Theatre backdrops help bring the story to life. But when the show is over, backdrops are discarded and forgotten. Now, one woman is repurposing these backdrops and doing something incredible with them.
Jen Kahn has been involved in the world of theatre for years. She has worked as a stage manager on and off Broadway for many years. For a long time, Kahn “never gave a second thought to what happened to the stage scenery” but this all changed in 2015.
That year, Kahn and her friend were on a road trip. The two walked into a store which was selling bags “made from old sails from sailboats.” That’s when Kahn realized she could do the same thing with the theater backdrops.
Kahn followed up on this inspiration and with that, Scenery Bags came about. Kahn started collecting backdrops from theaters and set rental companies that were about to be thrown away. Then, Kahn started work on her sewing machine.
“The massive backdrops [are] cut up and stitched into simple, super cute, rectangular clutches.” The colors and patterns vary with each bag. Each one is unique and comes with whatever colors and patterns that piece of backdrop holds.
The clutches also come with a label inside telling you which show the backdrop came from. Now, this project already sounds amazing. This woman is giving us one of a kind clutches and she’s recycling. But she’s doing even more.
A portion of the money earned from these clutches goes to fund the Theater Development Fund’s Stage Door program. This program gives middle school and high school kids the opportunity to see Broadway shows. Kahn wanted to help make the theater “more accessible to everyone.”
Kahn knows this wouldn’t have happened without the support from the theater community. Particularly, from a famous theater fan. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom bought one of the bags and even shared info about it with her fans on Instagram.
Bloom had learned about these bags from actress Krysta Rodriguez. The latter is a friend of Kahn as the two had worked together. When Bloom saw Rodriguez’s Instagram post about the bags, Bloom sought to get one of her own.
“We have been given such an amazing opportunity to create less waste, keep a part of the theater history forever, and introduce a new generation of story tellers to theater,” Kahn wrote in an email. “We may be giving [kids] an introduction to theater, but I strongly believe they will be giving us back so much more,” she added.
“Arts programs in America are endangered…If arts programs are cut from schools, a generation of kids won’t be encouraged to express themselves creatively, and the art world will suffer as a result.” What Kahn is doing is giving kids the chance to start their own path in the world of theater.
More than that, with more funding, kids will have the chance to get that first taste of the theater. It’s a chance for them to experience wonder. It’s an opportunity to get them into a world of imagination.