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Adele Mary Reed

first performed on November 30, 2021
five diverse urban sites, both indoors and outdoors, Coventry, UK
performed five times in 2021


Carolyn Deby, Katye Coe, Jia-Yu Corti, Lisa Franklin, Jamie McCarthy, Camilla Nelson, Adele Mary Reed, Rosie Harris, Debra Salem, Mary Savva, Tom Simkins



We imagined the city as a place of invisible connections, as part of the biosphere interlinking all living beings. How could audiences be encouraged to see that the city is also a forest? Probe soil and reveal mycorrhizal fungal networks (entangled/feeding/communicating with plant roots). Probe bodies and discover that “we” are ecosystems spanning boundaries and transgressing categories (microbial cells, including fungi and yeast cells, outnumber human cells in the human body). “Becoming Fungi, Becoming Forest” revealed human entanglements in a shimmering “biome” of interacting beings and systems (humans, fungi, trees, microbes, and other life), on scales from massive to microscopic. The performances included a live installation of fungi growing inside a former office space, a whispering mycelial poet in a dark city park, an empty shop transformed by video projections of microscopic mycelium inside the body, with a clicking/muttering dancer as a weird portal between worlds, the underground networks of tree roots and mycorrhizal fungi intricately drawn around street trees, a glass-walled room where stories of personal tree connection were interspliced with the cruel language of urban planning, adjacent to a site where listed trees had been cut down without remorse.

Co-commissioned by Coventry UK City of Culture and Coventry Biennial, “Becoming Fungi, Becoming Forest” performances took place in early December 2021. The piece was site-specific: audiences walked slowly and silently (slowing into the time of trees) in four small groups of 25 people each, passing through a series of sites and “scenes.” Each audience group departed from a unique starting location and moved through the cycle of sites in a different sequence to the other groups. The starting locations/sites were secret, revealed to audience members the night before. Eventually, with a feeling verging on pilgrimage, all four groups converged on a disused, multi-story carpark (parkade) where they walked up and up through the levels, at first ankle-deep in dry leaves, drawn ever onwards by the sound of polyphonic singing—human voices performing the shifting, branching, fusing liveliness of mycelial entanglement. Near the top of the carpark, the audience was surrounded by the singing—the sound reached a peak and then gently deliquesced (melted away), leaving only the sounds of the city beyond.

Multidisciplinary across forest/tree knowledges, mycology (in the body and in the world), polyphonic singing, poetry, performance, wild yeast food/drink-making, with specialists and the public, this project was inspired by Merlin Sheldrake’s book Entangled Life.