Rachel Carson, the great American environmentalist, has been in Jan Bolwell’s life since she was nine years old. Her conservationist grandmother introduced her to Carson’s famous book Silent Spring that exposed the dangers of the chemical pesticide DDT. Jan revisits this book through adult eyes, creating a solo theatre work on Rachel Carson’s fight for nature.
Audiences find out about Rachel’s struggle to bring the insecticide issue into the light. We are challenged also to consider current issues in our own backyard. New Zealand ecologist Dr Mike Joy is interviewed, and Jan has a ‘virtual’ conversation with him during the work.
Bolwell states ‘While I delve into Rachel Carson and her life, I try also to make her work relevant to a 21st century New Zealand audience. These are cataclysmic times with Covid and climate change, so it feels timely to look again at Carson and the environmental and ecological movement that she helped spearhead through her writing. We are keen to have post show discussions with our local audiences to discuss ecological challenges in their own communites.’
An exciting creative team has worked collaboratively on this work – director Annie Ruth, composer Jan Bolton, lighting designer Helen Todd and set designer Trish Stevenson. Bolwell again ‘We have built this work together in its first iteration, and we are all keen to develop it further in the future’.
Wellington City Council is supporting this custom-built tour of Silent Spring Revisited to local community centres. It is a pilot study for art and community development to explore ways in which artists might build community within some of the city’s shared suburban buildings, and make connections with existing communities.