Act 1 Scene 1
Olive Rossi and Gabe Halliday have been dating for five months. They picnic in the New Orleans City Park often, usually beneath a large Oak. Their story is told through the roots and leaves of the tree. Olive sits under the tree and waits for Gabe. It’s a beautiful afternoon in early January.
While tree delivers lines, Gabe approaches and sits on the picnic blanket. He starts an inaudible conversation. Olive opens the picnic basket and distributes food. She continues inaudible conversation.
TREE, to him/herself: Against my trunk these people dine
I’ve seen them laugh, I’ve seen them cry
But I, a tree, can’t ask them why
They find themselves not feeling fine.
They speak of jobs and alien lands
I cannot experience first hand
For I am stuck here on this land
So here I stay, for you I stand.
Looks at Olive on the ground below.
TREE: To the crowd, I am the Oak of Love and Friendship. Those that lie under my branches find happiness, tranquility, and most of all, love. These people, gestures to Gabe and Olive, have been picnicking here for months. Like many couples before them, I’ve witnessed them grow closer, and eventually fall in love. Things change through the seasons. My leaves will disappear, their love will grow, Olive feeds Gabe a grape and kisses his cheek, almost without fail.
Act 1 Scene 2
The Oak’s leaves are vibrant orange, red, and yellow (October). Gabe is on the ground below. He’s set up an elaborate picnic and appears nervous.
TREE: to the crowd, I’ve seen this so many times before. This, dear friends, is the part that I adore. Looks to Gabe.
Olive approaches the picnic blanket. Gabe gets down on one knee and pulls a small velvet box from his jacket pocket. When Olive sees him, she covers her mouth, tears up, and nods vigorously. They hug and kiss.
TREE: Better together, they will be. Better together, I agree. But what do I know? I’m just a tree. Regardless of our species, we both know what comes next.
Act 1 Scene 3
One year later, the Oak is wrapped in white Christmas lights. Gabe and Olive are below the tree’s vibrant leaves once again. Their guests are in white chairs out on the lawn.
TREE: I will not cry at this wedding.
Mainly because I physically can’t.
And I’ve noticed he keeps on forgetting
To tuck his shirt into his pants.
Gabe tucks shirt in quickly as if he heard the tree. The priest begins the ceremony inaudibly below.
TREE: to the crowd, Our friends are more than friends, this is where their future begins.
Act 1 Scene 4
Within a five month period (March), Olive and Gabe return to the tree. Olive looks as if she’s gained weight, and she struggles to set up the picnic area.
TREE: to the crowd, I’ve noticed a change in our one true pair.
Olive pulls out a small ultrasound photo and shows it to Gabe. They were having a son.
TREE: The woman holds a small human within her. The man-- he is ready to shelter it with his life, yet they have not met. How peculiar. How beautiful a concept.
Gabe feels Olive’s stomach.
A week later, Gabe returns and hangs a swing in the tree.
Act 1 Scene 5
Four months later, (July) the couple returns. Olive is dressed in all black. She sits on the swing and cries.
TREE: Something here has gone awry. The woman there, why does she cry?
Gabe approaches. Olive stands, and hugs her husband. The couple grieves together inaudibly. The next day, Gabe returns and cuts down the swing.
TREE: The small human has returned from whence it came.
To the Heavens in the sky.
I know it hurts, I can feel pain.
But please, dear human, do not cry.
Your child is forever happy
I know you’ll miss them here.
But think of where they are now
Before you shed a tear.
Act 1 Scene 6
Gabe and Olive have not returned to the Oak in a long while. As far as the Tree knows, they never will. A group of men approaches him. They have a chainsaw.
TREE: to the crowd, Friends, it appears that my final hour is at hand. I have lived for centuries. I have encountered many people, but none have wished malice upon me as these individuals do. Remember those loved.
TREE: Charles and Abigail, William and Margaret, Clyde and Mae, Jacob and Sara, and Olive and Gabe.
Remember those lost.
Men begin to cut down the tree. An acorn falls to the ground.
Tree actor from backstage.
Standing backstage will represent the Tree’s afterlife. A hungry squirrel finds the acorn.
TREE: Against my trunk these people once dined
I saw them laugh, I saw them cry
But I, a tree, could not ask why
They found themselves not feeling fine.
They spoke of jobs and alien lands
I could not experience first hand
For I was stuck there on that land
I do not stay, no longer I stand.