Fallen Fruit’s Public Fruit Theater

I’ve been working with the guys of Fallen Fruit at LACMA, getting ready for this Sunday’s big event, Let Them EATLACMA. Among the 50 different artist-created performances and events will be Fallen Fruit’s Public Fruit Theater. (Download the full program, which includes a tomato fight, a watermelon eating contest, and psychedelic aerobics, among other things. ) Taking a break from all the preparation, I asked Fallen Fruit about the project.

The Public Fruit Theater under construction, at the northeast corner of the LACMA campus.

During our proofreading sessions for the brochure I came across a term I wasn’t familiar with: “urbanite.” The brochure describes the Public Fruit Theater as being constructed by urbanite—what exactly is urbanite?
Urbanite is a recycled “green” building material. It’s basically reclaimed city sidewalks and roads, and absolutely perfect as structural material for the Public Fruit Theater. We decided to use urbanite because it’s another way to talk about public space and the role of not just the natural world, but also sustainable permaculture. It highlights new possibilities for repurposing materials that would otherwise be thrown away. We’re excited to be working with La Loma Development Company on the design and construction of the theater—they pride themselves on creating eco-friendly landscapes, so it’s a perfect match!

So the theater is constructed of public material—is that what makes it a Public Fruit Theater?
Yes, and… the land is public (i.e. municipal); admission is free to the public; the fruit that the tree bears is for the public… We chose an orange tree because the entire neighborhood was once a citrus grove. It’s a few steps to the intersection of Fairfax and Orange Street. The tree itself is almost on the invisible line of where Orange Grove Avenue would have been.

This single fruit tree is in the center of the theater. Would you call this a solo performance?
It’s not just about the lone tree. This piece is a garden and an installation, but also addresses ideas about theater and performance. Everyone’s performing. When you’re sitting there, you’re looking at others who are looking either at the tree or back at you. The circular space keeps your attention coming back to the social. We want bring attention to the role and the presence (or more often, the absence) of fruit trees in our lives, but also to who else is paying attention.

It’s similar to how we see our Public Fruit Jams. The jams are lovely, charming, even delicious…

Very delicious.
Yes! But for us, the real point of the events are the connections we make with strangers and the conversations about fruit, neighborhoods, and family. The jams are a playful device.

When would you say was the best time to see the “performance”?
Late afternoon, toward dusk. The city slows down and people come home. The light is nice and contemplative. It illuminates the city in such a way that everything seems to appear a little more clearly. Your mind slows down, free to wander, and you think about what it means to live here and how we chose to live our lives. As the tree grows, so does the city around us, and so do we.

Chloë Flores, Volunteer

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