The Bleeding Tree by Angus Cerini

RECOMMENDED FOR: Tertiary students


A PLAY TO: Read, read aloud, study, perform, as stimulus for making and creating

GENRE: Australian Gothic, abstract, drama

THEMES: Domestic violence, family, resilience

CURRICULUM/STUDY LINKS: Dramatic form and structure, contemporary Australian theatre

SYNOPSIS: Girls, I think your father’s dead. I knocked his knees out. I conked his head. I shot that house clown in the neck.” In a dirt-dry town in rural Australia, a shot shatters the still night. A mother and her two daughters have just welcomed home the man of the house – with a crack in the shins and a bullet in the neck. The only issue now is disposing of the body. Triggered into thrilling motion by an act of revenge, The Bleeding Tree is rude, rhythmical, brutal and irreverently funny. Imagine a murder ballad blown up for the stage, set against a deceptively deadly Aussie backdrop, with three fierce females fighting back.

STAGING: The original production used ‘a steeply raked and pleated stage that keeps [the performers] off-balance or pitched forward most of the time’.  SMH August 7, 2015

‘Angus Cerini challenges many conventional ideas of literary worth in The Bleeding Tree. He throws away more than stage directions, instead giving us a non-naturalistic re-telling of events. It’s reportage, but in the present tense. It looks, on the page, like a tripartite poem or song. It deliberately employs ugliness, revelling in crudity and the snot and blood and shit that make up the tormented women’s vocabulary’ (STC Essays – The Bleeding Tree)

Resources: The Bleeding Tree resources

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