an oak tree is a play by and starring Tim Crouch. It will begin performances at the Barrow Street Theatre on Oct. 27, toward an opening on Nov. 4.
The unique aspect of the two-man piece—which has played in England and other countries—is that Crouch has a different co-star every night.
The play takes place during a performance of a hypnotist (Crouch) who inadvertently calls up as a voluteer a man from his past. This man and the hypnotist were involved in a car accident in which the man's daughter was killed, with the hypnotist driving the other car.
Each night at an oak tree will feature a different actor playing the father—male or female. "The second actor walks on stage having neither seen nor read a word of the play they’re in….until they’re in it," according to production notes.
The show was partly inspired by an art show. According to production notes: "In the early seventies, in a gallery in London, the British artist Michael Craig-Martin made a piece of art called AN OAK TREE. This work was a glass of water on a shelf. Next to the shelf was a text in which the artist explained how he had transformed the properties of a glass of water into those of a fully grown oak tree. The glass had not become a symbol of an oak tree; it had become an oak tree. All that was required was for Michael Craig-Martin to say that’s what it was, and then that’s what it became. It was great!
"A couple of years ago, in a working man’s club in Rawtenstall (seen on video in my front room), the British stage hypnotist David Knight (“The World’s Fastest”) transformed the properties of a group of volunteers into those of monkeys and made them all attempt to have sex with their chairs. They were not symbols of monkeys; they really thought they were monkeys. All it required was for David Knight to say that’s what they were, and then that’s what they became. It was great!
"In a theatre anywhere this evening, actors are transforming the properties of themselves into any number of other things – Hamlets, say, or Gertrudes or Ophelias, say. The actors are not symbols of these characters, they really are them. All it requires is for the production to say that’s what they are, and then that’s what they become! It’s great!
"Tonight, on a stage in New York City, a man by a road side turns a tree into his dead daughter. It doesn’t become a symbol of his daughter. It really, really is her. If he says that’s what it is, then that’s what it becomes! His life is destroyed..."