The Wishing Tree
Posted on 19 June 2013
According to Japanese mythology on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month two heavenly lovers are allowed to meet. To celebrate their wish of togetherness coming true, on that same day people write wishes down and hang them on a tree. Perhaps these too will be fulfilled. This holiday is known as Tanabata.
This is the premise of The Wishing Tree. A night of improvisational storytelling developed and directed by Rama Nicholas. It seems to be based on the long form improvisational format known as the French Braid. As in the Japanese holiday, audience members write down a genuine wish and tie it to a tree in the lobby. Wishes are then taken by performers from the tree and each wish is turned into a story told in several segments which weave around one another.
Last night the stories included two men’s journey to Mars, based on a wish for space travel; a woman’s search for a man she encountered at a gallery, based on a wish for friendship; and a pair of lesbians finally admitting their love for one another, for a wish about finding laughter in life.
All the wishes that were read out were ultimately fulfilled, but not always in ways characters expected or even hoped for. This gave the storytelling dramatic tension. One of the moving stories of the night was about an elderly couple whose long wished for child finally appears…as an adult. The mother feels betrayed that she did not get to participate in her daughter’s childhood.
Nicholas’s team of improvisers did an outstanding job. Stories were brisk, engaging, and alternately funny and moving. Characters frequently showed real depth of emotion and richness in portrayal. I was impressed by the “once upon a time” wisdom that spontaneously emerged from the scenarios. The Wishing Tree offered both a merry heart and a mature outlook on life.
Congratulations to Rama Nicholas, Patti Stiles, Merrilee McCoy, Adam McKenzie, Roland Lewis, Katherine Weaver, and Mim Carville for a job well done.
Peace and kindness,