Sailing circus show Ripples

Hawila Project continued its collaboration with the circus company Acting for Climate, with the artistic performance Ripples.

Ripples is a contemporary circus performance about eco-grief and utopia, which sailed across the Baltic Sea to inspire people to act for a more sustainable future. The performance was played on the 19-metre-long sailing ship S/V Swallow, partner of Hawila. Swallow acted as a site-specific stage, accommodation, and means of transport for the group. Ripples was organised by Acting for Climate, Hawila Project and Festival Norpas in cooperation with the European Union | Erasmus + programme, Koneen Säätiö | Kone Foundation, the Nordic Culture Point and the Norwegian Culture Fund.

On July 15, the show premiered in Holbæk on the deck and masts of “S/V Swallow”. A few days later, the ship, followed by the smaller vessel “Yggdrasil”, took off from the shore to cross the Baltic sea with a cast and crew of 15 people on board.
After some windless days and stormy nights, the group reaches the first harbour, the idyllic village of Taalintehdas in Finland for Festival Norpas. The tour continues to Helsinki, Saaremaa in Estonia, Copenhagen in Denmark and Tønsberg in Norway.

Ronja, one of the producers of the tour, shares glimpses of her first experience of sailing on a wooden ship:

Nobody in the harbour knows when it’s time to actually go. “It depends on the wind”, our captain Elise tells me. It starts raining and suddenly she jumps into the water to pull the boat out of the harbour—such dedication to sail engineless.
The lack of wind continues. We are now floating in the open sea with burning sun and algae turning the whole sea green. Time at sea makes all stress melt away. Distance to the shore correlates with the distance to ordinary life. Nothing else is left than an endless horizon.

I wake up to the night watch at 3 am. I can’t make up the faces in the dark. Bolts of lightning are flashing far away on the horizon but no sound carries across the sea. A line of fluorescent plankton glimmers behind the ship like a trail.
A cargo ship is approaching while we float still under the rising sun. We turn the ship sideways so they can see our sails and there we stand, unable to do anything else. Slowly the cargo ship changes its course. The next day I wake up too early because I need to pee, and just as I get on deck I feel the first rays of sunlight on my face as it rises behind a rocky Swedish island. Later the day we are slowly learning to get off the anchor, with bruised hands and sleeves covered in salty water as a payment.

After 30 hours of continuous sailing, we approach cloudy Hesselø with a lighthouse that reminds me of Moominpappa at Sea. We get stuck on the wrong side of the island, waves pushing us towards the shore and no wind pushing us the other way. With two dingies the crew tries their best to get the wind back into our sails. All I can do is pass the chocolate around as the rest of us stand there helpless with a mild fear of death. As we finally anchor on the other side right next to beautiful “Maggie Helen”, everyone stays silent while the sun sets. Soon enough, a bottle of blueberry snaps goes around the kitchen accompanied by laughter.
The next day we explore the island and in a pirate costume with an antler in my hand, we march on a farm to eat figs straight out of the tree. Abandoned buildings, graves, whale bones and an endless herd of deer keep astonishing us. In the evening we gather around a bonfire under a starry night and reminisce about the two months at sea that will come to an end tomorrow.

Sailors are not water-people but wind-people, a friend on board points out. You can see it from the captain as she observes the sails with such focused attention. “Do you feel the wind returning, blowing your face?”, she asks me on a still night. The only lights are the orange moon on the dark horizon and the north star on top of the mast.

We would like to thank our partners at Acting for Climate and Festival Norpas as well as the crew, artists and team behind making this summer tour possible!

Photo Credits: Karoline Hill, Samuel Faucherre, Ronja Tammenpää, Elia Husler.