Pollak, S. L. C. (2022). Wildlands. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2513
In 1980, two women arrive at a dell in the shadow of Mount St. Helens and decide to build a house. More than four decades after the mountain erupts, the onset of a drought prompts the construction of a nearby dam. When a spark at the dam turns into a growing wildfire, the fate of the house and the family that lives inside is disrupted forever. Wildlands is a play that explores what it means to build a home in a time of extreme environmental precarity, when both ecological and social forces threaten the sanctity of what we call home. While our notions of wildfire have been shaped into viewing it as the enemy through decades of fire suppression campaigns, Wildlands aims to complicate the construction of fire as an enemy. For the natural world, wildfire is a regenerative force that many life forms need in order to propagate and create new life. Serotinous pine cones, for example, only open up to disperse their seeds when they feel the heat of a fire. Dead trees may lie on forest floors for decades in times of drought, and can only release their nutrients back into the soil in the event of a fire. Wildlands asks, why can’t we too begin to see fire as a source of renewal? Wildfire has only become an enemy to us because of the way we have set up our homes, our infrastructure, and our relationship to the natural world. Wildlands tells the story of a family who, in their loss, have perhaps been given a chance to begin again.