Premiere for stage design from mushroom mycelium

Premiere for stage design from mushroom mycelium

Researchers at TU Dresden work on sustainable stage design made of a composite material with fungal mycelium. The corresponding premiere is at the beginning of December in Munich.

Modellform der Theaterdekoration aus dem mycelbasierten Verbundstoff
Model of the theater decoration made of the mycelium-based composite material

"The Entrepreneur" by Kevin Rittberger at the Residenztheater in Munich is a premiere in two respects. When the curtain rises on December 9, 2022, at the Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel, not only the actors but also, for the first time, a stage set will be in the spotlight. An eight-meter-high tree trunk made of a sustainable material will be presented. A composite material made of wood chips and mushroom mycelium was used to build this backdrop.

Stage decoration from renewable raw materials

The tree trunk is currently being produced by researchers at TU Dresden together with biotopa gGmbH. The use of the novel composite material made from mushroom mycelium for a theater production is an experiment, as the material is still under development. Growing a component from mushroom mycelium in this size and under the time pressure of the premiere within four months was a "risky" challenge for all involved, according to the researchers. The novel material first had to be filled into the mold, overgrown with fungal mycelium and then dried so that it would have the appropriate strength in the end.

Lightweight and biodegradable

Unlike conventional stage sets, which are often made of non-recyclable materials such as wood construction panels or plastics like Styrofoam and are therefore disposed of as hazardous waste, this material, which consists of 100% renewable raw materials, can be completely returned to nature after performances are over.

The use of the mushroom-based building material also does justice to the content of the play. It centers on an entrepreneur who changes his entire corporate philosophy and suddenly turns his focus to trees instead of profit. The development team is convinced that this lightweight, malleable and non-combustible material made from mushroom mycelium will find further applications in the field of stage design.

Exhibition in the theater shows material development

The tree trunk for the Munich theater production was financed by the project partners themselves. Based on the experience, the team now wants to apply for research funding for collaboration with other theaters. An exhibition in the foyer of the Residenztheater will also provide information about the material development.