Singapore Fringe Festival 2023
Presenting the world’s first play told entirely from the point of view of a tree, performed by award-winning Broadway, theatre and TV actress Kathleen Chalfant.
Trees talk! In a landmark study, a scientist learned everything about how trees communicate—or did she? One tree tells the story of what really happened, reminding us that human beings and plants live in one interconnected ecosystem.
To experience this site-specific audio play, find a tree near you, sit under it (or nearby), press play, and listen to the tree’s confessions.
Do trees talk? Some say so and experiencing Tree Confessions may well persuade us. Tree Confessions is a self-scheduled on demand immersive audio play written by Jenny Lyn Bader and directed by Erin B. Mee. Listening to it is just the beginning of the adventure, we are first directed to sit under or near a tree when listening to the tree’s confessions. Underpinned by Cindy’s research, mentioned several times in the play she is a character based on a real researcher who did a PHD in this topic, and proved that trees communicate with each other in various ways through the vast ecosystems. Award-winning Broadway actor Kathleen Chalfont plays the tree that speaks to us in this thirty five minute audio play. Chalfont is beguiling and commanding as she confesses the world of tree life and draws us in immediately with the tree’s point of view with wit and humanity.
Finding a tree to sit under is an interesting first step as I was in a park looking at several trees from which to select my new friend. Having found a medium sized tree I sat under it and then near it while listening to Chalfont tell stories of important elder trees in the dynasty and parental advice to young trees, the cold January weather made me want to keep moving and so I walked around the tree while listening – and viewed it from different angles – noticing the surrounding trees, tall saplings and short shrubs and wondered how they were feeling.
Bader’s astute script is imaginative, witty, persuasive and sensitive to the lifetime of trees and their issues. Combined with Chalfont’s multidimensional voice acting and Mee’s creative directing this is a powerful way to awaken or deepen eco consciousness in its listeners. At times the script becomes didactic and Mee swiftly moves us along to the next fascinating strand of our trees thoughts. The latter is the strength of the play as we learn how the trees ‘noticed’ Cindy and her measuring equipment and decided to help her so they could could move on with their lives without disturbance….another noted how posture is important to a tree to allow them to make choices later as they choose to lean and reach out to nearby companions.
Tree Confessions is an outstanding way to experience theatre as an audio play during lockdown, internationally – and especially now as the world gets back to a new normal post lockdown. Bader and Mee are collaborators who have created innovative and visionary alternate modes of experiencing theatre on demand, in self-scheduled times, viewable around the world – or set in other non-traditional settings such as a New York City swimming pool.
Participating in Tree Confessions was a novel and enlightening experience that anyone can do any place. It is a polished production that is not only entertaining but is also very meaningful and creative. It will certainly make me more aware of the trees I pass whether in parks or along the wayside, in a good way!