Voices of the South has been commissioned to create an original play about the Arctic wilderness. The irony of having a small regional troupe developing a new work about the northernmost part of Alaska isn’t lost on playwright Gloria Baxter. “It could be seen as a kind of hubris,” says the retired U of M theater professor, who has devoted much of her career to turning books, stories, letters, and just about anything that isn’t a play into playable dramatic texts.
Wild Legacy was created for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge. It was primarily inspired by Two in the Far North, a book by naturalist and Arctic explorer Mardy Murie, and it never addresses recent controversies over whether or not to extract oil from the refuge. Baxter, who toured the area in 2001, says she’d rather create a sense of what the region is like and let people decide for themselves.
“Most Americans will never experience the Arctic firsthand,” she says, vividly describing encounters with wolves and migrating caribou herds. “That doesn’t mean it can’t impact the imagination.”
Wild Legacy begins a two-week preview at the Evergreen Theatre on November 12th, prior to its official premiere in Fairbanks, Alaska, on December 6th. After that, it will tour to several U.S. cities. — Chris Davis