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.
Generated by Alex Rubinsteyn and Sergey Feldman
Composed by Annie Blazejack and Geddes Levenson
Recorded and edited by Paul Voran and Elijah Web
Written and performed by Xylem
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