Production Technology & Management student Coral Nelson volunteers at COP26
Published: November 4, 2021
Coral Nelson is a third-year Production Technology and Management student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who is an active travel route volunteer at the UN climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow.
Tell us about volunteering at COP26, what will you be doing and what inspired you to get involved?
At COP26, I’ll be an active travel route member which essentially means I’ll be giving delegates and visitors directions around the city and the different ‘zones’ Glasgow will be hosting. I originally wanted to get involved as in the future I hope to work on and manage large-scale international events so this seemed like a great opportunity to learn what it’s like to be on the ground for something like this.
On top of this, I’d spent a lot of time growing up volunteering with my parents – including working at the vaccine centres over the pandemic – so it only seemed natural to get involved with COP, as I don’t know when an event like this will come around again!
How do you embed sustainability into your work here at RCS?
Sustainability is something that’s come on my radar relatively recently while being at the RCS. As stage managers, there’s a variety of ways we are trying to embed sustainability into our work: we already source props from other local theatre companies; we share transport with other departments/shows at the RCS, and we’re really encouraging paperlessness across some productions.
I’m continuously inspired by my peers as well who are placing environmentalism into the framework of the shows they’re putting on, such as Parliament Square (below), which has used many of the actors’ own clothes as costumes and has sourced almost all the props for the show.
Coral worked on Aliena/Or One That Can Move Freely and Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) – two of her favourite RCS productions. Images © Robert McFadzean
How can theatre productions be more sustainable?
I think the two biggest elements we’ve got to look at are resources and transport. Where are we importing the materials for our scenery from, and what are we doing with it afterwards? Some theatrical companies have started doing ‘base’ sets that they’ve then built up from for their different productions to prevent the constant creation of one-use set pieces.
There’s also now a bigger focus on where this scenery goes afterwards and whether it can be reused or recycled in any way so we can reduce what’s ending up in landfills after a show. Transport also remains a massive area of improvement, whether that’s delivery services or major set transportation. The London Olympic Opening Ceremony did an amazing commitment by requiring all their volunteers to either car share or use public transport to get to and from rehearsals.
I think for these changes to be happening they need to be championed by producers and placed in the overall framework of the show – the Theatre Green Book is an excellent resource for learning more about sustainable theatre and finding practical solutions to how we work right now.
You’re part of the ETCH festival at RCS – what have you been involved in?
Back in May, I took on the project manager role for ETCH Festival’s Outdoor Chamber Music Festival. It was a manic couple of weeks but it was a great project to showcase not only RCS’s music work but also Glasgow’s green spaces. We performed at Cuningar Loop – a place that really embodies the idea of improving our environment as it went from reservoir, to quarry, to landfill to park all in the space of 200 years.
We filmed all of the performances and have released the final video. I’m really excited for people to hear the music and hopefully learn a bit more about Glasgow and what it has to show.