Minnesota Theater Group Gives Lessons In Solid Waste Reduction

Minneapolis - The lights go down, curtains open and the audience sees Juliet trapped in-side a living landfill that will not let her go until she understands how everyone can work to-gether to relieve its distress.

Sound dramatic? It's supposed to. "Waste In Time," presented by Small Change Theater, is an educational play for children that portrays a cross cultural perspective of solid waste in the environment, including reduction, reuse and recycling. Students in kindergarten through sixth grades are tested before and three months after the performance and results reportedly show the students re-tained much of what they learned.

Through sponsorship, Small Change performs live, educational theater programs in front of 2.5 million students in more than 6,000 schools across the country. Their programs concentrate on such subjects as water pollution, household hazardous waste disposal, solid waste reduction, and recycling.

The theater of-fers more than 60 customized programs and supplemental materials.

"[The plays] have a good message; they're presented well, and the kids are picking up on the terms - re-duce, re-use and recycle," said Linda Hardy, public information officer for Middlesex County Utilities Authority, N.J.

"For many years, speakers have gone into individual school's classrooms to address solid waste issues. But in these days of tightening government budgets, we are always looking for more cost-effective ways to reach students," said Paula Magyari, senior waste management specialist for Sonoma County, Calif.

Small change offers more than 60 customized programs that include classroom materials and evaluation forms which teachers fill out and send directly to the sponsor. This feedback helps sponsors determine the program's impact and reach