Nature: A Walking Play

Grinnell College will host three outdoor performances of “Nature — A Walking Play” about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau from Sept. 11-13 at the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA).

TigerLion Arts will present the mythic telling of Emerson and Thoreau’s mutual love affair with the natural world. Grounded in the story of their friendship, the production offers a perspective on their lives that is strikingly relevant, richly complex, and yet utterly simple. 

A professional ensemble of actors will take the audience on a journey through the natural environment as scenes unfold around them. Bagpipes, ancient flutes, drums and rich choral arrangements will be intricately woven into the experience. 

“Nature” is an extraordinary, family-friendly journey that co-mingles story, spirit, and nature, as a means to reconnect its audience with the natural world. This original work was collaboratively created with writer and actor Tyson Forbes, a direct descendant of Emerson. 

Two Grinnell College alumni have key roles in the production. John Catron ’02 plays Thoreau and Sara Shives ’97 serves as production manager.

A walking play

This show will require about a half mile of walking in a mowed area. A limited number of golf carts will be provided to those in need. Audience members are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets to use during the show, which runs about 90 minutes. We also suggest you might want to bring some bug spray as there may be insects out this time of year.

Open Dress Rehearsal

On Thursday, Sept 10, there will be an open dress rehearsal of Nature at CERA. It will begin at 6 p.m. A college van will be available to transport those who do not have a vehicle. Please sign up at the box office if you would like a ride. The van will leave at approximately 5:15 p.m. and will return at the conclusion of the play.

Guided Nature Walk, Question and Answer Session

On Saturday, Sept. 12, in addition to the performance actors portraying Emerson and Thoreau will lead a guided nature walk from 9:30-11 a.m. and a post-show question-and-answer session from 3:30 to 4 p.m.

Both events are free and open to the public and no tickets are required. Vans for those who need transportation will be available at 9 a.m. at the Rosenfield Center.

Food and Beverages

Please feel free to bring picnic-type food or beverages for any of the performances.

Water will be available on site.


Buses will be available for each show.

Please meet in front of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, 1115  Eighth Ave., at 5 p.m. for the Friday show and at 1 p.m. for both the Saturday and Sunday shows. Buses will depart at quarter after the hour. Buses will return to campus following the show. An additional pick-up will be made to retrieve those folks who would like to stay for the post-show talk on Saturday.

Please sign up for a space on the bus when you pick up your ticket.

You are welcome to drive to the show if you desire – there is limited parking at the education center.

Directions to CERA

Conard Environmental Research Center, 11203 S. 12th Avenue, E. Kellogg, IA

From Grinnell, take Highway 6 west for 10 miles. Turn south (left) onto Highway 224. Drive 1.2 miles on Highway 224 and turn east (left) onto S. 12th Avenue E. (gravel). Drive on S. 12th Ave. E. for 1.5 miles, and look for the “Henry S. Conard Environmental Research Area” sign on the right. Turn right onto the lane and drive 0.5 miles, following the left fork towards the Environmental Education Center.

Weather related cancellations

In the event of inclement weather please check the public events Facebook page  or the College website for weather notifications. If there are light showers the play will go on outside, if there is lightning in the area that show will be cancelled.


Although the performances are free and open to the public, tickets are required.

Ticket distribution will begin at noon Tuesday, Sept. 8, in the box office of the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St.

A limited number of tickets are also available at the Pioneer Bookshop, 823 Fourth Ave.

Any tickets not distributed by the box office will be available the night of the show beginning one half hour before show time at the bus pick-up location. For more information, call 641-269-3236.


Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations, 641-269-3236.


The performances and other activities are co-sponsored by Grinnell College’s:

  • Public Events Concert Series
  • Theatre and Dance Department
  • Center for Prairie Studies and Conard Environmental Research Area
  • Office of Development and Alumni Relations
  • Environmental Studies Program

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