'A Carnival of Ruin' features set and costumes made out of trash

WEST CHESTER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A group of West Chester University professors are turning their passion for sustainability into a free play for the community with costumed characters dressed in trash.

Colorful and upcycled plastic bags make up a costume gown to be worn for West Chester University's "A Carnival of Ruin."

"There is a lot of plastic in the show...hundreds and hundreds more within the dresses," said Gretchen Studlien-Webb, co-creator and co-producer of the "A Carnival of Ruin."

Everything from the costumes to the set are almost entirely comprised of post-consumer materials.

"The top of tent is about 8,000 plastic bags," said Studlien-Webb.

The creators are three associate professors from West Chester University who share a passion for sustainability expressed through art.

"Our main ringleader has this habit of not seeing trash," Studlien-Webb explains.

They utilize a carnival theme to showcase the harmful effects of consumerism with the ringleader wearing a jacket made up of upcycled bottle caps.

To gather all the material they needed, the group put out calls on social media.

"Within hours we could have bags and bags of plastic on our doorsteps," said Studlien-Webb.

"We have tin cans that we cut apart and made mermaid scales," said Constance Case, the co-creator and co-producer of the "A Carnival of Ruin."

Case has designed hundreds of costumes for the stage.

They also used Wawa bags and hula hoops to make a lion costume.

The cast is current students and alumni of the University with sound design and dialogue from Philadelphia artists.

Their hope is to inspire social change.

"Like using a reusable water bottle, reusable grocery bags," said Studlien-Webb.

Carnival of Ruin will be staged outdoors on May 29 at East Goshen Township Park in West Chester. Tickets are free but you must register.


Carnival of Ruin by West Chester University

1661 Paoli Pike, West Chester, Pennsylvania, 19380

2 Outdoor Performances: May 29 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m at East Goshen Township Park, Registration required
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