Research and Development
When making our pieces for children, as with all our work, we take a long time….
We take a long time talking, playing, observing and listening to children. We work in schools, and in nurseries and we have a number of schools who regularly help us in our endeavour to make the best work we can. For ‘The Forest’ we asked some schools “would you mind if we took some of your young people to play in a forest?”. Those open-minded schools which agreed to our unusual request provided us with some of our most useful material which informed the piece as you see it today. We ran some workshops with the children first, inside. We wanted to find out what the word ‘forest’ conjured up in their minds, we wanted to see what they imagined and brought to life for themselves with minimal input from us. Its here we discovered the huge range of understanding and experiences of forests; it is clear plenty of children had never been to a forest in the UK; for some it meant lions and monkeys and tigers…for others logs and streams and trees and leaves…for others who were born outside the UK they saw snakes and spiders and exotic birds. What was pleasing though, was that for all of them it meant movement: running, jumping, spinning, climbing, leaping and so from the start we knew that is was right to be making a piece about forests that was a piece of dance.
Then we all got into their minibus and went to a forest and when we arrived this is what happened:
Running off, staying together, walking slowly, worrying about dirt, loving dirt, touching bark, looking up, jumping over muddy puddles, worrying about getting wet, trying to get wet, making leaf piles, jumping into leaf piles, throwing leaves, catching leaves, pointing out strange twisty trees, climbing on fallen dead trees, pretending to be trees swaying, pretending to be trees falling down, lying on the ground looking at the sky, picking things up, collecting pine cones, collecting sticks, collecting twigs, collecting leaves, collecting beetles, making paths, standing still, lying on leaves, poking insects, running away from spiders, chasing people with insects, following insects, watching insects crawl over the ground, over their hands, pointing at spider threads hanging in the sunlight, building fires, looking for bears, looking for werewolves, looking for owls, looking for chipmunks, calling out, chirping, tweeting, howling, hooting, growling…
and if you look carefully you can see most of this in ‘The forest’.
Samantha Butler, Director