Come and help us open the Fairy Portal

The artistic director of Slung Low, Alan Lane, talks about the first day of the Fairy Portal camp at the RSC

In Avonbank Gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon there is currently a tented village. A bonfire. A stage. A canteen. A pizza oven. A band. A big wigwam.

Everything you need, in fact, to open a portal to the fairy world. Which is our mission. To create the perfect ceremony that will connect us and the fairies.

And we’re doing it in this camp. People visit us during the day and join in our activity, willow weaving, songwriting, cooking lunch, whatever needs doing. At each meal time we feed the first 100 people to turn up. Each evening we perform on our makeshift stage that sits next to the bonfire.

We opened yesterday and served soup for lunch to 110, and Thai curry at 7pm. We painted the faces of children and some adults. We conjured the woodland god Herne. We sang songs with the theatre company Rash Dash and Benji Kirkpatrick. We improvised a new Chaucer tale based on an audience member’s experience of fairies.

The Fairy Portal Camp isn’t necessarily the sort of world we’ve created before, and at least a couple of times we’ve been asked why we’re trying to open the portal to the fairy world. The reasons are these: creating the space and time for people to come together to think about magic, and other worlds, other possibilities, and the world we live in – that’s something worth my time. Bringing people together, in a celebration of collaboration and performance, generously feeding people both food and attention – that’s worth my time. Because in the face of difficult times, dancing with strangers in public spaces may well be a radical act; at the very least feeding them for free is a political one. And in this week of all weeks working towards the removal of borders of any sort seems to me a very useful thing.

On Saturday we’ll be joined by 300 people who are going to try and open the portal to the fairy world

And in the Royal Shakespeare Company we found a daring, thoughtful, supportive partner which was willing to explore different paths to the material and worlds they have so long and so well presented.

And so last night we served 100 bowls of food, and I put on my kilt and welcomed the audience to our wood smoke-soaked performance, just like I’ll be doing every night this week. Until on Saturday when we’ll be joined by 300 people who are going to try and open the portal to the fairy world.

The Fairy Portal Camp can be found on the banks of the River Avon, on Southern Lane in Stratford-upon-Avon, just across from the RSC’s The Other Place. The camp is open from 11am every day this week, is free to attend with no ticket required. On Saturday 25 June the ceremony to open the Fairy Portal takes place at 8pm. The ceremony is free, but a ticket is required. More information is available here. #FairyPortalCamp