A painting resembling trees by Annie Blazejack and Geddes Levenson

The Trees' Macbeth

A SEEK project by Annie Blazejack & Geddes Levenson with support from Raleigh Arts


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About the Project Project Collaborators

About the Project

The Trees' Macbeth is a computer-assisted adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth play. It is performed by a circle of trees near Sertoma Arts Center.

The script was composed in collaboration with a machine learning algorithm. Computer scientists Sergey Feldman and Alex Rubinsteyn ‘fed’ the Macbeth script and books about Everglades ecosystems into their learning machine. It then generated hundreds of paragraph-long blocks of text. Artists Annie Blazejack and Geddes Levenson finessed the computer’s output, cutting it up and rearranging it into a nine-character play with a loose plot.

In the play, Lady Macbeth leads a tree-killing army into the forest. The three Weird Sisters (witches) and three talking trees conspire to stop her. Under their influence, she experiences a strangely-worded epiphany and then decides she must become a tree in the forest herself.

A computer-generated script combines words and thoughts in ways that are unfamiliar and surprising. These trees don’t quite speak like people - their word choice is uncanny, only adjacent to our understanding.

What does it mean for a tree to be an actor rather than mere scenery? How do we give agency and voice to different kinds of sentience? How does listening to these new voices help us empathize with the non-human? 

You can listen to the play at the top of every hour and at regular 20-minute intervals between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. at Sertoma Arts Center.

Follow along with The Trees' Macbeth script


Project Collaborators

Text

Generated by Alex Rubinsteyn and Sergey Feldman

Script

Composed by Annie Blazejack and Geddes Levenson

Audio

Recorded and edited by Paul Voran and Elijah Web

Music

Written and performed by Xylem

Characters

Lady Macbeth: Lindsay Arber
Banquo: Sergey Feldman
Messenger: Rob Simmons
Witch 1: Lisa Veronica Wood
Witch 2: Tamar Libicki
Witch 3: Chris Martens
Tree 1: Tom Blazejack
Tree 2: Suzanne Levinson
Tree 3: Annie Blazejack


Contact

 

Kelly McChesney
Public Art Director
kelly.mcchesney@raleighnc.gov
919-996-5657

Department:
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Service Categories:
Raleigh Arts
Board, Commission or Committee:
Arts Commission
Related Services:
Arts Centers

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