We sat down with any company/artist presenting at Ottawa Fringe (starting June 19th!) who wanted to chat about their upcoming shows. We gave them three minutes (approximately) to make their best case as to why we should pick them. We called it speed dating. From now through the day before Fringe starts we’re choosing one local, one national, and one international artist from those we talked to and previewing them here. Today’s local pick is Morgan Johnson’s High Tide
Though not everyone labels themselves an “environmentalist”, it’s difficult to argue that as a society we haven’t become much more environmentally conscious in the last decade. Whether by taking the bus, recycling, or becoming vegan, many people are committed to at least a handful of eco-friendly acts every day. But how many of us know where these behaviors really began? That’s a question Morgan Johnson hopes to address in her play High Tide which introduces audiences to Rachel Carson, mother of the modern environmentalist movement. A socially-relevant biographical play told with love and reverence: what more could you ask for?
What I Liked About High Tide
High Tide takes place in 1929 when Rachel Carson, a young marine biologist and budding writer, first encounters the ocean. Since childhood, Carson was fascinated with the ocean as the place where life as we know it emerged. In attempting to write a book about this enormous force that created everything, she realized she had to see it first hand and so at the age of 23, she discovers the majestic power of the ocean in person and is utterly transformed. She goes on to write Silent Spring, a book about the harmful effects of DDT, and later garners the first major government support of environmentalism. If Rachel Carson is a superhero, this is her origin story.
Like all great superheroes, Carson is complex: both a radical freethinker and a dedicated scientist, Carson was quiet and introverted but charming and sharp-witted too. Johnson boasts that her subject is a “very enchanting character to watch” and I have no doubt of that given the utter passion with which Johnson speaks of her heroine. A solo storytelling show’s success really depends on the performer and High Tide is blessed with a narrator who is fully committed to her story.
Johnson initially explored this story as part of a theater school project and felt so strongly about the necessity of sharing Carson’s message that she has expanded it with more research and rewrites to the 45-minute play debuting at this year’s Fringe. In writing High Tide, Johnson pulled excerpts from Carson’s writing and speeches to lend more authenticity to what is essentially historical fiction on stage. She also made the conscious choice to keep the show simple both to respect Caron’s own steadfast approach to work and to draw attention to the story’s substance instead of style.
This is an important story to hear. As Johnson explains, “the play looks to challenge the binaries between self and environment, humans and non-humans, culture and nature… it shakes up our perceptions of how we see the world.” Though High Tide is set 85 years ago, its message is perhaps more important now than ever before.
For more information on High Tide including show time and how to buy tickets, visit their show page on the Ottawa Fringe Festival website: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/high-tide/