Setting the Stage at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum

As a result of connections made at Karyl Newman’s lecture at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum in March, she planned a collaborative cleanup of Giant Rock in Landers, CA to educate and foster appreciation of the historical site with partner

Soon after, the Hi-Desert Nature Museum in Yucca Valley invited Karyl Newman to lead a creative re-use art workshop during the museum’s Summer Youth Camp.

When Stefanie Ritter, Museum Programs Supervisor, explained the subsequent workshop’s focus on drama and theatre, Newman realized pairing these two events was a perfect opportunity to experiment with eco-scenography.

Some of the more than 130 pounds of waste collected at the Giant Rock cleanup was transformed by the Setting the Stage camp students into scenery, costumes and props under Newman’s guidance.

Children aged 6-12 learned about the problem of waste and illegal dumping in our environment by repurposing commonly found items like plastic bags, beverage containers and balloons as well as larger and more unusual dumped objects – a pool ladder, a fox racing vest, upholstery batting and a huge blue plastic tarp. Methods included fusing plastic bags into ‘mountains’, cutting batting into ‘clouds’ and attaching these and a mylar balloon moon to the found tarp as a backdrop and creating ecobricks from all the workshop scraps.

A letter from Ritter stated, “On behalf of the Hi-Desert Nature Museum, I would like to express our deepest gratitude for DEHSART and Ms. Newman’s continual support in making museum programs fun, inspiring, and above all educational”, which facilitated donations to the cleanup by Harbor Freight and materials to secure scenery for the children by the Home Depot, both in Yucca Valley.

The entire project would not have been possible without the participation of the Integratron,, the Bureau of Land Management’s Barstow office and many volunteers, some local and some from as far away as San Jose.

Follow these links to learn more about eco-scenography and ecobricks.


Invite to the Museum Youth Summer Camp theatrical presentation.