The Tree War
By Chris Burnham
Based on a True Story
Scene opens with two people sitting at a table. Justin is staring out the window, presumably at some trees. Michael is eating breakfast, and is concentrating deeply. Justin breaks the silence, and says, mostly to himself:
Justin: Look at that tree, just the way it's shaped. Its so....evil.
Michael: Evil? Are you serious? Trees are not evil. What has a tree ever done to you?
Justin: Lots of things. When I was little, I was climbing a tree, and I fell and broke my arm. I was in a cast for weeks, in the middle of the summer! That tree ruined my childhood.
Michael: That was not the tree's fault. The tree doesn't choose who falls and who climbs. I think...I think the wind knocked you out. You should be going after the wind here, leave the tree alone.
Justin: I couldn't let that tree get away with what it had done. You know what my dad did to that tree, after I got my cast off? He cut it down.
Michael: Cut it down? That tree was innocent! You can't just cut down trees whenever you feel like it.
Justin: Why not? We need to cut down trees. Lots of things depend on wood.
Michael: Not really, I think we could get by fine without wood.
Justin: We don't need wood? What about all of our buildings, and houses?
Michael: Humanity has progressed beyond wood. We no longer need it to build. We have cement and iron and bricks. Come on, don't tell me you missed such an important lesson? Remember the 'Three Little Pigs'? The wood house was blown completely over, and the pig was eaten. If he had built a brick house, like his brother, that wouldn't have happened.
Justin: Well, what about other things we need...like fire? What are we going to burn besides wood?
Michael: We have other kinds of fuel; gas, coal, steam, solar. Why burn wood?
Justin: What if you're camping and want to cook s'mores?
Michael: I don't like marshmallows.
Justin: Yeah....me neither.
Michael: Justin, I love trees. I don't see how anyone could hate them so much. But to have your dad cut down the tree you fell from? What did you do with it?
Justin: Well, we threw it away.
Michael: (sarcastically) You didn't build a house out of it? You didn't burn it? Then you wasted it! You murdered a defenseless tree, for no reason, and didn't even try to use it for anything you said that trees are good for. That is very, very, shameful.
Justin: It was a dangerous tree. I'm in constant fear for my life, because people don't just fall out of trees. Trees fall on people! Imagine how many children have been crushed by trees! Are you saying that you like to see children getting squished?
Michael: No, of course not. But you can't blame the trees for these accidents. Just like you can't blame cars when people crash them.
Justin: So I just blame the person driving the tree? Brilliant, Michael, brilliant. Maybe I better get some tree insurance or wear my seatbelt.
Michael: Don't be ridiculous. Lots of things could cause a tree to fall over. It could be cut down by a murderer, it could just be old, the wind could blow it over, it could be weighted down by an abundance of squirrels...
Justin: An abundance of squirrels?
Michael: Yeah, squirrels live in little squirrelly families. And some squirrel families are bigger than others. Maybe they all got together for a party in one tree, and the weight was too much and -----
Justin: Michael, squirrels do not have parties.
Michael: Well, if they did, it wouldn't be the tree's fault. And how do you propose to punish a tree that has already fallen down? You can't cut it down again. And you certainly don't care about actually using the trees. You just want your petty revenge, and you don't care how many trees get left to die alone along the forest floor. You are just like the pioneers who shot too many buffalo along the Oregon Trail. We've reached a point where we don't need wood, and you still clamor for their deaths. You call them evil, but they are not. Trees are selfless benevolent beings. They give us oxygen, and shade, and fruit, and when you get enough of them together, they form such beautiful forests.
Justin: But they also drop lots and lots of leaves in the fall. The leaves get everywhere, and then your dad says you have to rake them up, and you'd rather be inside watching TV, and as you're out their raking them, even more leaves fall! And then you're left with a hideous mess on the ground, and hulking, barren, ugly trees.
Michael: Trees are not ugly. I like the way they look all of the time. And I like raking leaves. The best part is when you make a huge pile and then jump into it!
Justin: You're completely missing the point. There are good reasons to cut down trees, well, besides revenge.
Michael: No there aren't. Cutting down trees is completely unnatural.
Justin: Would you say animals are natural?
Michael: Well, yes, of course. Animals are nature!
Justin: Beavers cut down trees. They use the trees to make dams. Without those dams, entire ecosystems would cease to exist. Do you want to destroy the beaver?
Michael: Well....when beavers utilize trees, they have a very good reason. Their survival and very way of life depends on it. Humans also build dams, but we certainly don't build them out of wood.
Justin: What about paper?
Michael: Paper? You can't build a dam out of paper.
Justin: I mean stuff made out of paper. For books, homework, newspapers, and posters, and that comes from trees.
Michael: Well, we've unfortunately created a lot of paper. We don't need to make any more. We can just use recycled paper.
Justin: Do you want to use recycled toilet paper?
Justin: And we can't recycle paper forever. We're going to run out. You can't recycle toilet paper.
Michael: Well, we can cut down a few trees here, as we need them. But you have to agree that we cut down more than we should.
Justin: Ok. So which trees do we cut down? The healthy ones, the sick ones?
Michael: Well we could cut down the trees that would serve our needs the greatest.
Justin: So you're for cutting down certain kinds of trees? Is this some kind of ethnic cleansing? Do you want to clear the forests to leave room for the master tree?
Michael: Did you just compare me to Hitler?
Michael: That's it, I'm out of here....Tree hater!
Michael gets up leaves, and if possible slams a door.
The next portion of the play takes the form of a series of political ads. The characters don suit coats, and if possible, appropriate music can be played. Good patriotic music when they speak positively, and dark foreboding music when they are smearing their rival. 'Candidates' take turns giving their 'ads'.
Justin: Headline: Tree kills 11 in church. Headline: Falling tree kills two on interstate. Headline: Man dies after tree crushes truck. Headline: Tree kills six-year-old girl. Trees have long been a menace to our society. Drinking our water, blocking our sunlight, and yet, despite all this, Michael continues to side with these monsters. If Michael had his way, we wouldn't being cutting down trees at all! We'd be living in dirt huts, surrounded by dark twisted forests! I don't need to remind you what happens when too many trees get together..they burn! Remember in Bambi? All of those cute little animals burned, because we have too many trees. It wouldn't have happened if those animals lived in a more urban, treeless, environment. If we don't keep the advances of the trees under control, they'll end up flanking us in a fiery inferno. Our cure forest animals already live in danger, why should we put ourselves in peril? Side with me, for safety and warmth!
Michael: Forests fires? What starts them? Justin would have you believe that trees catch fire on their own. On the 'Disney DVD special edition' of Bambi, there is a deleted scene where the forest fire is caused by a cigarette from a passing motorist. Justin continues to ignore the basic facts, and misleading you with his lies. Trees are not the ones to blame here. Accidents happen because of outside forces, these trees have no choice here. I'm here to represent those who cannot represent themselves, I speak for the trees. So let's pretend we give Justin his way. Lets get rid of all of the trees. Suddenly, you feel a gagging in your throat...you can't breath! Why? There is no air! These trees selflessly give off oxygen, ensuring our very survival. Yet, we take such a privilege for granted! Do you want our planet to become something like Mars? No one lives on Mars...you remember that.
Justin: It's the most wonderful time of year. Christmas. Sitting with the family, celebrating the birth of Christ, beautiful decorations on the.....what's this? No tree. Right, Michael got his way. We have no Christmas tree. Who does that remind you of? A group that hates Christmas...could that be the terrorists? Now, I'm not accusing Michael of being a terrorist, and I'm not saying that he hates freedom and good American values, I'm simply saying he hates Christmas. I've already shown that trees like to crush children. And Michael may be correct that trees don't fall on their own. Is it possible, that in an act of terrorism, someone maybe cuts them down? Do you feel safe? Will your children be safe? Will you ever know a happy Christmas again? Ask yourself these questions.
At this point, Michael enters stage in the middle of the 'ad'.
Michael: Terrorism? Christmas hater? What are you talking about? I love Christmas!
Justin: Where was your Christmas tree?
Michael: What do you mean? You put one up.
Justin: That was my Christmas tree! You have no business using it! Stay out of my house!
Michael: Your house? We're roommates!
Justin: Fine I'll leave!
Justin storms off. A blackout. Justin sits in the center of stage, on a bench or something. A tree stands near him.
Justin: Stupid Michael, and his stupid trees.
Justin looks out, towards the audience and recognizes someone coming towards him.
Justin: Ack....its that girl that won't leave me alone. If only there was somewhere I could hide...
Justin frantically searches the stage, and finally hides behind the tree. After a few moments he peeks his head out, then releases a sigh of relief. He comes out of hiding.
Justin: (To tree) Tree! You saved me!
Blackout: back to the house.
Justin approaches with a drawing. A big tree with Justin and Michael standing in front of it holding hands. Extra points if its down in crayon. "Let's be Friends" it says.
Justin: I want you to have this.
Michael: Oh...wow. I'm sorry. Thanks Justin
Justin: No, I'm sorry. It turns out trees are pretty cool.
Michael: Yeah...and I really like things made of wood. Like carved wooden figurines. They are so pretty.
Justin: I'm sorry for calling you a terrorist.
Michael: And I'm sorry for splashing red paint all over your room, and spray painting "Lumber is Murder".
They both start walking exiting.
Justin: You did all that while I was gone?
Michael: You'd be surprised how fast the paint spreads.
Justin: I'm just glad you got that out of your system, you wouldn't believe what I was planning to do to you.
Justin: Well, I'd just looked up the number to Guantanamo Bay when....
Blackout. The end.