Bringing Europe Home

The Man Who Planted Trees

He’s got no strings, and he’s quite a catch…

The man who planted trees

The man who planted trees (Photo credit: James_C)

What It Is

He’s Elzéard Bouffier, the man who planted trees.  Written by Jean Giono, The Man Who Planted Trees is the fictional story of a solitary shepherd (our Elzéard) who made it his life’s quest to transform a barren area of Provence into a place lush with life.  And he did it–one seedling at a time.  The original tale was written in French and has been translated into English and also adapted as an animated short film in 1987.  This French story has gained new life, however, in Scotland, with Edinburgh’s Puppet State Theatre.

Bring It Home

Puppet State Theatre has been touring the world for over five years with their adaptation of “The Man Who Planted Trees,” and the world won’t let them stop!  They are returning to North America April-June 2012, with shows in Montreal, Des Moines, Austin, and parts of California.  They will also be performing at two International Children’s Festivals—in Calgary and in Ottawa.  My family saw this delightful show during one of its many North American tours, and every one of us–pre teens, college students and adults–loved it.  Elzéard’s story is told with tenderness and charm, interspersed with a good deal of humor that is provided by  frisky “Dog.”

The man who planted trees

The man who planted trees (Photo credit: James_C)

This puppet show is everything that good theatre should be:  entertaining, inspiring, and thoroughly captivating.  With an ingeniously simple set, beautiful puppets, strong narration, music, and even wafting fragrances, two puppeteers completely enchant their audience.  See it, and you will leave with a smile on your face and a tear in your eye.

Catch Elzéard in the act!  Click here for the touring schedule:


  1. Very nice post! I think there’s a university in Connecticut that offers an undergrad degree in puppetry. I remember reading that their classes are always full.

    Also , theres a very well done animated version of The Man Who Planted Trees. It won the Academy Award for best animated short film in 1988.

    • That’s pretty interesting, about the puppetry degree, Peter! I had heard about that animated version of “Man” winning the Academy Award, but I have not seen it. Have you?

      • I saw it way back in 1988 as part of an animated short film festival. It’s the only film of the festival that I still remember. I could be wrong, but I believe it is available on Utube.

        • What a great experience that must have been for you! And what a great film that must have been, to still stick in your mind.
          I’ll need to check it out!

    • Oh! And I’m glad you liked the post. Thanks!

  2. Thanks. You are great !!!

    • Why, thank you, Anna. And, you are truly inspiring. 🙂

  3. TBM

    This sounds pretty interesting…I wasn’t expecting it to be a puppet show.

  4. I have not seen this particular show, but I am very familiar with live puppet shows. They are so simple, so entertaining.

    • I have seen some shows that have fabulous puppets and sets, but were really boring! But I’ve seen others–like this one–that stand on really terrific performances and a well told tale.

      • This is an art form that will disappear, unfortunately.

        • Really? You think that puppetry will disappear?

          • Yes, I think so, it’s only matter of a few years. I see what is happening in my home land Italy. Puppetry is still going and not strong either in Sicily and Naples. In the of Italy it almost extinct.

            • Interesting…I just found a puppetry post yesterday from a blogger in Lebanon; the organizer of the puppet theater there remarked that every culture has its own form of puppetry. That helped me to view puppetry as an ancient and universal art form, and I do hope it endures! I think that will depend on the quality of the shows and the abiltiy of the puppet companies to tell universal stories in appealing ways.

              • I hope so too Robin. I am very much an advocate of keeping traditions alive. Let’s hope we do not lose puppetry.

                • In this high-tech world, we need something that is simple enough to engage our imaginations, I think. When we lived in Europe, my family visited Pinocchio Park in Colodi, Italy. Far from being the thrill-ride type of amusement park that we were used to, it was filled with climb-on sculptures, etc., and my children loved it. I found it charming, and I was so pleased to spend a low-key and thoroughly delightful day with my family. I think that puppetry is like that!

                  • I totally agree with you Robin. I am so happy you visited Pinocchio Park in Collodi. What a fun place it is.

                    • I’m so happy we visited it, too. It was a breath of fresh air, so to speak!

                    • Generally when tourists visit Italy they go to Tuscany, 5 Terre, may be Rome or Venice and they go home. You went to Collodi. Very good.

                    • Thank you, Valentina! (We hit some of those hot spots, too, but still–thank you. :-))

                    • I love to hear that people go to unbeaten paths when they go to my country. There is so much to see.

                    • There sure is! I’d love to go back.:-)

  5. GmaB

    Wowie!! I was lucky enough to enjoy this amazing lovely, soo funny, soo smart puppet show at the NEW VIC Theatre, Broadway & 42nd St, NYC, a few years ago. Yes siree, if you are close to any of the shows, don’t miss it–and bring all your friends!!

    • Thank you, GmaB! I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s seen the show…

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