John and Rachel Pave the Road

A long term project, John and Rachel Pave the Road…, grows out of  research, writing, and recorded material that pulls from personal experience working in the world’s largest DDT factory, the legacy of Rachel Carson, the controversies surrounding the ultimate ban of DDT in the United States, and memories of my father, John, who was the plant manager and an ardent supporter of the responsible use of DDT. I am particularly excited about exploring structural devices that speak to the conflict and themes of the work.

I worked with New York based actor, Drae Campbell, to explore and develop the complex characters of Rachel Carson and John Kallok. Through design driven response and improvisation founded in research, we developed real and imagined moments in their lives. Drae  explored the strong, witty, humorous and energetic facets of Rachel Carson, which contrasted with the many depictions of her as quiet and reserved. Drae also embodied my father, the chemical engineer, nature lover, and DDT manufacturer. The collaboration began to uncover the interconnected worlds of these characters by identifying the overlap, connection, and conflicts. Drae composed short monologues and dialogues as a path toward connecting with these characters.

Below are slides representing some of my design ideas. I experimented with projections, projection surfaces, and silhouettes over a period of five evenings, The Blue Barn, Bramble Hill Farm, Amherst, MA:

A group of nine students and I mounted a short workshop performance that just touched upon some
of the research and design impulses. It was good to see the work alive and in three dimensions: