KARELIA by ONCE WE WERE ISLANDS 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?
Direction, text, performance, design: Chris Gylee & Aslan
Light design: Elliott Cennetoglu 
Sound design (Performance): Mars Dietz
Original soundtrack (Film): Elie Gregory
Photography: 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.