Plantable Performance Research Collective is made up Lisa Woynarski, Meghan Moe Beitiks and Bronwyn Preece.
Plantable Performance Research Collective is a trans-national trio (UK, Canada, 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.
Our most recent project was the Trans-Plantable Living Room, in collaboration with Tanja Beer of the Living Stage and Green Stage theatre, which took place at World Stage Design in Cardiff, Wales and Central School of Speech & Drama in London in September 2013. This project was supported by Artist’s Project Earth. As part of our rehearsal/research process we made a short film: a series of performative plantings in our three different locations, inspired by interviews with Cardiff gardeners conducted by Rosie Leach.
Our first collaboration was an ecological performance action in Nashville. On November 1st, 2012, Plantable performed an ecological action on the streets and state capitol of Nashville, Tennessee. 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 performers proceeded to the grounds of the State Capitol where they 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—not chemically potent enough to harm any worms involved. Amidst curious 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. This piece was featured on the Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts website (January, 2013) and an article we wrote is in Issue 10 of the CSPA Quarterly. We also wrote a paper for ASTR about the conceptual underpinning of the project entitled: “Restorations, Actions, Ecoventions and Questions: An exploration of the potential of ecologically restorative flash mobs”.
The Celebrated Trees of Nashville, Tennessee:
Meghan Moe Beitiks is in the final stages of an MFA in Performance at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. She works with culture/nature/structure, connecting very practically with ecology and sustainability. Her performance work has seen her jogging with plants, flinging mushroom spores over fences and breathing rhythms into air. She is always looking at her own inner ‘nature’ and searching for ways that its connection to the environment might be maintained, improved or remedied. Meghan works and creates in many facets of culture: performance, design, management, writing. She understands culture by tilling her own visual and emotional landscape—that of blogs, network television, art lectures and online video clips. Please read more at: http://www.meghanmoebeitiks.com/about/
Bronwyn Preece’s passion for expression marries art with activism, melding ecological, social and political engagement with physical theatre, movement and writing. Her work focuses on interrogating the dichotomies between culture and ‘nature,’ self and ‘environment’, seeking ways to embody and overcome these binary constructs. Bronwyn is an eARTist: an deeply ecological improvisational artist-practitioner-reciprocitysearcher/restorysearcher, who is in the final stages of a SSHRC-funded MA in Applied Theatre at the University of Victoria, Canada. Bronwyn’s graduate work is focusing on the facilitation of a community-devised, site-specific/sensitive/sensuous cross-generational and cross-cultural performance: Performing the Ecology of Place: Embodying an Eco-Cultural ‘Living History’ on Lasqueti Island/Xwe’etay on the entirely off-the-grid island she ethically calls home. Bronwyn is the pioneer of earthBODYment and the author of Gulf Islands Alphabet (2012) and the forthcoming Off-the-Grid-Kid (2013). She has written for the Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy and her poetry is used by and featured on Deep Ecologist Joanna Macy’s website. Her play Never Cry Dam was a semi-finalist in the Earth Matters On Stage EcoDrama Playwright’s Competition 2012. Bronwyn has developed a Food Security-into-Drama Handbook: Workshops for the Classroom and Community that is employed and promoted by the Canadian nationally-respected urban-farming NGO LifeCycles Project Society. Please read more at: www.bronwynpreece.com
Lisa Woynarski is a performance maker and researcher. Currently a PhD candidate (and visiting lecturer) at Central School of Speech & Drama, University of London, her research centres around the development and articulation of an ecological performance aesthetic as a way performance may foreground, engage and interrogate ecological relationships. As a performance maker, her practice involves working outside of conventional theatre sites, especially in urban green spaces. Since completing an MA in Theatre Directing (Royal Holloway, University of London, 2009) she co-founded Green Stage, with Rosie Leach, a company dedicated to making work about our complex relationship to the changing environment. With Green Stage she has directed productions and led workshops in such places as the Union Street Urban Orchard, Spitalfields City Farm and Regent’s Park, London. She has also worked extensively with Hampstead Theatre’s Heat & Light young company and IsoProductions. In 2010 she worked with Arcola Theatre as an Energy and Sustainability Intern on their innovative Arcola Energy project. Along with creating new research-informed performances with Plantable, she is currently developing a Performance and Ecology Network, with Dan Barnard of fanSHEN, at the Young Vic which will support theatre practitioners interested in engaging with ecology. Please read more here.