This project depends on unceded land violently appropriated from the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ' nation.
Decades of neglect have led to environmental degradation hidden beneath verdant leaves.
What care can we perform alongside nature's play?
when play needs you
if not, why?
to Manifest is to demonstrate,
to act and appear in control.
every shifting perspective
is engrained in our surroundings.
humans can’t think THAT good
so turn to environments
who manifest on scales beyond
time to make utopian dreams
joyish, entropical, teachful, conflictuous!
Come join Nature’s Play.
Walk up the hill! Click for directions.
April 14, 15, 21 & 22 at 7 PM. In the event of heavy April showers, performances will be canceled.
Please dress for the weather, and consider bringing a camping chair or picnic blanket to your comfort!
Drop-off at Pleasant Grove Road
Parking available at A-Lot
TCAT Bus Routes:
37 & 81 to Pleasant Grove @ Jessup
30, 81 & 90 to Jessup @ Pleasant Grove
81 @ A-Lot
"Nature's Play" is supported by the Cornell Rural Humanities Initiative from an award by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Department of Performing and Media Arts, and the Cornell Botanic Gardens.
“Nature’s Play: An Invasive Performance” is a collaged representation of a year’s stewardship in Palmer Woods, Ithaca NY.
Overrun by invasive vines and brush, this ecologically degraded thicket has been the site of hours of caring destruction: cutting, pulling, entangling, uprooting, planting, and building. Our intention is to amplify the voices of endemic and invasive species by performing alongside them: a mode of reconsidering the effect of human apathy onsite. I realized quickly that I couldn’t speak for beings who had grown over measureless time. Their methods of survival enabled international journeys before their lives were ended at my hands. I could, however, enable a respectful human presence: to creatively reframe our surroundings as an act of care. To welcome performers and audience alike to invade and see what heals in our absence.
By arranging the uprooted plants and collected debris into sprawling sculpted brush piles, we have created the backdrop and featured “character” for performances in April 2023: a productive end to the lives of detrimental plants who settled by necessity. Our performative activations will challenge standards of natural care and the origins of invasive species. This approach to applied research is in alignment with the mission of the Cornell Botanic Gardens, the current overseers of this land: “to inspire people—through cultivation, conservation, and education—to understand, appreciate, and nurture plants and the cultures they sustain.”
Alternating between devised, improvised, site-specific, nonsensical, time-based, playful, meditative, and performative actions, we embody the twisted and unpredictable spirit of our surroundings. Forming a performative environment from scratch is a creative dream. Effort and budget are redirected toward replanting instead of rehearsing in windowless rooms and building disposable scenery. To respect indigeneity and recall earnest perspectives lost in childhood, we assume our roles in nature's play. Like it or not, I have taken a side in a struggle between nurturing and death. This process, culminating tonight, strives to reconcile this conflict by caring for the past and future of our land. Following our play, the course of growth chosen by the woods will ultimately reframe our momentary activations.
-Adam Washiyama Shulman
April 10th 2023
Information on non-native plants and stewardship from the perspective of Western botany:
These highlighted species wreak havoc in Palmer Woods by out-competing species that evolved and naturalized in our immediate environment.
Online resources in Haudenosaunee history:
As we consider our "invasion" of Palmer Woods, harmful and caring, it is critical to read more about why such remediation can be a step toward the rematriation of land to the cultures she evolved alongside.
Pre-performance images. Performance and installation documentation coming soon.
Isabel Padilla Bonelli
Anabella Maria Galang
Thanks to these students for their assistance
Gwyneth Song Gravador
And thanks to these real adults
Paul Ramirez Jonas
P. Byron Suber