Mr. Burns: Making Inclusive and Sustainable Theatre

Mr. Burns production

Coming to the Oscar G. Brockett stage this December, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play is a fully student-produced theatrical production at the University of Texas at Austin. The post-apocalyptic dark comedy seeks to address a significant blindspot in contemporary American theatre: the intersection of environmental and social justice. The production also includes a symposium about sustainable and equitable theatre.

The project at large, entitled Better Mr. Burns, is composed of two parts. The first is a production of Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, addressing the impact of environmental waste and abusive rehearsal practices in theatre by utilizing sustainable and inclusive practices. The second, entitled Better Mr. Burns: Past, Present and Future of Sustainable Theatre, is a series of community engagement activities including visits from guest artists, practical workshops, a symposium and a waste audit.

Set in a dystopian future where North America is left without electricity, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play calls audiences to question their impact on the systems that support human life on the planet. Concurrently, the production process of Mr. Burns, a post-electric play asks these same questions of the community at large - how can artists be more mindful of the impact their work and, as a result, make theatre better?

Committed to a zero-waste set, an upcycled wardrobe, sustainable methods of design and construction, and an inclusive rehearsal room, the mission of Better Mr. Burns informs how theatre-makers can contribute to a cycle of empowerment in a production process both as artists and activists. By focusing this production on cohesive values of inclusivity, integrity, and sustainability, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play illustrates the importance of making art that is mindful of its impacts. Better Mr. Burns joins the ranks of theatre companies across the country attempting to address the same issues and invites artists to answer a call to action.

In addition to this environmentally conscious approach, the project is also a celebration of student initiative in a University setting. The show is primarily run by graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin, with support of a $50K grant from Green Fund, a competitive grant program funded by UT Austin tuition fees to support sustainability-related projects and initiatives on campus.  In addition, the project entails partnerships with Austin Resource Recovery, the UT School of Architecture, Campus Environmental Center, the Office of Sustainability, and Texas Performing Arts. Better Mr. Burns is also a result of various sustainability efforts around campus, reflecting the university’s zero-waste and environmentally sustainable initiatives on campus.

Mr. Burns, a post-electric play performs in the Oscar G. Brockett Theatre on December 14th, December 15th, December 16th, and December 17th, 2018. Admission is free, and tickets can be reserved at bettermrburns.org/tickets.

For more resources, updates on this process, and to get tickets for the various events, visit bettermrburns.org

Writer: Ariane Stier, PR/ Marketing Coordinator (832) 955-8661 arianestier@utexas.edu