Charlotte Martin Theatre

Age Recommendation
For Ages 8+


This production has past.

“eye-catching stagecraft”

Nancy worssam (The SEattle Times)

More Info

Age Recommendation:

Ages 8 and up
The Newbery-award winning book makes a powerful performance about perseverance and potential. Homelessness, ethical questions, hardships and an emotionally charged story are most suitable for older elementary aged children.

Curriculum Connections:

Honesty, Perseverance, Apprenticeship, Pottery, Loyalty, Respect, Poverty, Literature, Family

Cast and Design Team

Tree Ear is played by Jason Ko, with Crane Man played by Ho-Kwan Tse. Joining the ensemble cast is Geoffrey Barnes, Stephanie Kim, Scott Koh, Alexis Scott, Naho Shioya, Richard Sloniker and Joseph Steven Yang.

Stephanie Kim, Eric Riedmann, Richard Sloniker, Timothy Wang and Joseph Yang act as understudies. The production features Korean dance choreography by Sinae Cheh, Set Design by Carey Wong, Costume Design by Nanette Acosta, Lighting Design by Michelle Habeck, Sound Design by Chris R. Walker, and Puppet Design by Annett Mateo.


Imagine being homeless on the streets of 12th-century Korea. That’s where a young orphan
boy, Tree Ear, lives under a bridge with the wise old crippled Crane Man, his guardian and
only friend. Their only wealth is their bond of friendship and respect. Together, the two are
barely eking out a living, dreaming of a better life.

Their village of Ch’ulp’o is known for its fine celadon pottery, and Tree Ear is intensely
curious about the craft. He secretly observes the legendary master potter Min at work,
longing for the chance to make a pot of his own. When he accidentally breaks a piece of the
master potter’s work, a chain of events begins that will transform the boy’s life.

The ill-tempered Min grudgingly allows Tree Ear to do grueling manual labor in repayment
for the broken pottery. He shows no warmth or interest in Tree Ear, and he certainly never
lets the boy experiment with clay. Loyal and determined, the boy continues to work
tirelessly even after his debt has been repaid. Though Min remains cold, Min’s wife takes a
liking to Tree Ear. She offers him encouragement and feeds him. Tree Ear selflessly brings
half of the food home to Crane Man. His old friend strengthens the boy’s spirit and nurses
his wounds.

When an Emissary from the Emperor arrives to award a commission for the finest new
pottery, Tree Ear discovers another local artist is using an innovative inlay technique. He
fears this new style will catch the eye of the Emissary and win the desirable contract. Tree
Ear is right. But the Emissary, recognizing Min’s superior artistry, asks the master potter to
create a piece using the new technique and deliver it to the Emperor in the far-off city of
Songdo. Min is grateful for the offer, but must turn it down, as he is too old to make the
journey. Tree Ear volunteers to make the trip for Min, and the biggest adventure of his life

Taking the weeks-long walk to Songdo alone takes tremendous bravery, especially for a
young boy who has never been outside his small village. When he stops along the way to
see a special place Crane Man had asked him to visit, he is set upon by thieves. They are
angry that he has no money for them, so they punish Tree Ear by dropping Min’s pots from
the top of the cliff. Tree Ear scrambles to the ground below and finds the pots shattered
into little pieces – except for one shard as big as his palm. Instead of giving in to despair, he
courageously presses on with the hope that this single shard will convince the Emperor to
support Min’s work. His perseverance is rewarded, and Min is granted a commission that
will allow him to live comfortably.

Returning to his village with the good news, Tree Ear is devastated to hear of an accident
that took Crane Man’s life. He is now completely alone. However, Min has been transformed
by Tree Ear’s heroic actions. He has opened up a portion of his heart and grown to respect
Tree Ear. He invites Tree Ear to be his apprentice and a part of his family.