Talking trees explore luminaries' Illinois roots

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A new public art display is celebrating the state's 200th birthday in an unusual way.

A new public art display is celebrating the state's 200th birthday in an unusual way.

"Rooted in Greatness" illuminates the stories of the state's luminaries with images and stories told in the trees. The dramatic project is spearheaded by a showman, Broad in Chicago's president Lou Raizin.

"The trees as metaphors that look at this long-lasting impact of these people have had on our state," Raizin said.

Famous people who were born in or made an impact on Illinois are honored. Also behind the project are the cultural organization Luma 8 and Chicago's TimeLine Theatre, which produced the audio and visual content. TimeLine Theatre's artistic director P.J. Powers explained the production of the display.

"We have four actors who provide the voiceover for it," he said. "Playwright Lydia Diamond created a script where you learn about some of the notable figures from the state of Illinois and then they are all brought to life."

The presentation cycles through every 20 minutes.

Michael Harris was visiting Chicago from Toronto and happened upon the presentation.

"I thought it was intriguing because there's kind of a community feel to it," he said of the presentation's format. "It's kind of magical and it makes it come alive."

"Rooted in Greatness" is slated to stay for the next six months in celebration of Illinois' Bicentennial. Even as the weather changes and leaves begin to fall off other trees, organizers told ABC7 Eyewitness News that the trees that are part of the exhibit will always have leaves.
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