Ancient Trees Reborn – Tree Planter workshop at the Courtyard Institute



Last Saturday Oct 15th was a morning well lived at the Courtyard Institute at the family workshop “Ancient Trees Reborn” . This was a new rendition of the ‘Tree Planter’ workshop exploring fun facts on trees , but also the world of ancient trees of Beijing.

This workshop was a collaboration of three parties, the Courtyard Institute , theatre director Liang Dandan and myself.

We began with introducing some lesser known information on trees :

Did you know that

*air is 400 million years of forest breath

*Trees can communicate with each other

a.above ground through pheromones and chemicals and

b. underground the roots of one tree are connected to the roots of another via fungal networks of mycelium enabling water carbon and nitrogen transfer between trees.

*removes air pollution

*leaves capture carbon and release oxygen

*leaves cool the surrounding air, for example New York City saves $27 million in energy savings

*trees can clean water and reduce storm water run off

*trees provide special ecosystems for insects , fungi, animals and other plants



Cross disciplinary approach

Liang Dandan interweaved some of these facts in physical exercises and movements.

One of the drama exercises Liang Dandan set the scene of the Pine Tree, which is under attack by caterpillars, it releases pheromones to call for a swarm of bees to come and counterattack the caterpillars. There was lots fun buzzing around the ‘pine tree people’.

We folded leaves from specially prepared rice paper , there were ginkgo leaves, pear leaves and a strange double leaf. These were added to the “Tree Planter”

Any profits the artist receives from “Tree Planter workshops” go towards tree planting programs in Beijing in Spring 2023 .


Later we made a “My Forest of Diversity” where participants created their own forest worlds and what might be living within . This forest scroll will continue to grow in every workshop and will be displayed at a later point.

a short  sample : Sleepy koalas  complaining about the noisy birdsong

A huge thank you to Matthew Hu and Sherry Dou of the Courtyard Institute who hosted the workshop at the beautiful venue, to Liang DanDan for the new interdisciplinary experiential learning through physical movements.



Tree Planter workshops will continue throughout next year . I will also post information on the different tree planting events in Spring 2023.