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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?



be silly

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!

Private Transportation:

  • 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.

Program Note

“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.


Pre-performance images. Performance and installation documentation coming soon.

Your Players:



Adam Shulman


Sofia Pereira 

Molly Hudson


Wulfgar Ramsey

Isa Goico

Sean DuMont

Ella Johnson

Emily Hernandez

Erin Giombetti

Khaly Durst

Isabel Padilla Bonelli

Coby Sontag

John Colie

Anabella Maria Galang

Adam Bruynestein

Gillian Harril



Thanks to these students for their assistance

Josue Herrera

Emad Jahmi

Paige Pepling

Leo Liang

Oliver Stern

Lindsey Potoff

Bradley Verhelle

Cook Shaw

Cici Liu

Shania Bravo

Shuqian Liu

Gwyneth Song Gravador

Priska Lambert

Taylor Bazos

Aishah Alhady

Ela Malaz

Yan Jiang

Sarah Bewley

Jonah Ginsberg

Ashley Bao

Belle McDonald


And thanks to these real adults

Tim Ostrander

Lisa Boquist

Sarah Bernstein

Savannah Relos

Theo Black

Jason Simms

Paul Ramirez Jonas

Emilio Rojas

Carl Ostendarp

Anamariah Knox

Beth Milles

Julianne Hunter

P. Byron Suber

Youngsun Palmer

Gary Gabisan

Pam Lillard

Sarah Bauch

Martha Walker

Daniel Shulman

Kaori Washiyama

Jules Ginenthal

Todd Bittner

Emily Detrich

Brandon Hoak


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