Harli Foster is a final year student of Performance for Stage and Screen at Sheffield Hallam University. Expert at bullshitting and pretending she has any idea what she’s talking about. Is often like a duck that seems all peaceful on top but underneath is kicking like hell. That’s a lie, the top is kicking like hell too. Loves food. All food. Except banana, eww. Currently survives on coffee, monster and about 4 hours sleep. Has really chubby cheeks. Special talent pulling weird faces due to chubby cheeks.
DIARY #1 | S.T.A.G.
Since October, a collection of us – final year Performance for Stage and Screen students – have been looking into the controversy surrounding the tree felling in Sheffield. TREEFXXXERS is the brainchild of Doppelgangster, a theatre company heavily influenced by political and environmental controversies. For just over a month now we have been experimenting with any forms of information we can find, from interviews, online research, movement experimentation, and local interactions. We’re putting together a performance with an aim being to shed some light on this local up-to-date topic. As part of this experimentation we have been in contact with some of the most influential people concerned with this environmental conflict.
A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Rust, the chairman of the Sheffield Trees Action Group (STAG). STAG is a collaboration of a number of local tree action groups coming together; raising awareness about the felling of Sheffield’s street trees. Each group has an equal say, responding however they see fit and reasonable.
The group joins together various activist forces of Sheffield in response to the tree felling dispute, whereby nearly HALF of Sheffield’s trees are due to be culled! STAG consists of eleven groups, who each stem from their own local causes including Save the Norfolk Park Trees, Save the Trees of Firth Park, Save the Trees of Millhouses please (STOMP).
Chris doesn’t run the groups, but through STAG gives them the opportunity to come together, each with their own rights, opinions and reason for standing. These individuals are doing everything they can to protect these trees – trees that don’t need to be culled!
Chris says he has amazed by the way people have come out to the streets in order to protest the cutting down of the trees. Around each of the trees due to be felled a safety zone is created by authorities. Protestors have been breaching these areas in order to protest dressing up or protecting their faces. Protestors have dressed as gnomes, worn bunny masks, played music, recited poetry, jumped over fences, clung to nearby garden walls, and stood barefoot in the freezing rain all to breach these areas, in order to stop tree felling of Sheffield’s beloved trees. Local residents are going as far as breaking the law to protect their trees. As quoted in The Star Mr Rust stated ‘the protesters believe Sheffield City Council have made stupid, fundamental mistakes and they believe there is a point where the law becomes unjust”.
Example of one of the protests…
According to Chris, the way the group is run means that no-one can make a decision on the group’s behalf; to do so would result in them being pushed out. Chris believes that the way that STAG operates as a network without a single leader gives them a form of power that the local Labour council do not understand. Their lack of understanding has put them at a disadvantage in thinking they are able to speak to one leader and have the situation resolved. With so many people, voices, and causes involved this is much bigger than just one person.
Chris Rust gave us an insight into the nature of the debate, the key events that took place, the opinions of Sheffield people and how much these trees mean to them. This gives us all the more importance to deliver a performance that represents the people of Sheffield and their beliefs.
TREEFXXXERS is our way of fighting against irrevocable damage Amey is doing on our once green city.
– Harli Foster, Sheffield.
Example of one of the protests…