Writing Samples

“Odin’s Horse” program note

[From the 2009 Pittsburgh Eco-Drama Festival, sponsored by the Carnegie Mellon University Center for the Arts in Society and the School of Drama.]


Odin’s Horse was the winner of the 2004 Ecodrama Playwright’s Festival in Oregon, one of the first festivals of its kind in the United States. Set in the redwood forests of Northern California and the mythic, treeless landscape of Iceland, the play is fiction – but the issues it tackles are as solid as lumber and mountains.

Here’s a truth: In 1993, one study found that of California’s 2.5 million-plus acres of old-growth – that’s slightly more than 2,500,000 – only a little more than seven hundred thousand acres were protected from logging. Put that another way: the total area of old-growth forests in CA is 3,945 square miles, which is about a thousand square miles smaller than the state Connecticut. The area of that that’s reserved and protected? 1,134 square miles – just a little bigger than Rhode Island.

The total area of virgin forests in the world, including old-growth forests, is about 5,057,938 square miles. That’s a little bigger than the continent of Antarctica. (Well, as Antarctica is currently shaped – but the breakup of the ice caps is an issue for another play.)

According to the National Park Service, 96% of the original old-growth coast redwoods – trees like Astra’s – have been logged. We’re never going to see them again – although a little bit of one of them might be woven into the paper this program is printed on.