of Life – Origins and Evolution,
is the product of a two-year collaborative Creative Campus project,
culminating in an exciting evening of music, dance and theatre.
initiative explores the intricacy, challenge and revelation involved in
bridging sciences, humanities and performing arts.
features the contributions of several academic departments at KU, the
Lied Center and a number of resident and touring artists including the
commissioned involvement of two-time Grammy Award-winning David
Balakrishnan, founder of the Turtle Island Quartet.
work will explore a creation story involving the “Tree of
that raises and approaches key questions basic to understanding what
makes us essentially human: “Why are we here?”, “How can I be an
individual of both faith and science?” and “What is truth?”
“Tree of Life” is a biological concept connecting all life through
This project has an official web site which outlines all the various partners and the
events that occurred during a two year span and culminated in this stage production.
this production we rtied a few new technologies and some variants on
some previously used techniques. This was our first
virtual-reality based scenic elements created with Quest3D
software. This software provided the means of creating more
detailed and dynamic simulations than we had with previous
applications. Check out the Quest3D web site and look here for our review of thr software.
also experimented with using layers of sharkstooth scrim in front of
the mqin projection screen in order to give some 3-dimensional depth to
the projected images. This a variation on the multiple projection
screen we used in The Magic Flute and rendered a 3D effect without the use of special glasses such as were used in several of our earl;ier productions. By
moving between the layers of translucent scrim, the performers
moved within the front-projected scenic elements. This was
particularly effective in the second movement which consisted largely
of a real-time rendering of a turbulent ocean..
first movement "The Cultural Tree" consisted of a surrealistic lanscape
populated with artifacts from many cultures that depict teh Tree of
Life. Tapestries from Belgium, rugs from Persia, tiles from France,
wall paintings from pre-columbian Mexico were just a few of the images
that appeared as teh computer operator navigated through the landscape.
the center of the world was a 3-dimensional depiction of the tree from
Gustav Klimpt's famous fresco/collage "The Tree of Life"
second movement "The Scientific Tree" depicted a turbulent ocean,
the source of all life on the biological tree of life. As the
action progressed pictures of Charles Darwin and another huge
Klimpt-inspired tree rose from the water. This tree was adorned
with many pictures of the myriad life forms on Earth. Finally a
huge, moving, smoke-belching machine rose of out of the water to
represent the imbalances that are putting unatural and dangerous
pressures on our ecosphere.
Third movment,"The Intertwined Tree" used a single tree on the prarie,
blown by the wind. This tree was projected onto a white, 3
dimensianal scenic tree made of plywood, muslin and scrim.
After moving in on the tree until it filled the stage, two spherical
collages one of cultural icons the other of many life forms circle the
tree, growing and converging until they envelope it.
If you are veery ambitious and have a fairly powerful PC you can download and run the scenic simulations from this show by CLICKING HERE! (70 MB!) The instructions for operation, such as they are, are HERE.
Composer: David Balakrishnan: violinist,
Turtle Island String Quartet David Balakrishnan graduated from
UCLA with a B.A. in music composition
and violin and earned a masters degree in music composition at Antioch
Choreographer: Muriel Cohan: KU
faculty Muriel Cohan teaches modern dance
technique, composition, repertory, dance for children, and approaches
to world dance.
Director:John Staniunas: chair,
Department of Theatre and Film John
received his degrees from the University of Arizona: a B.A. in Dramatic
Theatre with a minor in Musical Theatre Performance and an M.F.A. in
both Acting and Directing.
Scenic Designer: Mark Reaney: KU faculty Mark
Reaney is a Professor in the Department of Theatre & Film at
University of Kansas. He received his M.F.A. in Scenic Design from the
University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught for three years at the
University of Tulsa before moving to Kansas in 1987.
Poet/Playwrite: Dennis Christilles: KU
Christilles is a 1975
graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He received his
B.F.A. in Directing from Southwest Texas State University in 1979 and
his M.A from Southwest Texas State University in 1981. In 1990 he
received his Ph.D. from The University of Kansas.Dennis
Christilles is a member of the theatre design faculty at the University
of Kansas. He has been a member of the faculty at KU since 1994
Designer: Delores Ringer: KU faculty Delores
Ringer has been a scenographer and faculty member at KU since 1984.
Patrick Suzeau: KU
born Suzeau's early performing career includes: Les Ballets Modernes du
Canada and Contemporary Dance Theatre while in Montreal and Grupo
Espacios while in Mexico.
Designer: Delbert Unruh: KU faculty
Unruh is a Professor of Theatre and Film. In addition to his stage
design work at the University of Kansas, he maintains an active
professional design practice in the Kansas City area and his work has
been seen on the stages of The Missouri Repertory Theatre, The American
Heartland Theatre, and Dinner Playhouse Inc.