Wilderness summary

Today has been a day of recovery. I’ve been gently reinserting myself into the world, and sending my thoughts back to the last few days in that field. What were my highlights? It’s hard because I didn’t have a programme so I don’t know the names of the acts, and I was mostly following my nose. There’s always something to stumble on and I stumbled on plenty. There was a remarkable woman who did one of the most committed and honest comedy sets I’ve ever seen while Justice were playing on main stage. She was an inspiration but I don’t even know her name. She was particularly great as she followed a self-important tirade of witty but alienating vitriol from the previous act. She gave one of the most powerful yet vulnerable angry clear mad sets I’ve ever seen. In fact I have to look her up as it is wrong not to credit her. She opened her set being dragged on, screaming in panic, not wanting to do it anymore. Beneath the character she was committing wholeheartedly. It was proper dark clown stuff. There was no clever demonstration. I love people who don’t count the cost. She asked us a lot of questions about our expectations, our prejudices and our assumptions. It was nasty brilliant sharp comedy. Lucy Mccormick. We had a 22 year old American girl in our group who is now determined to be a comedian.

I barely went to mainstage to see the big acts. I caught Nile Rodgers because he’s a legend and I fell into Bastille and heard them murder Rhythm is a Dancer. I mostly went to the sideshows.


There were some gorgeously articulate magpie puppets that were collecting secrets. A parade on the Saturday of remarkable large scale puppets, that felt like a mini mardi gras with fewer bands and beautifully telling puppetry again. I spent some time watching a very adept trapeze troupe do a narrative act with great skill. I wrote my insecurities to the insecurity guards. I had my face painted by Squiggles and Wiggles. Then, with my frankly terrifying Facepaint I went to silent speed dating and wondered why none of the butterflies woke me up.

There was a new tent this year – the Togetherness Tent – that was about connection. Working in schools occasionally I observe how young people are now being brought up in a touch-isolated manner. It’s a tent filled with the smell of Palo Santo where people are encouraged to connect with strangers in a way that isn’t sexual. Living in London, this crowded city of islands, I can see how important this work is. It fits at a festival like Wilderness, even if there was one guy shouting “This is why I voted leave” during a gong bath. For the same reason I was moved by how readily people welcomed the tarot, I was struck by how desperate people seem to be for uncomplicated human connection – for a chance to drop the front for a while. I hope that tent comes back. I’m going to build on what I was doing this year and pitch for a larger scale thing next year, as I think it’s needed and it’ll feed my heart at the same time.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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