With just over a week to go till this year’s Uncivilisation, Dougie Strang, the curator of the new Parachute Stage introduces the wild and wonderful goings-on you’ll find at this corner of the festival.
Dark Mountain began as a writers’ project, but it has welcomed the involvement of a wider range of folk: artists and musicians and makers of things, foragers and psychologists, storytellers and dancers and, of course, those who defy the labelling. What binds us, perhaps, is the belief that creative expression is a valid and necessary response to this era of crisis and loss.
The Uncivilisation festival has seen an annual flourishing of that expression, and one of the things I’ve loved most is that it seems to embody a different kind of creative sensibility to that of mainstream festival culture. We’ve not been interested in spectacle for its own sake, recognising that making something bigger and louder might grab attention, but it doesn’t confer value. We’ve aimed instead for intimacy and depth: acoustic music sessions, storytelling at the fire, found theatre and art in the woods, talks that are less lectures and more participative conversations.
There’s an appropriateness to this approach, but also a delight in the possibilities it offers. This year, for example, as well as the main marquee and the woodland stage, we thought we’d build our own stage. It feels like another step – Unciv began in a pavilion with full PA system and rows of chairs and it’ll end, for now, with a parachute stage strung between trees and straw bales to sit on.
In putting together the programme for the Parachute Stage, I wanted to reflect that wide range of people who have given time and energy to Dark Mountain, and the breadth of ideas and practices that they bring. So there will be some familiar faces: Tom Hirons inviting us to delve deeper into Rites of Passage, Dougald Hine on the continuing influence of Ivan Illich; as well as others who you might know from their contributions to the Dark Mountain anthologies: Bridget McKenzie, who will present ‘Beuysterous’, an all-in-one talk, workshop and art installation, and poet and psychotherapist Steve Thorp with his fascinating session on ‘Unspsychology’. It’s also a real pleasure to welcome Jeppe Graugaard and Morten Svenstrup who will discuss some of the ideas from their ‘Time Culture’ project.
There’s no specific theme this year, though it’s surprising how things tend to weave themselves into relationship – like the Mychorrizae that feature in Bridget’s talk. At ‘Rise and Root’, our opening session, members of Mearcstapa will be encouraging us to explore such weavings and connections, and to keep making them throughout the weekend. And finally, I’m very excited and delighted that the Parachute Stage will be hosting performances from the amazing Metaforestry, and from Persephone Pearl of Feral Theatre. There will also be a certain badger…
As well as having to do with the Parachute Stage, I’m involved with Mearcstapa who will once again be adding a sense of otherness to the weekend. In particular I’ll be contributing an installation called ‘Charnel House for Roadkill’. It’s something to look out for in the woods, but it’s also an opportunity for those who want to participate in what will be a kind of relay performance piece running throughout the festival. If you’re interested in taking part, then please contact me beforehand (email: email@example.com). Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you at what’s shaping up to be an unforgettable weekend.
Uncivilisation 2013 takes place at the Sustainability Centre, nr Petersfield, Hampshire over the weekend of 15-19 August. Tickets available through Eventbrite.