A Queer Forest Fantasy in Two Parts

Format: Performance & Film
Premiere: 07 Oct 2021
Venue: Ballhaus Ost, Berlin
Language: English (Performance) / Language no problem (Film)
Duration: 75 min (Performance) / 32 min (Film)
Publication: Online PDF

Direction, text, performance, design: Chris Gylee & Aslan
Light design:
Elliott Cennetoglu
Sound design (Performance):
Mars Dietz
Original soundtrack (Film):
Elie Gregory
Óscar González
Documentation film & trailer:
Ethan Folk
Graphic design:
Kruse & Müller
Production management:
ehrliche arbeit — freies Kulturbüro

Funded by: Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media in the frame of NEUSTART KULTUR.
Kindly supported by: The Finnish Institute in Germany; the Old Mine Residency, Outokumpu, Finland; the residency programme schloss bröllin e.V., supported by the Ministerium für Bildung Wissenschaft und Kultur des Landes Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Landkreis Vorpommern-Greifswald.

KARELIA was shortlisted for the Stückemarkt 2022.

To view either the documentation film of Femmes of the Forest, or the film of Alone Among the Trees, please email us.

KARELIA imagines Queer lives beyond the city by exploring how love can thrive in quiet places. In a live stage-work, Gylee and Aslan explore desire, a new life close to the land, and the possibility of staying Queer alone among the trees. Deep in the forest they journey through time to three different worlds. Setting out from their house in the woods in the present day, the performers travel back to the time of the witch trials, and finally fly into a sci-fi future beyond the stars.

Can Queer lives flourish outside the city?

In Karelia, a region of forests straddling the border between Finland and Russia, the artists found a perfect place of inspiration within this territory of romantic legends — as well as the lonely reality of the forest itself. They asked: What are we fleeing from? What are we running to?
The live performance, woven from words, begins at a table set for a feast in front of a handmade green-and-blue tapestry. The online film, meanwhile, streamed from the Ballhaus Ost website, compliments the onstage triptych with images of the Karelian forest, the dark rustling of leaves, and the cracking of branches underfoot. The two interwoven parts of KARELIA transform the forest into a third protagonist.

Does the forest render us vulnerable?

The above images include photographs by Óscar González  and stills taken from Alone Among the Trees.

KARELIA is a ONCE WE WERE ISLANDS production in cooperation with Ballhaus Ost.

Additional thanks to:  Christina Klessmann at Weberloft, Berlin; Teija Vaittinen and her parents; Ben & Annie at the Barracks; Mika Minetti & Mikaela Mäkelä at the Finnish Institute; our co-residents and the team at The Old Mine in Outokumpu; Martin, Marcin and the team at Schloss Bröllin; Lina B. Frank at Cirkus Syd; Lea Martini; Ethan Folk; Alessandro Marzotto; Mar, Marlin, & Loi; Joseph Morgan Schofield; Kate Gallon; Elena Poltzer; Dominique Hurth; Nitsan Margaliot; Jason Corff;Juliana, Arvid, and Frances Bird; Polvijärvi, Sarkiselkä, Honkalampi, Kalaton.