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The Celebrated Trees of Nashville, Tennessee (2012)

  The Celebrated Trees of Nashville, Tennessee
 -A Plantable Performance Research Collective* (Canada, UK, USA)

On November 1st, 2012 Plantable Performance Research Collective* [a trio made up of me, Meghan Moe Beitiks (USA) and Lisa Woynarski (UK)] performed an ecological action on the streets and state capitol of Nashville, Tennessee. As part of the American Society of Theatre Research (ASTR) conference, the performance began with a procession through the streets of downtown Nashville.

Carrying large red buckets full of red wiggler worms, the performance proceeded to the grounds of the State Capitol where we surrounded a tree and “planted” the worms at the base. Red wiggler worms are prized for their fertilization qualities and their ability to enrich the soil, providing nourishment for the tree. In conversation with State Capitol maintenance staff, we learned of previous, but not current, usage of RoundUp on these trees – necessitating further remediation, and equally not jeopardizing the life of the worms. Amidst curious looks and questions from onlookers, the performance sought to bring the research questions of the ASTR Ecology and Performance Working Session to a form of praxis, asking what the intersection of an ecologically positive action, performance and intervention would look like.

Plantable is a trans-national trio (Canada, UK, United States) examining the interface between ecological restoration, performance and community engagement. We start from the premise that the effects of climate change are, in part, due to the perceived separation between humans and the natural world. Through performance, we attempt to bridge that divide and highlight the interconnectedness of humans and the living world by literally and symbolically planting cultural memes. We posit that a struggle to connect is both a source of inspiration for our work and could lead towards mitigating the effects of climate change. We seek creative ways of tackling ethical imperatives around our current lifestyles and arts practices. Plantable strives to create low carbon impact performances and offset impacts that are necessary to the work. The performances we make are practice-based research – we both intend to create work that has a positive ecological impact, and accompany it with vigorous academic research of ecological performance-making.