After being forced to reschedule due to -20 temperatures the previous week, “Sonnets in the Snow” really did happen this past Sunday. Unintentionally, it wound up a Valentine’s Day activity, and the stalwart souls who left Bozeman in -5 F or worse, were pleasantly rewarded with a balmy 5 above in the mountains. Many skiers were seen comfortably taking their gloves off to snap photos and even shedding coats because they were getting too warm!
The weather was surprisingly mild, the terrain stunning, and our hearts warmed by the delight of coming around a trail bend to see one of the day’s performers. They’d fill the still, crystalline air with a gorgeous sonnet or two.
“There was no stage; the snow and the trees were the stage. The setting was the set,” performer John Hosking said. “It was a different feeling to be out in the woods and occasionally asked for a performance. I’ve played music in coffee shops and sometimes had requests. It was a little like that. It seemed more like being a troubadour, a traveling musician who is asked by another traveler to sing a song.”
Hosking had been concerned about the cold and was, like all his skiing and snowshoeing audience members, grateful for the comfortable weather. He was also surprised by what a delight it all was. “The best part was how happy people were to listen to live performance,” he said. “I hope no one has forgotten how important live performance is.”
It all calls to mind a familiar sentiment, but perhaps stated in reverse order: TV is furniture, film is art, theatre is LIFE. Place-based immersive performance art like “Sonnets in the Snow” takes that sentiment to another level, letting the performance weave itself into the setting, which itself encompasses both performer and audience member. With the chance to immediately discuss the performance with the actor, the separation between actor and audience was further blurred. Was this a performance? A surprise trailside conversation? A pop-up poetry recitation? Yes, to all. And something more too.
It was permission. It’s not every day that you might be trekking in the mountains, come across a stranger on the trail and ask (without awkward consequence), “Could you provide me something beautiful?” By any chance, do you have any extra… art?
That was precisely what happened this past February 14th and what a Valentine it was for all involved.
There’s already talk of something like this happening again. Perhaps in the summer. Perhaps on another Valentine’s Day. Whether a pandemic is driving us to provide theatre out in the snowy hills or not! Montana InSite Theatre seems to have happened onto something really lovely. We can’t wait to try this out again!
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