ETC TGB: ‘There Were No Limits on My Creativity’

Teatro Arriaga

ETC: You directed ‘ORGIA’, which won national artistic awards and was an ‘Advanced’-level sustainable production through the ETC Theatre Green Book. What was this experience like?

Calixto Bieito: We’re proud of everything in ORGIA: the music, the actors, the performances. The production was chosen as the ‘Best New Contemporary Lyrical Creation’ at the VI Opera XXI awards earlier this year, and just toured to the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. In the middle of this, we managed to make ORGIA a fully sustainable production. Because of how we re-used and stored the items used in the costume and set design, it earned ‘Advanced’ classification, the highest level of sustainability according to the ETC Theatre Green Book.

It’s important for me to say is that there were no limits on my creativity during this process. None – not in the staging, the casting, the design, anything. We decided to make the production sustainable, and from there, as a team, we figured it out.

I reject dogma. My approach is based on dialogue and positive energy and consensus. But I also think it’s natural to want to work in a way that considers the future of everyone who will be here when we’ve gone.

And at the end of all of this, you think, wow – we have done something special. It has been possible to make a show sustainable. The process created a good energy and unity between the team, and I hope that this can be communicated to other theatres too.

ETC: Was this the first time you had worked on a sustainable production?

Calixto Bieito: I had always been interested in the topic and I had made productions about environmental themes like water. My city, Bilbo, has been ranked the most sustainable city in Spain in the well-regarded GDS (Global Destination Sustainability) index.

But from an artistic perspective, I just like re-using things. I’ve worked in many large theatres in Spain, in the United States, and it’s creatively enriching to go into the warehouses and look for items that have already been used and put them in your shows. They always have a life, their own energy, and the process can be creative – extremely creative. It turns out that this is called working sustainably.

ETC: Do you have any advice to other Artistic Directors that are considering making a sustainable production with the ETC Theatre Green Book?

Calixto Bieito: It’s a bit uncomfortable to sit here and give advice, as every artist needs to feel free when they work. But I would say: just try things out. Start with your artistic freedom and see if sustainability can work. In general, I think we overcomplicate things. I think it is possible to make a
truly sustainable performance -- it just depends on willpower.
I also didn’t make ORGIA sustainable on my own. Irene, our Production Manager, and the entire artistic team cares a lot about sustainability. The Board cares about it. As I mentioned, my city, and also the mayor, are proud of their record on sustainability. And of course, the ETC Theatre Green Book
was essential in guiding us.

ETC: Will you continue making your productions sustainable in the future?

Calixto Bieito: Yes, we’ll take this spirit into future productions. We don’t really have any other choice. We have to think about future generations – that is what sustainability means, after all: thinking about the generations that come after us.

I don’t believe in my posterity. I believe in legacy. If you can leave things better for the people who come after you, then all the better. We collectively face a series of environmental challenges that will affect us dramatically, and it’s important to find a solution.

ETC: Have you started work on the other elements of the ETC Theatre Green Book, on buildings and operations?

Calixto Bieito: We’ve started working on this, yes. Everything in the ETC Theatre Green Book is going to be taken into account. It’s a different challenge to working on productions, but it’s exciting. Having different creative challenges is always a good thing for an artist.

Interview with Calixto Bieito, Artistic Director at Teatro Arriaga/Spain

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