For the 2010 festival Joanna has taken her inspiration from forests: forests as a place of quiet, reflective beauty, mystery and discovery, as places of fairytale narrative, as well as metaphorical spaces. She has invited artists to create forests all over the Royal Opera House in different materials: recycled and reclaimed wood, organic materials, old costumes and mannequins, shimmering projections and reflecting pools. There are films, music and dance performances, soundscapes and installations.Fairy tale highlights include:
Into the Woods: a cinema – unlike any you have visited – will occupy the Clore Studio Upstairs, as distinguished writer and cultural historian Marina Warner introduces and discusses a programme of fairytale-inspired films. The delicious little Russian-language animations Kuygorozh and Little Vasilisa (2007) partner the darker worlds of Joan Ashworth’s How Mermaids Breed (2002) and Alice Anderson’s The Night I Became a Doll (2009).
The German silhouette animator and film director Lotte Reiniger’s magnificently opulent and imaginative The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) was only discovered and reconstructed in the last few years, and is considered the world’s oldest-surviving feature length animation. Over the weekend it receives four screenings, with a wonderful contemporary score composed and performed live by WARP artist Mira Calix. Reiniger’s better known Fairytales – brief, endearing animations from 1922 – form the basis and backdrop of scorching performances from the Rumanian violinist Alexander Balanescu and Russian accordionist and singer Evelina Petrova, combining the brilliant virtuosity of improvisation with raw, aching qualities of Russian folk music and singing.There are many more intriguing and tantalising descriptions of events and installations to explore on the website. I'd really recommend clicking though. And if you can get there, book and go and come back and tell us what it was like—the daytime events are free!
Because I will, unfortunately, be nowhere near London, or even a forest, this weekend I thought I would take solace in a couple of my favourite forest links. They are both from the treasure chest that is the JOMA archives: Into the Woods: On British Forests, Myth and Now is an interesting exploration of forests by poet Ruth Padel. The Green Man & the Green Woman: Art Inspired by Forest Myths features a fascinating essay by Terri Windling and is accompanied by beautiful artwork from Windling, Charles Vess, Alan Lee, the Frouds and others.
Photo by Graham Dean, used with permission.