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Fashion in the Forest

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The steps of Fashion in the Forest
A group of local young people from Plumbland and Parsonby worked alongside staff from Grampus Heritage & Training (who manage the theatre) to develop the idea.  The development included attending an event supported by the European Union's 'Youth' programme, in Slovakia in October 2004.  After this, an application was made to 'Youth' for a grant and help was received from the Cumbria Youth Alliance.

In June 2005, the youth leaders from 6 countries, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom, met at Ashgill to do some final planning

In August 2005 the 48 young people and 12 youth leaders descended on the Ashgill forest theatre site for a 'Youth Exchange' event, including a social and cultural programme and two-week workshop to create costumes, decoration, music, song and dance, inspired by 'the forest'.  The final event was held at the theatre and was a combination of drama, folklore with a contemporary angle and a fashion show.  
The whole
performance was  concieved by the young people, organised by them and delivered by them in only two weeks
The Participants
  The groups came from Germany Dübener Heode Naturpark), Slovenia (Vitra Sustainable Development), Slovakia (Stropkov Art & Cultural Centre), Bulgaria (Shevitza), Finland (Lahti & Jämsä) and from the United Kingdom (Grampus in West Cumbria).  They were a wide mix of young people.  Some were students of art, media, communications, etc., even a trainee opera singer ! others were still in school.  The age range was 15 to 25 years old.   The diversity of the young people made it easier to cope with all the roles needed during the two week project.
The Concept
As is obvious from the title, this was to be an event inspired by the forest and held 'in the forest'.  It was more than just a fashion show but rather a mix of cultures coming together to create a unique performance..  Although we had our ideas and vision of what it would be like, we wanted the young people to lead the project.  We wanted their ideas to be the forefront of what would be produced.  Our only criteria was that the conceptualisation had to be inspired from the forest environment specifically; and nature in general.  The students would use materials from the forest and, allied with clothing both new and second hand, and utilising some traditional skills, create the fashion show.
The Build Up
So it began.  The young people were first given a tour of the Lake District, to obtain a flavour of our environment.  Other cultural visits included a tour of the West coast of Cumbria, a different part of Cumbria with an equally valuable, unique and influential culture, tradition and landscape.  

young people
then began to discuss amongst themselves what they would do.  Some had come with pre-concieved ideas, some started the process from scratch.

We organised daily meetings, with representatives from each group, so that they could co-ordinate with each other, communicate and share ideas and eventually come up with a coherent whole.

Lights and a P.A system were organised and set up.  Work was being carried out on costumes, on sculptures and on story themes, because most groups were determined to have a story strand, not merely produce a fashion parade.  Usually these ideas invoved the traditional costumes and the myths and legends of the country involved, but not always...
The Show
... For example, The Germans did a piece of theatrical horror set to music

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The couple waylaid by an evil forest demon(ess)

drogonfly carved by Germans

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German lovers encounter evil fairies

The triumphant evil Peter

On the whole it was an enjoyable time for all, with a wonderful, creative show to cap it all off.  Please enjoy some more photos of the event. 

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Slovakian "natural" accessorising

The U.K group gather together to worship at Natures' feet

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Leda, the Bulgarian Youth Leader is queen of the faeries

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A Slovenian forest gnome

Slovak traditional dancing

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Something off the shoulder

Going "natural"

Traditional Bulgarian dress

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