The Bleeding Tree

The Bleeding Tree stage red
Image credit: Rosie Hastie

LIMINAL Spaces’ collaboration with Tasmania’s newest theatre company, Archipelago Productions, is an adaptation of Angus Cerini’s compelling Australian play, The Bleeding Tree.

Reimagining the play, the design was developed in close collaboration with the production director, Ben Winspear and the cast Marta Dusseldorp, Jane Johnson and Kartanya Maynard.

Angus Cerini’s crafted play taps into the socially prevalent theme of ongoing violence against women, challenging notions of disempowerment, using black humour to present discomfort. To enable the clarity of Cerini’s words to be preserved, the design needed to be uncluttered and restrained, providing a backdrop that amplifies the emotion and enhances the stark context. The design embodies and supports the narrative arc of the work from constraint, oppression and volatility through to strength, stability and regaining control.

A shifting minimalist form is used to amplify scenes of oppression transitioning to empowerment. Embodying the conflicting worlds of the characters, the simple planar set is constrained, manipulated and expanded as the story moves from one of volatility to empowerment and stability.

The plywood and canvas set consisted of a base and ‘ceiling’ plane that could be contorted and tilted. The form shifts to become two open, balanced planes, visually framing and exposing the strength of the female protagonists.

The involvement of LIMINAL Spaces showcases how architects/interior designers can bring an additional layer to contemporary performance due to a spatially-tuned sensibility and our awareness of how body and space inform one another. This understanding can heighten meaning, enrich visual interpretations and intensify theatrical experiences.  In this way, bringing the expertise of architects/interior designers into the performance realm expands the potential of theatre.

When design is employed effectively, the visual representation of the narrative is conceived as a supportive and enhancing interface. The engagement of truly collaborative, interdisciplinary, creative teams increases artistic opportunity and expression for producers, performers, lighting designers, fabricators, musicians and composers leading to a powerful, live performance experience for audiences. 

The production opened theatres in Tasmania post the peak of Covid-19, which required all creatives and crew to take on the box-office risk, as audience capacity was reduced to 25% without any government guarantee or subsidy. The design was intensely frugal and the collaboration between the design team, Archipelago Productions and the set fabricator was heightened with resourcefulness and creativity. The three-week production had a (Covid) sell-out season. The passion and commitment of the team enabled theatre to be brought back to local and interstate audiences in challenging circumstances.


The Bleeding Tree artistic team:
Presenters: Archipelago Productions, Blue Cow Theatre and the Theatre Royal
Producer/Director: Ben Winspear
Producer/Actor: Marta Dusseldorp
Writer: Angus Cerini
Design: LIMINAL Spaces
Production Manager: Ellen Roe
Lighting Designer: Jason James
Composer: Glenn Richards
Set Fabricator: Paul Colegrave
Actor: Jane Johnson
Actor: Kartanya Maynard


The Bleeding Tree lift
Image credit: Rosie Hastie


The Bleeding Tree trio
Image credit: Rosie Hastie