A UF student decided to save money by turning to something greener after seeing thousands of dollars spent on new theater set materials each year.
The UF School of Theatre + Dance used only recyclable materials on the set of “Hills on Fire” this past weekend. Samantha Lewis, a 24-year-old UF scene design master’s student led the initiative.
“I was definitely inspired by how I felt personally after the last show, and how wasteful we were, and how I could literally see all the ways that we could have been better about it,” Lewis said.
Lewis visited The Repurpose Project, a nonprofit resale store on 1920 NE 23rd Ave., where she retrieved many of the materials she needed to make this recycled set at a low cost, she said.
The school spent less than $1,000 on this set. Set budgets range typically from $750 to $4,000 depending on the show. Lewis said she is still calculating how much money her design saved the school.
She started her recycled set challenge after seeing the school’s “Rough Magic” production in April. Most of the materials used were disposed of after the show.
Lewis encouraged the “Hills on Fire” scenic design team to purchase windows from The Repurpose Project and to buy nicer two-by-six wood boards in hopes of recycling for the next show, she said.
“I think we only threw the screws and staples away,” Lewis said.
Lewis worked closely with the guest director, Ryan Hope Travis, a filmmaker and School of Theatre + Dance alumnus. He quickly became a cheerleader for her work.
“It was great to have Sam be able to reach out to the community in such a sustainable way,” Travis said.
Travis said Lewis’ work was almost metaphorical for this play, which was about community relationships.
“This was a play about the community and how those communities and community relationships start building solutions to long term problems,” he said. “So, in a really tangible way, her work is doing what the play seeks to do in an artistic manner.”