THE TREE PLAY
The Tree Play is an original agitprop folk tale for the theatre, provoked by the deforestation of the Amazon. The play's multidisciplinary, open staging urges actors and audience to share an exploration of themes of love, survival and our kinship with Nature.
The Tree Play premiered
August 6 - 8, 2015 at the Ground Floor Theatre
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A Little More About The Tree Play
I first conceived this project as a play-with-movement in the summer of 2011, inspired by reports I read about deforestation in the Amazon and the struggles of environmentalists to stir an official response to halt the destruction of the rainforest. The initial draft was completed within weeks and sat patiently in a pile of paperwork for two years. Dusted off and handed to an excellent group of artists, The Tree Play enjoyed a private reading and discussion in September 2013 at Casa Polgar. At last it gets a chance to germinate on the Austin stage.
When I think about putting on a play I like to create a world where the audience feels a kinship with the staged goings on. I ask everyone sets aside old assumptions about what it means to “attend a play.” That has led to translating classic stage plays to unorthodox settings or re-imagining the playing space to create a more intimate, audience-implicating experience. Or staging a play in a derelict airport hangar. In short: I love to mess with the theatre-going experience.
For The Tree Play I want to evoke a living, breathing forest, in which the audience is arrayed as if sitting under great trees in a far-away jungle, immersed in the environment and pressed close to the action. Because the play is an agitprop folk tale, the responsibility for creating this environment falls (mostly) on the performers and not on an extravagant set design or technical effects. It’s all about how we tell/perform the story. Audiences must piece together a personal sense of “forest” that evolves from the movement and sounds created by the company; the proximity of the patrons to the playing area and to the characters serves to heighten the tension of the play. (That's the plan, anyway!)
The Tree Play is issue-centric and while it's not hard to figure out where the playwright’s loyalties lie, contradictions abound. Patrons will have to arrive at their own conclusions; the play resolves in an altogether apolitical manner. Hopefully this moves the story beyond simple answers and, after a good night out, all participants will leave the theatre with a new perspective.
I can’t for a moment think an Austin audience hasn’t experienced the theatrics we're planning for The Tree Play. And yet . . .
- The raw, open presentation style contrasted with the sophisticated (I hope!) storytelling
- The simplistic setting and the complex characters who reside within and around the playing space
- The onstage realism and the self-awareness that this we’re putting on a play
- Not to mention the forest “magic”
. . . ought to affect attendees and, just maybe, incite them to learn more about the world's resources and why they must be well tended.
Robi Polgar (writer/director)
September 19, 2013
If you wish to read The Tree Play please contact Robi.