Jennifer Wheeler Kahn BFA ’04 breathes new life into old theatre materials as sustainable fashion goods

Photo of Jennifer Wheeler Kahn
Jennifer Wheeler Kahn BFA '04 and a Scenery Bags purse that was recycled from retired theatre material. (Photo courtesy of Scenery Bags)

The stage management alumna’s Scenery Bags transforms theatrical leftovers, including SDA’s recycled Bing Theatre curtain, and donates a portion of proceeds to theatre programs.

When a theatre production closes, ever wonder what happens to all the material used for the stage floors, backdrops and promotional banners? Jennifer Wheeler Kahn BFA ’04, a stage manager for 17 years on Broadway, off-Broadway and at top regional theatres, saw too often that this material landed in a dumpster. Or, it was warehoused for years waiting for a tour or sale that never happened – and then ended up in a dumpster.

She envisioned a more sustainable future. In 2017, she founded Scenery Bags, a company that turns theatrical leftovers into purses, totes and jewelry. “Take the Story With You” is the firm’s tagline, and its online sales platform ( lets customers know exactly what production supplied the raw materials, graciously crediting the show, scenic designer and even backdrop painters.

Want a ring in the shape of a coffin made from the laminate floor deck of Beetlejuice the Musical’s pre-Broadway run at The National Theatre in Washington, D.C. (scenic design by David Korins)? How about a zippered pouch from a fabric drop used in the Broadway production of Mamma Mia! (scenic design by Mark Thompson)?

Read more about Jennifer’s story