Trees: Interview with Performance Artist Mur

“Trees” is a new piece of musical theater, heavily inlaid with performance art, that calls for attention to the current eco crisis. Filmed and produced by wild project, this video-on-demand will be available beginning Friday, December 18 and be available to view through December 24.

“Trees” was inspired by the ongoing destruction of the Earth and a bestselling book entitled The Hidden Life Of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben. The show audiences a glimpse into a dystopian future through the voices of the last remaining Trees on Earth thus addressing climate change, deforestation, and the selfishness of man.

Although it was originally scheduled to premiere as a full-length live musical at La MaMa on April 2, 2020, the show was postponed due to COVID19. It was subsequently trimmed down to 30 minutes and presented for the digital theater.

Performance artist Mur recently discussed this project via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for theater and how did you break
into the industry?

Mur: I saw a trailer for the national tour of “Cats” when I was 9 years old. I begged my parents to take me. I fell in love. Shortly after, I began voice lessons. My family and I found out I had a gift so I began studying opera and started working with professional opera companies when I was 10. I started piano lessons at 4 and wrote my first song when I was 13.

MM: How did you think up the concept for “Trees”?

Mur: I work with the Wild Bird Fund in NYC and wanted to do something to honor the birds… The project started out as BIRDS and turned into TREES very quickly. When I was 7 years old, I accidentally started a forest fire in our backyard. I still have trauma from that. Writing this show was a way to honor the trees and any animals that were killed in that fire. I was also inspired by “The Hidden Life Of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben which I was also reading last year.

MM:
How long did it take you to write this years’ piece and how was the staged performance supposed to look?

Mur: TREES took 4 or 5 months to compose. The staged performance would
have involved a cast of 15 performers. I wrote this piece in the basement of a Buddhist Temple in Chinatown (on Monroe St), my former Art Studio. I was very connected to the earth, underground, and asked the TREES to use me as their vessel. I asked the TREES what they would want us to know as Humans. Their songs were fantastic, frightening, sad.

MM: How difficult was it to move this to an online space and condense it down to 30 minutes?

Mur: It was easy. I’ve been working in the digital format for years doing small music video/performance art pieces. Having that background made it a seamless and exciting transition.

MM: What segments of this show are your personal favorites and why?

Mur: There’s a harmony between Aisha Kerensa and Jade Litaker in the song Oak that makes me sob every time.

MM: What do you most hope audiences take away from this show?

Mur: I hope audiences reflect on their relationship with the natural world and take away a deeper love for trees and all living things.

MM: What do you think we can all do to help the environment?

Mur: Stop eating meat.

MM: Semi-random question, but what kind of tree is your personal favorite?

Mur: Very good question! Lemon tree.

MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to mention?

Mur: TREES Original Cast Recording is also dropping on December 18th on all streaming platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc.).

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Tickets for “Trees” are $15 per household, available at thewildproject.org.

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