Friday, May 13, 2011

Crossroads Theatre Project: Starting off on the right carbon footprint

Saving money and trees with paperless marketing
by Shawn C. Harris (playwright and producer of Tulpa, or Anne&Me)

image credit: Chris Tyler
Imagine marketing your event without printing a single postcard, flyer, or business card. Imagine promoting your play strictly through social media, e-mail, and talking to people face-to-face.

This is exactly what Crossroads Theatre Project is doing for the world premiere of our first play, Tulpa, or Anne&Me.

As a fledgling project putting up our very first production, going with paperless marketing was an easy decision for us. With a shoestring budget, we only had enough money to pay for the essentials of staging our play. But Sara and I quickly discovered that our necessity gave us a powerful way to practice green theatre. By completely cutting out paper from our marketing efforts, we cut out a lot of the financial and ecological waste that often comes with making theatre - waste that we don’t need to create but seem to do simply out of habit.

Because we could not rely on a crowd of people showing up to our play because they like our postcard, we had to focus on making real connections with people. This meant leaving our comfort zones and getting in touch with the people who want to see our work -- going to their events, showing our support for them, explaining the connections between our work and the work they’re doing, and going out of our way to reach people in person whenever possible. It’s time-consuming and exhausting, but the deeper connections we made with people is worth it. We’re reaching people who normally would not come to our show or see theatre at all, but they’re interested in what we’re doing and really want to support us.

Putting it that way, that’s what good marketing is all about. I think it’s worth trading off a few hundred postcards for that.

Tulpa, or Anne&Me is playing at the Robert Moss Theater (440 Studios) on June 2 at 6pm, June 3 at 4pm, June 16 at 8pm, and June 19 at 8:15pm. Tickets $18. To purchase tickets or find out more about the play, visit

Do you have a paperless marketing success story to share? 
Tell us in the comments!


  1. I was just at the TEDxMichiganAve conference last weekend, and Julie Ritchey, AD of Filament Theatre challenged us to make sustainability a cornerstone of artistic work, and to avoid the attitude that we get a pass on environmental sustainability because we're making ART.

  2. @Aaron:

    Yeah, and I think that sometimes we just do things because they're done and not really looking at what works best for a particular project or community. Most postcards, flyers, and such are ultimately thrown away - if not as soon as a person's back is turned, then at least as soon as the show is over. For me, printed postcards and the like have more sentimental value than value to me as an artist or audience member.