked to decorate small plastic bottles and these will then be used to decorate one wall of the building.

During the months of July and August the Jellyfish Theatre will be used as an exhibition space, before the two new plays are performed there from August 26. The whole project has been given the title The Oikos Project.

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