In the “Making Tracks” series, RCC fellows and alumni present their experiences in environmental humanities, retracing the paths that led them to the Rachel Carson Center. For more information, please click here.
Environments needle their way into our minds, becoming the settings for our stories but also telling their own tales.
Landscapes push back, shaping our bodies as we move through our lives. As Seamus Heaney wrote, the landscape is “written into your senses from the minute you begin to breathe.” I was raised in Kerry on the west coast of Ireland and that, no doubt, has shaped me. Land positioned on the Atlantic seaboard means a mild and moist climate, battered peninsulas, and roaring tides. It’s where red fuchsias blanket the hedgerows, where ridged and furrowed lazy beds are etched into the landscape. It, too, is etched into and on to my body. Our stories are our engagements with our natural worlds.
Several years ago, as a fine art undergraduate, I tried to paint pictures that captured that interplay between the body and its subjective environmental experience. I was (in my own mind) painting that effervescent vitality that goes beyond words. For the last several years, theatre, that visceral art medium that involves the artist’s body merging with its surroundings, has been the locus for my exploration of environmental narratives—narratives that are produced as the space around us bears down on our skin, into our senses, and on to our minds. Bodies and space are constantly engaged in the production of a performance, and it is this environment that I review in my recent publication, Re-Place: Irish Theatre Environments. Continue reading