Stravaig Theatre Blog

A more personal account of what we are working on and our process

24 April 2022

Think of a stage.

You're probably thinking of a raised platform framed with a proscenium arch and thick red curtains, or a completely blackened room with extra intimate seating.  

Was that close to what was in your head? Well, you wouldn't be wrong but that's not the only kind of stage that exists.

We've been reflecting this week on just how far we've been able to reach with our performance work; the wide variety of performance spaces we've been able to work with.

If you study theatre or performance, you'll probably have or will read The Empty Space by Peter Brook . Even if you don’t  quite make it past the first chapter*, it's undoubtedly one of THE most inspiring texts in theatre academia. The premise being that any empty space can be a stage (or performance area). 

Stravaig Theatre firmly believes that all spaces can inspire creativity and have performance potential. We love space, the stranger and further out the better. Sometimes we go to the space and sometimes we bring the space to us.    

Don’t get us wrong, we do love a black box studio. However, we look for ways that we can use media to transport the audience in front of us as far away from that black box as possible. 

*Please note that Stravaig Theatre accepts no responsibility for students not completing their reading homework (just saying)

Where we work 

So far, we have created theatrical events live on the street, in a back garden, on the beach and now most recently we are creating in a forest. 

Our current rehearsal studio and base for working is a disused canteen in Motherwell (it’s huge, and it’s fab.) Perhaps you think of a theatrical event as something you sit down and witness from the safety of the auditorium. Our perception of live theatre is different to this. 

With some of our work, we never see the audience and never get the applause at the end, especially with our audio guide theatre. Our audio guides are events that never end and are therefore always live. If the space still stands, even if it alters over time, our art will be there as a marker for what the space is and was after we are gone.

When we did What the Dickens at Christmas time, we had to have a smaller,  intimate audience due to the show being live in the narrow and busy streets of Edinburgh old town. The audience gathered, probably not quite knowing what to expect, and were whisked away into the past to take an evening walk with Charles Dickens. With suspended disbelief, and festive spirit on our side, we found the audience fell into the given circumstances instantly, shouting for Mr Dickens without hesitation. We found that this relaxed and almost regular setting of a walk in the street created a conversational atmosphere. Dickens enthusiasts enjoyed making sure we had done our research, and  those with a repertoire of terrible jokes enjoyed sharing them with complete strangers. The whole event was alive in a way that struggles to be experienced in your standard auditorium. 

Site Specific 

This is theatre which takes place on location to either exactly where a play is set or generally a similar environment. For example, a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream taking place in a forest, is site specific and this location would be relevant to the overall plot and themes of the play. The same play done in an industrial park, while less obviously relevant, is site specific and perhaps attempting to refresh the frequently reprised play and instigate a different perspective. 

Pros of Site-Specific Work

  • brings a new life or energy into a play
  • brings you closer to the environment of the play and therefore you are more empathetic towards it
  • it’s more accessible to new companies that can’t afford to build or store set
  • sometimes a play is site specific because the location plays as big a part in the narrative as the characters. This is the case in the play Further Than the Furthest Thing by Zinnie Harris.

Why space matters to us

As much as we love going to the commercial and well-known theatres, these are not accessible to newcomer or emerging theatre companies. So, where does that leave us? Well, everywhere else. If we widen the perspective of theatre beyond the confines of a traditional building, the possibilities for theatre events become limitless. 

We are inspired by local heritage, whether it be historical, mythological or the culture that already exists in the place we are working. The clues to the heritage of a place are already there, we simply bring your attention to them so that they can be appreciated. Why should these matter? Apart from being interesting, we need to know and understand our inherited past to know where we should go in the future. Invisible Theatre, originated by Theatre of the Oppressed, is a form of performance, almost in the style of a flash mob event. Except, unlike a flash mob, the public around them may never know that they are witnessing a theatrical event because it is a mundane action.  What’s the point in that? We think theatre goes beyond a form of entertainment and can be used as a way of having a conversation with society and as practitioners we do not always need to claim ownership of the lasting impression that is created. 

In our latest work in Arkaig forest we will be using the space to tell the narrative of the place. Without too many spoilers, there is a story being told by the actual forest itself, all we are doing is pointing it out. No, the trees don’t talk to you…but they show off their past full of pain, destruction, and misunderstanding , as well as their current narrative which is one of healing and re-growth. 


We have absolutely only covered the tip of the iceberg here. We wanted to share our opinion and perhaps start a conversation, especially with people who only have experience and knowledge of traditional theatre. Please do investigate these practitioners below for some examples and further reading on site specific work.

If you think we should add someone to the list, you have any questions or points you’d like to bring up, please email Remember to be kind and respectful, this blog is always in light hearted spirit. 

Some practitioners we are inspired by:

Punch Drunk

Theatre of the Oppressed (Invisible Theatre)

Janet Cardiff 

One Step at a Time Like This 

Back-to-Back Theatre 

Peter Brook 



Getting Acquainted with Arkaig Forest and Five Fun Forest Activities

23rd of March 2022

Over the weekend, Scott and Emma survived... camped in Arkaig Forest to really get to know the space. Two nights camping in a tent and on the last night we treated ourselves to a stay at Invermallie bothy.     

Camping at Loch Arkaig 

Over the three days we immersed ourselves in the space. We workshopped a range of theatrical games and activities, letting our creativity open up the space. The workshop activities helped us feel more familiar and at ease in the forest compared to when we first arrived. 

Being in a pitch black forest, next to a vast stretch of water, that at night completely blends in with the  star scattered sky, was a bit daunting at first. However the peace and quiet (except from the calls of the nocturnal neighbors) was truly a restful experience. 

The forest is home to many fantastic Scottish creatures such as ospreys, salmon and even wild (supposedly man-eating) pigs! If that isn't spooky enough, there is said to be a kelpie-like demon hiding at the bottom of the loch (gulp.) 

Let's take a look at our creative process over the weekend. Then keep scrolling for some pics of the bothy we stayed in.

Activity One: 'Get Lost' 

Our first activity was called Get Lost as we quite literally aimed to get lost. We followed pre-written directions which lead us away from our camp and each other. We wanted to embrace and contemplate the feeling of being lost and alone in such a vast, unknown space. With a mixture of apprehension and excitement we discovered that we could trust our instincts and be present in the space and enjoy a while of solitude. 

Activity Two:  'Camp Flag'

Along our solo travels we each foraged for art supplies that we could borrow from the forest. We brought our findings back to camp and used them to create ourselves a camp flag. We even made use of the loch water to dampen our paint brushes. The end result is the photograph above.

Coming from the first task which was very inward and mindful, there was a fantastic burst of energy going into the second task. Pleased to share our foraged items and talk about our journey, we appreciated the contrast of making playful, messy art together. 

Activity Four: 'Forest Silent Disco' 

After a few hours of letting the forest be our guide, it was our turn to bring something to the forest. We had the exact same set up as a normal silent disco, playing the same song through a wireless earphone each, we danced and moved around our forest nightclub. It was like dancing alone in your room except even better because we were in a forest. Free of judgment and definitely not holding back we explored a variety of music and sounds. We considered how they complimented or contrasted with the space. Most of all, we had totally unfiltered fun. We highly recommend trying it!

Activity Five:  'Jam Session'

Then we kept the good times rolling and made a little music using the forest landscape as our instruments. 

It was interesting to have modern technology mingling with such a natural, historical landscape. During these activities we experienced great freedom, but also a sense of humbling as we gained an appreciation for all that this environment serves for us. 

Activity Three: 'Blind Folded Nature Walk'

To truly connect with the environment we decided that we should lose our site. Again this stirred some mix feelings and definitely changed our relationship with the space and how we moved through it. As well as each other, we relied on our other senses to guide us. Though we stepped tentatively, our deep focus  helped us appreciate what we had been missing; the spongey feeling of moss on the trees we grabbed at to step over stumps, the increasing volume of the flowing stream and the denser smell of bark which let us know how to make our next move. Of course, the string we had tied to the trees to guide us also supported us but with every step we became more at ease and, for the most part, we let the forest take hold of us. 



Then, very much intertwined and in tune with our surrounding we took some time to creatively reflect on our experiences. Using Arkaig forest and all that dwells in side as our stimulus we had some individual writing time. We collaborated and shared our new pieces with each other by our camp fire, with our flag proudly flying and the sun setting over Arkaig Loch.

Arkaig Forest

11th of March 2022

We are one of eight artists of varying practices who have been invited to install their work here in Arkaig Forest. Meeting with them was inspiring, it is fantastic to mingle with other creatives and share our ideas. Together, with the guiding expertise of the site manager Henry Dobson, we explored this fascinating land. 

This project has been founded by The Woodland Trust, we are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to work with them and the local community of the surrounding areas of Arkaig Forest.

Collectively, our aim is to guide visitors of the forest off the beaten track and onto paths untraveled so that the heritage of Arkaig can be appreciated in full. 

Heritage + environment = Stravaig Theatre heaven!

This is an ancient forest, some trees even pre-historic. Once dense with thriving pine trees, this forest has been a setting of folklore and history. Scorched by a detrimental fire in the 40s, damaged by a lack of understanding in the 70s, and constantly munched by the local residents (deer that is), this is now a place of healing and cleansing. As such, Stravaig Theatre aim to create something that offers the opportunity for reflection and presence with the land.


Our next step is to get more personally acquainted with Arkaig Forest and so we will be staying there, living and working as frequently as possible. 


We hope you enjoy being a part of the adventure by keeping up to date with our process and fun antics. 

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