This Green Plot Shall Be Our Stage: On Nature, Solitude, and Finding Yourself in the Joy of Theater

Samantha Streit ’22 at the Duke Gardens. Photo by Will Rawlings.

From April 14 to 16, I will present my original one-woman show This Green Plot Shall Be Our Stage at the Duke Gardens’ Fisher Amphitheater. The show begins at the main entrance on Anderson Street with an audio tour, where I will guide audience members through the Gardens and encourage them to lean into wonderment. Then, the audience will settle into their seats and my character, the Player, will take the audience on a journey into my forest and explain my love of theater through Shakespearean language. Every character I play falls into something over the course of the show: madness, death, love. The Player navigates through the story without answers but with companionship, retaining optimism amid uncertainty.

This Green Plot Shall Be Our Stage

By Samantha Streit ’22

Thu, April 14 & Fri, April 15 | 6pm
Sat, April 16 | 2pm
Duke Gardens Main Entrance (Anderson St. Entrance)

More info →

Last summer, as I considered what project could serve as the culmination of my Duke experience, I knew I needed to do something that would inspire and reaffirm my love of theater. I was intrigued by how nature—in particular, the forest—acts as a metaphorical place of potential, freedom, and magic in Shakespeare’s works. I decided to explore my forest: the theater, which offers an escape from the conventions of the rest of the world and a space where people are willing to shift their perspectives.

Photo by Will Rawlings

As I developed my show, I began every day by journaling in natural environments before heading off to the library to scour archives and watch performances of Shakespeare’s works. I found that the journey into my forest felt like wandering in the magic and joy of the world, but at many points I also felt lost and alone. I realized moments of inspiration can exist alongside moments of solitude—both are important. In This Green Plot Shall Be Our Stage, theater provides an ephemeral, temporal connection to feeling less alone.

Most Duke students are focused on pushing forward rather than stopping and reflecting on their desires for the future. The forest requires contemplation—a challenge to sit in the stillness and occasional discomfort that is at odds with the treadmill of success that drives much of our daily life. Personally, I feel drawn to the paths invited by the forest, but also affected by my experience at Duke. I want my performance to inspire people to consider how letting go of reason and immersing oneself in transition can allow for growth and self-actualization.

“I want my performance to inspire people to consider how letting go of reason and immersing oneself in transition can allow for growth and self-actualization.”

Being in the driver’s seat of this show has pushed me to be more decisive. I often seek approval from others, but I realized I need to also follow my gut. I have thought a lot about what it means to pursue my passions—especially how making theater my source income may influence my relationship with it, and how this will likely be the last time I perform without worrying about compensation. Through it all, I’ve been continuously reminded that I’m eager to meet more artists and creatives who can support me in these endeavors, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not nervous about the difficulty of this next step.

Photo by Will Rawlings

By inviting others into a theatrical world of my own creation, this performance will undoubtedly be the most vulnerable thing I have ever done. I am inspired by Shakespeare in the Park, my favorite theater space because it is located in Central Park. When at home, Central Park, and and the Gardens while at Duke, were my respites in the height of the pandemic when theaters were closed. I’m excited by the endless and unknowable possibilities: because the show will be performed outside, in a natural space, I can invite the audience into my imagined forest by joining me in a really, natural space. This is also going to be the last show I perform to an audience almost entirely composed of people I know—though it’s often a more frightening task than performing for a group of strangers, it also means the love and connection between us will be that much stronger. I hope audiences find resonances in the piece especially as they think about their own life transitions, as I am, moving from Duke into my own new forests of discovery.

Samantha Streit is a senior pursuing a major in Theater Studies, a minor in Psychology, and a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This year, she is a writer/content creator for the Creative Arts Student Team (CAST).