When you were little, did you ever make forts out of pillows and blankets? Inside this cozy spot, you could escape the world around you and pretend you were anywhere. In Spellbound Theater’s latest play, Under the Tree, Pea, a young girl, travels to a make-believe world of “shifting light, shape and time” in her own backyard.
Using materials such as fabric, jewelry, beads, and paper from the MFTA warehouse, Spellbound Theater’s artists built a magical set in a tent in Park Slope where visitors can hide away from the rest of the world. Under the Tree is an immersive performance installation where children and families can feel and experience a secret world as they join Pea on an adventure.
Director Lauren Jost said, ”It calls on the artists’ memories of tree houses, pillow forts, and crawl spaces under the stairs…all the places we used to imagine were our secret worlds as children. We used fabric, lumber, beads, strings, and projectors to create the puppets and setting of this unique, interactive show.”
To construct the main ‘tree’ elements that make up the structure’s roof, they used a mix of green and brown textiles, torn, cut into strips, and then tied together. Pea, the star puppet made out of fabric swatches, ribbons, and wires, encourages the audience to project themselves on her through her unpainted face and fantastical form. The set is made primarily from strips of fabric, resembling the blanket forts Lauren built as a child. Even the decorative clothespins grew out of childhood memories.
Everything can be touched on the set. Under the Tree is an enchanting performance piece that doubles as a visual art installation that can be discovered and interacted with by young audience members through the context of a story.
“Our aesthetic is very hand-crafted and we want everything we have in this show to look like it is made out of familiar materials, but even though it looks slapped together during an afternoon play date, weeks of planning and buckets of hot glue went into ensuring that our props were up to the challenge of the audience,” writes Lauren.
You can read more about Under the Tree’s development phase at the Miranda Arts Project Space and view photos of Lauren and Visual Artist Christine Dehne’s creative process as they transform the space into a wonderland full of surprises.
“This original new work of theater for young audiences required a great deal of physical materials, and the donations we received from Materials for the Arts were an incredible gift, without which our production would not have been possible,” said Lauren.
Discover the hidden world Under the Tree in the ‘backyard’ of the Old Stone House (336 Third Street, Brooklyn) this Sunday, June 9 at 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, and 4:00 pm. The performance is designed for 16 audience members at a time. The show will also run June 16 and 23 at the same times. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children.
Lauren writes, “As an artist, it is such an honor to be a part of a young person’s first aesthetic experiences and contribute to their imaginative life. Under the Tree is very much a show that I would have wanted to see when I was four and a place I would have wanted to live when I was four. I hope that it is equally exciting to some of our visitors.”
Spellbound Theatre is a Brooklyn-based theater for families. Puppeteers, actors, storytellers, and writers create imaginative works for audiences of all ages. Their summer Creative Play classes(running June 3 – July 24) for young children uses theatrical principles and activities to support early development of social, physical, and imaginative skills.