Calling Tree- Tottenham

Rosemary Lee (Director), Simon Whitehead (Director)

    Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchPerformance


    Located in and around a large tree, Calling Tree is a durational performance cycle of songs, movement and messages. Bird-like calls and songs echoed out from the canopy of the tree as performers continually appeared and disappeared, fluctuating between perching to vocal and physical activity. An act of reclamation and activism, the performance is created to reach both the knowing audience and the unwitting passer-by.

    Working with a small team of aerialists, singers and performers, Rosemary and Simon were in residence in a tree in Betws-y-Coed, North Wales for a number of weeks before premiering the performance over two days in summer 2014.

    Originally commissioned by Migrations and developed with support from the Jerwood Choreographic Research Project and ACE.

    Calling Tree was then presented by LIFT London International Festival of Theatre, in a 500 year old oak tree in the heart of Tottenham 2016 and then for the Bloomsbury Festival in St George’s Gardens Bloomsbury.

    Each bespoke manifestation of Calling Tree responds to the tree, its surrounding and to the various communities that share the tree’s environment, human and non-human. Alongside the durational performances other activities are curated, responding to the geographic and socio-political landscape of the site. These have included: local school children creating poetry and dance in response to their meeting the trees, a choir of local singers, walks and talks with ornithologists and ecologists, movement sessions and a traditional participatory dance event under the trees, Beneath the Boughs; a night time curated event with poets and musicians responding to the theme of nature and our relationship to it. Calling Tree significantly develops major concerns of Lee’s work and her desire to stir the audience’s awareness of their natural surroundings, as seen in former works such as Square Dances (2011). As a major durational performance work, and uniquely sited within a tree in a public space, Calling Tree invites the passer-by and the engaged viewer to sense their belonging to, interrelationship with, and co-dependency on the ecological system around them. The research aims are to:
    • Test new forms of durational site-based performance in outdoor public spaces to pose questions about community awareness/engagement, and to stimulate ecological awareness through performance.
    • Generate new insights about performing ‘at height’ to test conventions of
    choreography and performance.
    • Construct new immersive sonic landscapes in public spaces combining
    natural and produced sound to reveal new insights about public response
    to and engagement with outdoor performance.
    • Create a collaborative and transformative performance venture that is
    shaped by the landscape and history of the public space, and is responsive
    to the local community and their relationship with the site.

    Co-produced by LIFT and Artsadmin, presented in association with The Place.
    Imagine 2020 (2.0) and Create to Connect projects, supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union. Supported with public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Additional support from the Adobe Foundation Fund and the London Borough of Haringey.

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2016


    • site specific
    • choreography
    • Dance
    • outdoor performance
    • tree
    • music
    • Public green open space


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