Actor Gideon Banner cut his professional stage chops as a performer with Blue Man Group — and yes, that means he spent his evenings covered ear-to-ear in blue paint. But it seems that a nice shade of green is really more his style.
Banner is the founder of the Green Theater Initiative, a nonprofit organization hoping for a curtain call on the unsustainable aspects of the theater industry. Similar to efforts being led by Wicked producer David Stone, Banner’s aim is to help regional theaters realize that making a few changes could not only make them greener, but also earn them a little green along the way.
His newly launched website serves as both a news source and a how-to guide for small-theater professionals, offering tips on how to green office spaces, make theaters more energy efficient, and research the harmful chemicals found in the paints and solvents used to create and break down sets.
Like Eva Radke of Film Biz Recycling, Banner knows this industry from the inside, and though he says the very nature of it makes it prone to wastefulness, he sees opportunity for changes that could make a difference. And he’s quick to emphasize that the theater is full of creative people; they just need to funnel that creativity in a greener direction.
We met up with Banner just a few blocks from one of the regional theaters he’s working with, but after talking for a while, he suggested we hop in a cab and make our way to the Theater District. Below, some highlights from our conversation: