Debs reflects on the rain

I loved that it rained when I got round to savouring the performance in the Trans-plantable Living Room. That there wasn’t too much light as a result, and that the circumstances gave the project I’d seen grow and bloom in the two weeks prior, an extra hint of untamed wilderness. As the performers moved about to the recorded voice of someone whom, like a flower, needed just a bit of water and direction in his life, I forgot myself and went along with that thought – drifting to the all-encompassing rhythm of the movements before me on the living stage.

The uninvited character was stealing the show, alright. The rain brought us closer together and dared give us all similar parts to play. Audience and performers embraced its presence as there wasn’t much choice, but also because the whole Living Room was an irresistible invitation to accept our powerlessness over nature’s exuberance and mysterious ways. An invitation delivered in the same unspoken language used by gardeners to attend to their plants: One of love rather than control, labour rather than charge, tenderness rather than force.

The rituals of gardening are open to interpretation. I’m learning to read them as displays of committed affection between plant and gardener, designed to enable as well as deepen the lives of both. The performance in the Living Room incorporated the simplicity of these rituals to the pieces of furniture turned to exquisite planters of unique character and style, elements in a lifelong cycle that can be briefly suspended only by a good ol’ cup o’ Tea :0)

Deborah Freire Guarani Kaiowa is a volunteer at Riverside Community Garden, part of the team who built, planted and hosted  the Living Room.  

Something Magical Outdoors in the Middle of a Deluge…

We are reeling after a magical week of building, hosting and performing in the Living Room under the tree. Thanks to our incredible team in Cardiff for making it happen; your creativity, generosity, hospitality and patience have been truly remarkable. Particular thanks to our chief grower Sam Holt and creative builder Mark Terrett for holding things together, and the team at Riverside Community Garden: Dipak, Ying, Darren, Debs, Kate, Monica and Peter; Field Days Organics; Vegalive Aquaponics, Edible Landscaping and Adamsdown Community Garden: Polly and Becca in particular.

On Friday the rain fell, and then it poured. A few voices questioned whether the show should continue, but the call that  “the show must grow on!” won out and grow it did. Plantable’s three performers Moe, Bronwyn and Lisa adapted their show magnificently, and the plants in the space danced and gleamed. There is something magical that happens in a performance outdoors in the middle of a deluge. There is a sense of camaraderie that emerges between people who are enduring the elements together, sharing a tarpaulin and a hot pot of tea.
On Saturday the sun came out and danced around our tree. People turned out, intrigued, to wander around the space, sit, chat and drink tea. Children played peekaboo behind the wall of garlic and peered into the living landscape inside the TV; a woman brought her mother in a wheelchair and smelt the herbs. The performances were well attended and each time Plantable performed, I enjoyed it more, noticing little details about their movements.
Thanks to Nigel Pugh for the wonderful photos of Saturday’s performance.
We’re now preparing for a performance at Central School of Speech and Drama this Saturday, gathering plants from the gardens of London! If you know of anyone who’d like to get involved, let us know on

Bore Da from Bronwyn

It is early morning here in Wales…and the Trans-Plantable team of creators are all waking to get an early start on furthering the development of this multi-dimensional project coming together (after a very late night of working together)!  One could never have imagined the levels of complexities and details in realizing this vision: the creation of an outdoor, edible, living trans-national stage……that very much is growing together…..but one, that equally must consider and is dependent on being attune to our co-performers: the plants…..and how that is doing everything to change-up in the most visceral way any-and-all traditional approaches to theatre and performance… other words: many of the trans-plantings (including the moving of our set from garden to World Stage Design) cannot be done until the very last minute…..

And if you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Trans-Plantable Living Room this coming Friday and Saturday at WSD….keep a look out for sprouting puzzles, hot-and-spicy chandeliers, what emerges from the pages of books…and don’t forget to turn on the light…..!  Come for a cup of tea made with freshly harvested herbs from the garden……

It has been absolutely extraordinary having the entire creative teams together, now offering us the opportunity to ALL work with the growing/set building team of Riverside Community Gardens……where their and our jobs are being blurred every moment, as we butt up so nicely against the delineations of artist/gardener in this project……

Sitting together and sharing meals, made with freshly grown vegetables harvested from the Riverside Community Garden, I have had the wonderful opportunity of engaging in dialogue with Sam Holt, garden coordinator: comparing our experiences and dealings with my and his growing of particular plants…the similarities and differences between our respective situations and placements……and trying to brainstorm solutions on how to best resolve a problem with a particular patch of purple curly kale here in this Welsh garden….which by all accounts, seems to be about 3 weeks behind my Lasqueti Island garden in Canada (in maturing cycles)…..and through the shared experience of growing the same plants, we are able engage in a wonderful exchange…..literally sharing commonground!

The Show Must Grow On!


Rosie on how the seeds were planted…

Gardening projects are defined by the cycle of the seasons, and this one, despite its hybrid nature, is no exception. As the first signs of spring appeared in mid-February, a core group came together online to start sharing ideas for the project. As with the gardening year, preparation of the ground began way back; with conversations between Tanja Beer of the Living Stage, and Bronwyn Preece, Meghan Moe Beitiks and Lisa Woynarski of Plantable Performance Research Collective at the Earth Matters on Stage in 2012, when they started to dream about an ecological flash-mob that left a positive impact on the place they performed; with chats between Lisa and I about working on a theatre project in Wales, or back in 2010, when we created a performance in a community garden in London with Green Stage theatre group. Over the winter, ideas for a collaboration for World Stage Design in Cardiff had begun to take shape: to create an ‘edible’ living stage and a playful performance created to fit and activate the space.

As community engagement coordinator, I began by emailing a handful of gardening groups in Cardiff, and to my delight, received positive responses from the first groups I contacted. These early conversations with Sam Holt of Riverside Community Allotments, Katie Jones of FCFCG, Poppy Reichelt of Adamsdown and Michele Fitzsimmons of Edible Landscaping helped to nourish and shape the project in its fragile, seedling stage.
From May to July I had the privilege to interview 19 gardeners from around Cardiff about how they started gardening and what it brings to them. The ideas and stories shared gripped me and made me excited about sharing them further; over the last month Plantable have drawn on the recordings to inspire their performance, while Lisa, Claire Bracegirdle and I have drawn out a few choice quotes for a small book.
Meanwhile gardeners around Cardiff have prepared plants for the stage, assisted by a growing plan by Michele Fitzsimmons of Edible Landscaping.  There’ve been planting workshops at Riverside Community Garden with Sam Holt, our growing coordinator, and Adamsdown Community Garden, with Becca Clarke of Green City Events. In July we held a story-telling workshop at with Katie Jones of FCFCG, in which people shared their gardening memories and Katie told a wonder-tale, inviting the group to help create the flow of the story.  
Over the last month the team has grown, to welcome Rabab as film-maker, Sarah and Mawgaine on production, and brilliant growing and building volunteers. Our trans-national creative team have begun to arrive in Cardiff; Tanja from Australia and Moe from the states. After many months of skype calls it’s surreal to be in the same physical location! We’ve salvaged furniture from boot sales, charity shops, front gardens and skips. Building maestro Mark has led the adaptation of furniture into planters, while Sam has led the collecting of plant donations from local gardens including Adamsdown Community Garden, Field-days Organics, and Michele Fitzsimmons of Edible Landscaping.  
In the run up to the performances at World Stage Design on 13th and 14th we’ll be putting the finishing touches to the Living Room and welcome people to get involved: 10-5 at Riverside Community Garden on Wednesday 4th and Friday 6th September. We’re also inviting people to watch a dress rehearsal at Riverside at 6pm on Wednesday 12th. RSVP if you’d like to come along!

That’s Mark carrying a coat rack in a wheelbarrow.

IMG_1703 It’s because he is a powerhouse of activity. In the last few weeks the Living Room has really come together, Tanja has gathered all of the pieces from charity shops in and around Cardiff, Sam and Rosie have been traveling everywhere gathering furniture and more plants, Erini and I have been getting furniture from the Royal Welsh College Workshops. The pieces are coming together. This coming Friday Tanja returns, along with Bronwyn and Lisa, the rest of Plantable Performance Research Collaborative. The plants are growing strong, activated by the amazing volunteers at riverside and awaiting their moment to perform.

Bronwyn writes from her Lasqueti garden…

My favourite veggies to grow in my Canadian garden: Russian Kale, Orach and Cabbage!

I am busily and excitedly preparing to leave for the UK to literally get my hands dirty in Welsh soil (the land of my namesake)…while, my own garden — here in my wee entirely-off-the-grid island community of Lasqueti, off the west-coast of Canada – is bursting full of greens, towering beans, reddening tomatoes, kale, Swiss Chard, 10 foot long nasturtiums (yes!)…and sunflowers! It is ironic that I am leaving my own garden at the prime of harvest, to embark on a gardening project on the other side of the world…..but this is one of the aspects of this project that I am finding so incredibly exhilarating…where and how does the local, site-specific nature of gardening interface with the global? How, can I as a performer, interrogate these connections and dissonances? How comfortable is the fit between growing a zero-mile diet and a jet-fuelled miled diet to examine gardening from trans-national perspectives and how it related to climate change? I have so many questions and curiosities about this project and am excited to unearth them in Cardiff.

It has been such a rich opportunity to listen to the various recordings of interviews taken with Welsh-based gardeners…..and I have been delighting in learning what in the UK is called a courgette, here I call a zuchinni; a capsicum, I call a pepper; and a ladybird, I call a ladybug….just to mention a few. I eagerly await the sensation of Welsh soil under my finger nails….be it wet (from one of the wettest years in the past 20-30 years) or dry soil (from one of the hottest summers on record)…..
Growing with You and the Trans-Plantable Living Room,

Bronwyn Preece
Plantable Performance Research Collective