Interactive and participatory, immersive theatre experience
At the Kelburn Garden Party 2011, the creatures and characters of the Secret Forest came to life!
Fairyland had gone awry with news that the woodcutter was missing!? Why are properties going so cheaply in the Secret Forest? And who killed the King and why? These are the questions that have been posed to audiences by creatures and characters of the Secret Forest at the Kelburn Garden Party.
Since 2011 I have directed the Secret Forest, a concept developed in association with the festival organiser, David Boyle, bringing to life their magical maze with interactive street theatre. The labyrinth was built over 20 years ago on the grounds of the family’s 13th Century castle, the setting for a unique experience for festival-goers.
Over two days of the summer festival, audiences entering the forest were invited to help solve the mystery within, taking part in game involving observation, deduction & wit. With aspects of a treasure hunt, riddle quests & cluedo, they walked around the Secret Forest, gathering information and clues from the characters within. The participatory and immersive street theatre experience has proved a successful format and grown year on year.
In 2012 I brought co-director Cameron Hall on to help develop the project further. I wanted the project to have an element of professional development and so brokered a relationship with the Diploma of Physical Theatre Practice. For two years we have led workshops in this unique style of street theatre with the students and offered a performance for participants.
The key to making this style of collaboration work is in the devising, enabling participants to create stories, back stories and relationships for their characters. They put together their own costumes and have a sense of ownership. Their rewards come in the fantastic response from audiences, who are always up for playing.
The project has developed to include a Dark Cabaret where tour guides leading small groups into the darkened forest for unique, curious and chilling look of the Forest at the witching hour. The intimate performances are not for the feint-hearted, offering a great outlet for darker storytelling.
The project continues to be supported by the festival allowing Cam and I to develop the format. We’ve been invited to create some more scary experiences for Halloween 2013.
Robyn - new to the whole blog thing