Good Words in the Woods

Interested in creating space for intimate exchange between strangers, Joslyn created Good Words in the Woods, a sanctuary in the forest where people were compelled to slow dance and whisper nice things into each other’s ears.

As part of Whitehorse’s Theatre in the Bush, Good Words in the Woods was set up as a station on a circuit that groups of audience members were guided between. Each time an audience approached, Joslyn secretly joined them as they entered her soft circle of curtains and lights hung between trees, where Billie Holiday was softly playing.

With everyone entering as a group into an empty circle, unsure who was ‘running the show,’ people uncertainly gravitated towards the outer edges, standing and looking in at each other, awkwardly waiting for the bell that signified the beginning of each performance.

When it rang, Joslyn walked through the crowd and approached an individual, quietly asking them to dance so that no one around could hear, then drawing them in to the center of the circle with her.

As they slow danced with their arms around each other and everyone looking on, Joslyn began whispering kind words into their ear – complimenting them on something they were wearing, their comfort in dancing, their braveness in entering the center of attention with her, anything nice she noticed about them.

The rest of the audience stood watching, entirely unsure what kind of exchange was taking place before them.

After a few moments Joslyn would ask her dance partner to go ask another person to dance – and if, while they were dancing, they noticed anything nice about the other person, they should tell them so.

Joslyn would then find a new partner as well, beginning a chain reaction of people asking each other to dance, until the entire audience were in each other’s arms, speaking in hushed tones, giggling, and blushing.

The exercise was repeated with each of the five circuiting audience groups.