Story last updated at 3:12 p.m. Thursday, September 26, 2002

Play tells environmental writer Rachel Carson's story
by Carey James
Staff Writer

Today's generation many not remember the name of the woman whose research and ideas shed light on the impacts of pesticides to the environment.

They probably don't know that one woman's efforts helped bring about legislative actions to protect the environment, such as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

But even those who are familiar with Rachel Carson's work as a marine biologist and zoologist and author of "Silent Spring" -- the book that likely caused the ban of the pesticide DDT in the U.S. in 1972 -- probably don't know the personal trials she persevered through as her words prompted a nation into action.

"A Sense of Wonder," theatrical tribute to Rachel Carson, author of "Silent Spring."

  • Where: Mariner Theatre

  • When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

  • Ticketsl: $10 general admission, $7 Pratt Museum and KBBI members. Children under 13 are free.

  • Call: 235-8635

  • A play presented this Wednesday will strive to tell both stories.

    "A Sense of Wonder," a one-woman play written and performed by Kaiulani Lee, tells the story of Carson's life as her book was being catapulted into the spotlight. Lee used Carson's diaries and letters as well as help provided by Carson's biographer to recreate this period in Carson's life with the hopes that the play would help inform the younger generations and inspire environmental awareness.

    Melonie Shipman, the environmental education coordinator for the Alaska National Maritime Wildlife Refuge, said the play likely would be of interest not only to those already tuned into the environmental world, but to anyone who enjoys good theater.

    "It's extremely well done," she said. "It's kind of like going for your basic meal and being surprised with a five-course dinner."

    Shipman, who saw the play earlier this year, said the story touches on the drama of the publication of "Silent Spring." At that time, Carson was battling cancer and serving as a foster parent to her nephew. When "Silent Spring" turned her professional quest into a national debate, Carson had to deal with her newfound role in the spotlight.

    "She was an extremely private person," Shipman said. "She was totally blown away by the response."

    "A Sense of Wonder" has been performed more than 200 times in the U.S., Canada and Europe during the last nine years. Lee's theatrical background includes 20 years on stage starring in numerous plays both on and off Broadway.

    She guest starred in many television series, such as "Law and Order," and appeared in several films, including "The World According to Garp."

    The play is part of a series of events to be presented by the refuge in the coming year in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the national wildlife refuge system as well as the opening of the new Alaska National Maritime Visitor Center in Homer. It is sponsored by the Pratt Museum, the refuge and KBBI.

    Carey James can be reached at