After the final performance of a production, the scenery is packed away in containers before leaving for the Port of Antwerp where it is stored.
Some of the scenery, which has been co-produced, sold, or hired out, then begins its journey to other stages in Europe and beyond. Some will return to La Monnaie a few years later before being recycled.
As long as the artistic project in question permits it, standard structures and elements of scenery from the stores are used to make new scenery. Some existing sets are thus transformed to create new set designs. The rehearsal scenery, following a “zero spending” approach as far as possible, is made from materials that are sourced almost exclusively from the stores.
The five-tonne metal structure from Bluebeard’s Castle (2018) was transformed by the Workshops into a new base for the scenery for Il Tabarro, a giant comic-book page (Il Trittico, 2022).
To recycle large sets, La Monnaie has been collaborating with Retrival, a cooperative company that specialises in the collection, sorting, reuse, and recycling of waste. Between May and November 2021, 41 containers of scenery were processed. La Bohème (2010), with its 12.5 tonnes of scenery, was one of the productions that were recycled. Thanks to the sorting and dismantling carried out by Retrival, it was possible to recycle 80% of that material.
Today, a brand-new in-house system for dismantling scenery has been put in place, reducing both transport and cost of recycling.
Other elements of scenery are redistributed through In Limbo. This digital platform, co-founded by La Monnaie, enables the exchange of materials within the socio-cultural sector in Brussels. In 2019 – 20, out of the 48 tonnes of materials exchanged on In Limbo, 6.6 tonnes came from La Monnaie.
Thanks to In Limbo, the floor from Lulu, after having covered the stage of La Monnaie on two occasions (2012 and 2021), was given to the Bud Blumenthal dance company and is now installed in their Hybrid studios.
Small elements of scenery and reusable materials are made available through the Récupérathèques network, which provides students of the creative arts with access to salvaged materials at a low cost.
The five containers of scenery from Foxie! (2017) are dismantled to be recycled in collaboration with Rotor in partnership with different future users. Four fifths of all the material from the scenery was repurposed.
Among the iconic elements of scenery that have been given a second life is a fox measuring 6.25 m long and 2.42 m high (weighing 681 kg!).
Recycling is not an end in itself. Several projects are underway to reduce the volume of scenery and encourage the reuse of sets.