Submerged in qathet!

Over the past two years, our team collaborated with local residents in qathet to re-envision the show, Submerged. With Keely Sill’s troupe of newly trained aerialists, local musicians Sophia Sanford, Lesley Sutherland, and Dennis Bowman, the amazing team of self-advocates at Inclusion Powell River, and many more, we explored what lies beneath the surface of our lives; the stories and emotions submerged below. While this journey had us reckoning with grief and loss, there was plenty of light and magic as well.

We were honoured to host 7 sold out shows in qathet this past August.

The involvement of local indigenous communities has been integral to the development and productions of The Rainforest Circus: Submerged. In each community we have visited we have had meaningful dialogue and engagement with local first nations to better understand the land and to gain their perspective on the theme of Submerged.

We are grateful for their blessings to put on a theatrical production on their traditional territories, the forests of their ancestors. We are also extremely grateful for the stories, guidance, and grounding all along the journey.

The show offered us all (audience and collaborator alike) the opportunity to reflect on the collective processing and healing that is happening around the world and provided an example for how the arts can be involved in the ongoing work of decolonization and reconciliation.

A Community Engaged-Circus Tour

Submerged is an ongoing experiment in community-engaged arts practice. Over the past four summers, a group of professional artists visited five different ocean-bound communities to collaborate on the development and production of a “circus in the forest,”  inspired by the theme of water. In the first two years youth, elders and other participants from the Sunshine Coast, Malcolm Island, Gabriola Island, and Esquimalt worked with this core artist team to devise vignettes and installations. 

 In 2018, we collaborated with community members of the Sunshine Coast and Malcolm Island to create and produce a theatrical performance in the forest: Submerged. In 2021 we produced a unique version of Rainforest Circus: Submerged with the community in qathet.

Past Rainforest Productions

Looking back at 7 Years of Rainforest Circus

The Rainforest Circus began with a simple vision: an audience wandering through the woods, stumbling upon performances and installations; a violinist on a tree stump, a story-teller at the foot of a tree, a ceramic creature dangling from branches above.

In 2009, our first year, 350 audience members showed up, donned masks and—trundling through some surprise August rain—turned this vision into reality. Since then, the circus has grown exponentially. In 2014 & 2015, the Circus went on the road, with sold-out shows in Porpoise Bay Provincial Park in Sechelt and Shirley Macey Park in Gibsons. The productions included aerial hoops, duelling drum kits and the wildest dinner scene ever set in a forest.

The Rainforest Circus is now undergoing another evolution that involves collaborating with youth, elders and artists to produce a community-engaged arts show.  Submerged is the first of these projects.

Special thanks to our Rainforest Circus partners, sponsors and funders.

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