When we were children, we loved climbing trees and play in the forest. The forest provided us with joy, freedom, and mysteries. We ran with it, rolled in it, climbed in it and made up thousands of stories on our way. When our parents threw us out to play, we went to the forest where our imagination could roam freely. The scenery in itself posed hundreds of stories, and playmates grew out from all the rocks, plants, roots and trees we could find.
As we grew older, we discovered the world of music and circus, which provided us with a lot of the same qualities as the forest. And with a paycheck in our hands as well. There we refined our play skills, imagination, and physical capacities.
After working on theatre stages, circus halls, tents and concert stages for years, we grew tired of staying inside. We taught it was time to go back to the forest and take the audience with us.
While working in shows, we discovered that the audience is not really allowed to come on stage and join us in our adventures. They are quite passive observers of the artists having fun on stage. In the forest, we want to change that. We invite the audience to come with us and play in our imaginary world and dive into the forest in a similar way as we did when we were children. This we hope will give a special and deeper relation to the surrounding landscape, where every stone has a value. It is a very different relationship than the grown-up relation where the forest is a beautiful but quite passive scenery for our Sunday walks.
To have a personal relationship with the surrounding landscape can enrich the quality of life for people living in an area. Many people have not noticed that there is a forest straight behind their workplace, or behind the road that they cross every day. We are very obsessed with our everyday lives where most activities are held inside and in a city center.
Getting people aware of, and creating a relation to these forest areas also becomes important in a world in a climate crisis. It can raise the awareness of the values and possibly contribute to the protection of our forests.
Our aim is that the audience experience the surrounding nature, rediscover childhood playfulness, exercising trust and letting go of control as well as cooperation and relation to the group.
We invite them to work together as a group and overcome challenges. The forest is filled with natural challenges. For instance getting up a cliff. The audience is physically activated as well as socially. They need to help each other out to be able to get up the cliff. For some climbing up a cliff will be as easy as walking up the stairs, for others, it’s a boundary-breaking happening. The people finding it easy to climb will then be challenged in their cooperation skills by helping the others up. In our circus techniques, we try to include the audience as well. Some events are happening far away and the audience needs to discover it, like when a bird-watcher catches a glimpse of a bird. In the hair-hanging scene, the audience needs to pull a rope to pull the hair hanger out from the bushes and up into the trees. The violinist is heard from afar and they need to use their ears to follow the music to discover the mythical creature playing from the treetops. A tree animal comes down from a tree and can´t touch the ground. The audience needs to form a bridge with their bodies so that the ”tree animal” can walk on them to get from one tree to the next. In this way, we attempt to make sense of all the circus element to have a purpose in the landscape and a purpose for the audience.
We are quite tired of existing power structures in the society and we are working on changing them.
One of these structures is the boundaries between audience and performer. The performer is serving the audience an experience and the audience needs to passively receive what is served and follow. To wipe this boundary away completely would be hard and foolish but we try to stretch it. We give the audience choices and tasks they can choose to accept or not. We try to facilitate for the audience to give themselves an experience rather than serving it to them. They are actively participating in the circus techniques happening, and carry a bit of the responsibility of where the show will go on their shoulders.
Another power-structure we work on is the one between one audience-member to the other. We attempt to create a meeting point in the forest where all are equal and forget about which social group we belong to in society. When the audience arrives at a performance they carry their background, identity, and status in the society with them. This leads to certain norms of how they relate to each other and how to behave. We give the audience neutral costumes which they were throughout the performance, and we are leading them blindfolded into the forest, into the unknown. This we hope takes away a bit of their identity for a moment, give them some freedom of behaving as they want and look at each other with fresh eyes.
In our method of working, we also try to wipe out power-structures. We don’t have any director, but a common vision. Everyone’s suggestions are equally valued. We create through improvisational games and group discussions. The performance can never be static but will be ever changing. We need to relate to the forest we are surrounded by and will change according to the forest, the weather, the audience and the light. If we need to take in replacements, the replacing artist is not supposed to copy the artist it is replacing, but perform and create according to his/her own wishes.
Ecological and sustainable
In the project, we carry with us as little material as possible and use what the forest is providing. We use the trees as rigging points and rig only with ropes, which we take care to tie in a way so that it does not hurt the trees. We take care to leave the area without leaving any traces after us. We don’t use any artificial sound and light technique. Our costumes are self-made or bought second hand. We never fly, but travel by train.
Nature is a big part of the Scandinavian culture and forms a lot of our identity. In Norway, we have the expression «ut på tur». Every Sunday people go with their family, friends or alone on a mountain hike, and every day most people go for random small walks in nature to relax. In Sweden, it is common to go for hikes once or twice a year with the tent in the backpack and stay out in nature for weeks. The weather is mostly quite cold, rainy and harsh in Scandinavia. We learn from young ages that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. So regardless of the weather, we are used to be outside and enjoy nature as it is. These are values that we would like to share with the rest of the world. Our mythology is filled with forest creatures and myths from the forest, which we take inspiration from in our performances. Other cultures probably have their own relationship to their surrounding nature. When traveling the world we hope to collaborate with local artists and organizers in order to learn about how other cultures relate to their forests.