The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness is a masterful allegorical tale for the 21st century, weaving together literature, music and visual art in the poignant story of one boy’s journey into mental illness. Audiences are offered a mesmerising visual and auditory tour de force about beauty and resilience, society and belief, that at its heart expresses hope for a greater understanding and embracing of difference.
The narrative unfolds around the metaphor of a tree growing within the boy, whose flower is ecstasy and whose fruit is sadness.
This luminous, multi-faceted work is inspired by the experiences of its award-winning creator, Matt Ottley, who has lived with bipolar disorder all his life and been hospitalised on numerous occasions in mental health facilities. Having personally experienced the prejudices and challenges that come from suffering a mental illness, Matt’s aim is to offer a sensory insight through words, music and images into the experiences of those who suffer from such debilitating illnesses, particularly psychosis.
At the heart of the work is a 50-minute orchestral composition by Matt Ottley (with guest composition by Alf Demasi) performed by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno and tenor Ben Reynolds, packaged within the book.