Treeson an Eco-Musical (English Version)
Sometimes, with closer inspection and reflection, something that was exclusively a challenge just a moment ago turns out to be a stroke of luck. The current Corona pandemic, which has had the world in its grip for a year now, also brings new insights and special inspiration to light through the difficulties it causes.
That was the case for Victoria Campbell. Originally from Seattle but recently relocated to Switzerland for work, she set out to write her first musical last year. “Treeson an Eco-Musical” is about the interaction of humankind and the environment. It describes a love story between the humankind and the earth as well as between Ash (Daniele Alan Carter), the heir to a logging company, and Terra (Victoria Campbell), whose special significance only becomes clear as the play progresses.
The idea to write an environmentally based musical came very suddenly last spring, when Campbell missed her home and, due to the prevailing lockdown – like so many – had no opportunity to give in to homesickness. Almost simultaneously, reports began to pile up that nature was taking the opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief and begin to recover. While some have not had the opportunity to deepen their ecological footprints, the Earth is seizing this chance to compensate for human impact. The author describes that she wanted to use this as an opportunity to make many people aware of the issue. Now that time was available to reflect and create art, she began to focus on it in the months that followed.
The aim was to tell a story about a person reevaluating her priorities in life. In doing so, she draws many parallels to herself and her individual goals. The person quickly realizes that an individual’s focus is often distracted by society. How do I come across to the outside world? How can the needs of a society be satisfied? And, of course, how to satisfy one’s own needs. This conflict is faced by the main male character, Ash, whose family owns a successful logging company that drives deforestation. He meets Terra, who worries about what her environment will be like if humankind continues to interfere with nature and how much she will miss the sight of rustling forests in front of gushing waterfalls.
Important to the story are the elements of wind (Sarsi Grace), water (Auguste Jankauskaite) and fire (Sinead Davies), who symbolize the environment alongside Terra, creatively representing the conscience of the people and thus not only making their point, but acting as narrators and interacting with both the other characters and the audience. The idea was to make the interaction between people and the environment visible and tangible.
Throughout the spring of 2020, the process of creating “Treeson” continued, with a first rough draft available by the end of May. At this point, Joseph Purdue from Hampshire, England, was brought on board to handle the orchestration, while by then lyrics and basic melodies had already been conceived. Alongside with Purdue’s work, which was completed after about six weeks, Victoria Campbell kept revising her design and, with very precise ideas in mind, began looking for artists who would support her in her project and breathe life into her characters. In the absence of personal contacts, the entire creative process took place online, from choosing their singers to recording the album. Finding creatives was like an adventure, with a lot of networking coming to the rescue and almost a snowball effect in the end, with artists recommending each other. In this way, a motley cast emerged with members from eight different countries and, after all, three continents of the world.
After about nine months of hard work, the finished concept album was ready to be uploaded and released in early January. From classical ballads to pop songs and large ensemble numbers, everything that makes the musical heart beat faster is represented. The catchy songs stay in the ear for a long time.
Naturally, we are curious to see what will happen next with “Treeson”. Now that the first hurdle has been overcome, Victoria Campbell is full of new drive and ideas. She is open to how her musical will reach people, the most important thing is to get the message across. As it is currently difficult to bring a musical to the stage, she is open to new ways of doing this as well, whether it‘s an online musical or a film adaptation. Of course, she also dreams of seeing her environmentally focused play on a big stage on Broadway or the West End. But until that happens, she’s writing more songs and working through the dialogues again with a dramaturge.
In terms of content, she likes the last of the 19-song album best. “Birth to earth” is the title of this one and shows once again that everything will be alright in the end. It represents the finale of her protagonist’s change of heart, as he struggles with his conflicts and finally makes a decision. The scene reflects how much people love nature and how each individual can do their part to protect it. It is important to note that there are two sides to every coin. The obvious antagonist Don (Colin Wardale), father of Ash and Holly (Sarah Waddington), is not evil in principle, but merely striving to provide the best for his family. Ash does not take on his family’s legacy, but leaves that to his energetic sister, who strives to bring change from within.
The album is available on all major streaming providers and is definitely worth checking out.The aim of inspiring people and getting them to address the issue of environmental protection has succeeded, and perhaps you too will feel like being whisked away to the North American landscape of the Pacific Northwest and hearing how Victoria Campbell has made a virtue out of the proverbial adversity of the pandemic.
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