The Speed of Wood (2023-)

The Speed of Wood is/was an art-ecology project led by Unlimited Core Artist Ali Pidsley exploring what the worlds of collaborative theatre-making and woodland ecology have to learn from each other.

“The Speed of Wood is about, purely and simply, ‘trees’. From the ecological angle, the issues I want to address are about a new understanding of the climate crisis & how we can combat it, how we – as a community – can adopt an ‘ecological mindset’. From the theatre-making angle, the focus is on co-creation; working with others to make a piece of performance. The two angles are – I hope – very much connected: can the way we interact with our woodlands teach us about how to receive, interact with and make art, and can the way we make live performance teach us about how to live with and nurture our woodlands? Can a symbiotic relationship between woodland ecology and theatre ecology ultimately train us into being more active and more engaged citizens?

I am not a scientist or a politician, I am a theatre-maker, and the way I know how to respond to what I see and hear is to make stuff, and to help other people make stuff – stories, a piece of performance, an imaginative journey, an emotional bond. But that making can also be scientific & tactile – making an ecosystem, a stool made from waste wood, a living for a craftsperson using skills nearly forgotten.”

Ali’s dream for The Speed of Wood is that a series of skill and knowledge-sharing workshops are hosted in various woodlands around Yorkshire – initially – with collaborative theatre-makers, ecologists, scientists and woodland crafts-people, and that that will form the basis of a piece of live performance in some form. There are a lot of unknowns with this project. What is clear to us is that it is a process-driven project, and that hopefully that process will be iterative and will regenerate itself.  Either way, some time will be had in the great outdoors, and we will learn something from each other.

The project was launched as part of unFinale in September 2023. Check out Ali’s site for updates.