Puppet show about one man planting a forest

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There’s a puppet show coming to Malaysia that you would do well to take your kids for. Called The Man Who Planted Trees, the multi-sensory theatrical adaptation of Jean Giono’s environmental classic is about one man (and his dog) making a difference by planting a forest, acorn by acorn.

It will be performed by Puppet State Theatre Company. Founder Richard Medrington says the story covers a period of 40 years when a quiet shepherd single-handedly reforests a barren wilderness.

“It sounds rather heavy, particularly as the period in question spans the two world wars. However, the subject is treated in a gently humorous way. The key to this is the shepherd’s dog, who acts as our guide and provides moments of genuine hilarity.

“Jean Giono, who wrote the story in the 1950s, said that he had written it to make his readers ‘love trees and love planting trees’. Beyond that, we feel it carries a powerful message about the ability of every person to contribute to the greater good of humanity by small, sometimes anonymous acts of kindness,” explains Medrington via email.

The show, suitable for adults and children over six years, has toured many times in the US (24 states so far) and Canada. It has been to Australia and New Zealand on several occasions, with return bookings at the Sydney Opera House. It has also toured the UK and Ireland, and performed in Germany and Holland.

“In the past 12 years we have performed the show nearly1,700 times and it has been has been well received wherever we have been, which is why we often get invited back! This will be our second visit to Malaysia,” says Medrington.

He believes this production can be taken on many levels and shared and remembered by whole families.

The multi-sensory part? It includes the smells of lavender and mint, wind, mist, rain, lovely music, and birds flying above the heads of the audience. Sounds delightful! It is also said to be funny, sad and inspiring.

The Scotsman reviewer, who gave the show five stars, said:

For all the laughs to be had along the way, the ending is genuinely touching. In the performance I saw, I noticed the middle-aged man in the seat next to me take out a hankie and wipe a tear from his eye.”

The Guardian reviewer added: “Laughs, heartbreak, war, regeneration, scented breezes, sparkling wit, the best dog puppet ever. Perfect for children and grown-ups. Terrific.”

Medrington performed his one-man puppet shows for 20 years before joining forces with puppeteer Rick Conte and puppeteer/maker Ailie Cohen in 2006.

The Man Who Planted Trees will be in Malaysia from Sept 27-Oct 13, 2018, covering Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Petaling Jaya.

For more information, go to Gardner & Wife Theatre (https://www.gardnerandwife.com/).