Shaun Tan’s ‘book without a story’ The Red Tree takes to the stage

This article is from 2013

The Red Tree

Featherweight theatre company are adapting the kids' book for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013

Figuring out how to dramatise a book described by its author as ‘without any particular narrative’ might seem impossible. But for Featherweight’s artistic director, George Wigzell, the challenge was irresistible. ‘Once my copy arrived, I instantly knew I wanted to make it into a piece of theatre,’ he says. ‘It’s an absolutely beautiful book, full of striking images that immediately got my imagination racing. But I also knew it would leave plenty of room for interpretation.’

Written by Oscar-winning Australian illustrator Shaun Tan, The Red Tree contains few words, instead leading its reader through a series of pictures of a solitary girl as she travels through fantastical and sometimes frightening landscapes. The book has been celebrated for its uplifting treatment of childhood depression.

Tan gave Featherweight his blessing, and asked the company to interpret the images as they saw fit. ‘Children’s theatre is often brushed off as being light,’ says Wigzell. ‘We wanted to produce a children’s show that had a bit of clout, one that wasn’t just entertainment.’

Zoo, 662 6892, 4–26 Aug, 1.45pm, £8 (£6). Previews 2 & 3 Aug, £5.

The Red Tree Trailer for Edinburgh Fringe 2013

The Red Tree

  • 3 stars

A bedroom full of leaves. A paper boat on stormy seas. A fantastical odyssey. Shaun Tan's award-winning picture book is illuminated with striking movement, puppetry and live animation. For children and adults; for anyone who's ever felt lost: a story of coming home.