‘Half life‘ may have turned out to have had a more flexible meaning than the title it provided for the 2007 collaborative performance between NVA and The National Theatre of Scotland in the forest at the historic Achnabreac, north of Lochgilphead.
When the outdoor performance were over, the specially built wooden stage with its undercroft and fixed raked seating were left to facilitate any future forest events.
But now the old stage has demonstrated a half life of its own. It has started to rot and is now considered a potential safety hazard to the public.
Helen Watt, Forestry Commission Scotland’s recreation manager in West Argyll says: ‘There were some fantastic performances on the stage six years ago when it was all opened but since then it has not really been used.
‘As part of our on-going inspections we found that the stage was starting to rot and is therefore a potential safety hazard to visitors.
‘The stage was great at the time and served its purpose very well but now we need to remove it.’
The stage is currently cordoned off from the public and Forestry Commission Scotland intends to remove it within the next four weeks.
The wooden seating area next to the stage is structurally sound so will remain.
At the time of the performances, we – and everyone – revelled in the excitement of the event itself: the gathering a a lit marquee on Lochgilphead’s front green at the head of the loch as darkness fell.
The exotic red double decker buses that bravely bumped thier way up the forest track at Achnabreac, their headlights picking up the texture of the verges, the tree trunks, the amber stacks of harvested timber, the clearing where the bus turned – and a path carving its way into the forest ahead, with ground level lights highlighting the trees at the side and leading the way onwards.
Then there was the clearing for the performance, with the stage a great vertical fan of cut trees, framing a high level timber stage and with visible space below, punctuated by stout support timbers. The photograph below shows the structural timbers which supported the stage – which was made simply by laying chipboard sheets on top of these.
It was utterly magical.
We won’t revisit our assessment of the performance event – which was woefully misplaced for such a setting, entirely word-bound and therefore unable to relate physically to the context.
The experience of getting there was more than enough.
We did feel agthe time thatthe gesture of leaving the infrastructure for future performances was a tad expedient and now, indeed, Forestry Commission Scotland are doing a belated strike.
The Commission were wonderful partners in this event and the forest an uforgettable experience. We hope that they find other ventures in outdoor performative event to being us all closer in this ysterious way to the forests we live with.