Episode 18

June 05, 2024


WolfGirl and Wild Mind

Hosted by

International Wildlife Coexistence Network Josh Adler
WolfGirl and Wild Mind
For the Wild Ones
WolfGirl and Wild Mind

Jun 05 2024 | 00:56:39


Show Notes

The journey of Wolf/Girl is more than a play; it's an exploration of myth, transformation, and the intricate ties between humans and the wild.



Heidi Kraay and Tiara Thompson



For the Wild Ones Theme by Priya Darshini

Born of the Frozen North by Sheldon King

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] HOST: How does art inspire change? In our latest interview, playwright Heidi Kray and director Tiara Thompson share how their production of a new play entitled Wolf Girl brings awareness to our connections with nature and the importance of coexistence. Coming up right now, on for the wild ones. I'm your host, Josh Adler. Thanks for joining us. [00:00:41] HOST: For the Wild Ones is brought to. [00:00:43] HOST: You by the International Wildlife Coexistence Network, a nonprofit organization developing and sharing nonviolent solutions to human wildlife conflicts. Wolf Girl tells the story of a misfit girl named Maddy who runs away from her hometown bullies and joins up with a wolf pack. This production captured our imagination at IWCN and offers a mythical yet deeply relevant window into today's complex human wildlife relations. Let's hear more from playwright Heidi Kray and director Tiara Thompson. [00:01:27] HOST: I'm wanting to start with the origins of this project and the story. You describe it in the script, Heidi, as myth. That really played through for me in reading through it and then how it came to you, tiara, and how it sparked your vision and the conversation that grew into the production at Boise State. And see how that plays to right now, how this project continues to influence your creativity or has shaped your artistry. [00:01:58] GUEST 1: Not. Thanks, Josh, so much. Thanks for having us here today and thinking about Wolf girl, really, the origins of this play, for me, probably started long before it has any inkling of it as a project. But as a young person that was really invested in the life and survival of wolf creatures and creatures in this whole planet, as well as thinking about my own adolescent turmoil and how all those things often can feel like being on the brink of extinction or survival or something like that. And so pulling all of these feelings together of the species of creatures that I love and what it is to be a young person growing up in this culture, even in the nineties, when it feels so peaceful. From this vantage point, maybe five or so years ago, I started getting a lot of inklings of what are the ways that we look at myths of the specific stories of the wolf, which has been something ive been interested in since, again, pre adolescence, and all of the Red Riding Hood stories and three little pig stories and all kinds of things since ancient roman days, and the history of the werewolf in particular, as this thing that is this really, really scary, haunting image that a human that's completely capable and cognitive loses all of their humanity and becomes bestial, and what a horrible thing. And then they start devouring everyone, and it's this horror show. So I was wondering what would happen if someone who was an adolescent girl or young person, that especially a woman identifying person, started to find herself changing and transforming in this way and myth is this transformative way of looking at story, what happens if, instead of it becoming this horror show, if it actually becomes a piece that can connect two different, very disparate cultures, being, in this case, either ranching culture or human culture in general, and this wolf beast that's been brought up as this enemy of humans and everything humans stand for millennia, it feels like. So, thinking about all of these things swimming together. As a playwright, I like to really think about at least three, if not more different things coming together, like many things, getting in and smashing in, and then seeing what is the simplicity inside of that. And so, for me, again, looking at this young person, that it is transforming beyond what they thought was possible, but as a way to escape who they were, but also to find out who they really are. So what is it to run away from hometown or high school bullies or a family that doesn't feel like they understand you, which so many young people and older people can relate to? And what if that piece of like, finding a new family, finding a new family out in the wild can actually teach us more about who we are and connect us with not just who we are in the earth and as we're part of the whole animal species of this planet, but what if it also teaches us more about who we are as humans? So I'll start there. And I think that was probably way too much information already. [00:05:16] HOST: No, I think Tiara is probably resonating with a lot of it. And I encourage you just to jump in and share how you got involved, but also just these pieces of it. And what's resonating with you? [00:05:29] GUEST 2: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, luckily, I've known Heidi for a while and of her work and her brilliance. So when they asked me to direct and I got to read the script I was in, because I not only got to work on new work, which is really exciting and important to me, but that I'm going to be able to work with Heidi every day that she was there in the room as a new playwright is a great privilege that we don't often get as makers and theater makers. So I was really looking forward to that. And then, as far as the content of the play, Heidi and I are probably both wolf girls. I've loved the wolves from a young age as well, animals in general, for me, where I feel passionate about reframing how we treat animals and what we do to them and why? Because, as Heidi mentioned, we're all interconnected in the grand scheme of things, and humans have slowly made their way to the top and then deciding how everything else gets treated. And unfortunately, that behavior actually has resulted in what we have now, which is not necessarily great things for all the other living creatures on this planet and for nature or for any of it. And so to be reminded through this play that we're not separate, that we are what we do to wolves, what we do to fellow beings, what we do to other creatures, we do to ourselves. And so it's a reminder of that big picture through the lens of this story of a young girl who, for me, leaves the structure that she doesn't fit into, which feels very patriarchal, and finds the missing matriarchal link of her life. And so, again, with that combination of having both, of having the understanding that we are interconnected, this place speaks to me, I think, on just a very deeply spiritual or kind of sacred level. And those are just things that I want to espouse in my life. Those are the things that I want to continue to make material around or the way that I want to live my life. And so if I get to work on a project that has this deep, beautiful value underpinning a story, yeah, that was the reason I was like, absolutely, I'm in now. Let's do this. Let's go. [00:07:40] HOST: I love the awareness of the play culturally in that Lakota, I think it is, speaks that it hasnt always been this way between wolves and humans or wildlife. In human, we havent always been in conflict. That sense of traditional knowledge and relations where we werent identifying as the apex species of all apex species is embedded within the characters understanding and epigenetics, I guess, really also fascinating to me, this characterization of Maddy, which hits a lot of different archetypes. I feel like as advocates and conservationists, she has this origin story of a lot of people who identify that way just in wanting to be a voice for nature and for wild creatures. She also has this kind of misfit archetype and feeling out of place and misunderstood, as you're saying, Heidi, this personal transformation and then her familial story of reconnecting with her mother, with the divine mother, that is hurting a lot in our culture now. That is really in a degraded place in everywhere that we turn. I'm sure we can all come up with ten examples of that. So she's carrying a lot. She's a powerful personage that you've captured, Heidi. And it makes me feel like, oh, I know a lot of maddies. It's not just women, it's people. She's got this universality to her, which is exciting to encounter, especially. I wrote to you, Heidi. It's concise. And despite perhaps your casserole like notion to stuff the play full of every idea, which for me, by the way, is the hallmark of a good artistic piece, is it can just, oh, this is a part of it, too. It draws in the connections of our world. It exposes the interconnections and relations and facets that are so complex. So it's like, oh, this is a part of the play, too. This is a part of the play, too. But the dialogue and the action, the writing itself is very efficient. It goes through the seasons of the action and then the development of Maddy from down and out abused to empowered the voice of many. And how did you arrive at that structure? How did you find something that it sings, this structure? It sings in a way, because it is centralized. It's not all over the place. It's very this scene, this scene, this scene. And then it's like, wow. Oh, it really went through this whole journey, but we did it pretty quickly. So where did that come from? [00:10:28] GUEST 1: First, thank you so much. What high praise, Josh, and deep reading and thank you. And thinking about where I arrived at that structure probably comes from a few different places. First, this being a play that, whether it's for young audiences, middle grade or older age, and thinking about what can be contained within all of these really big ideas, youre talking about in a vessel that feels like we can take it away into a 1 hour piece that can live within us and feel like it can speak to, hopefully all ages. I think that simplicity is always something I would hope for that might hopefully have some kind of ocean underneath it, something thats giant underneath, that can speak to, something that hopefully is clear. Even if I might say to playwriting students, however old they are, what can you be saying to a fourth grader or a four year old, even so it can speak to them. And I think even Tiara and I talked about this in early conversations, that Madeleine Lengel, who wrote a wrinkle in time, of course, would often say that if there was an idea that was too big or too complicated for adults, you would package it for children because they could understand it. So thinking about that in terms of simplicity, and also, as I was writing this over a period of several years, but then the actual drafting over the period of a couple of weeks and writing residency, I was a part of I was looking at a lot of different wolf research that I'd kept since I was a kid and thinking about this transformation story and how it felt important to me that each part of that journey, that there was something that she was fighting for, Maddie was fighting for, or learning or growing more wolf like each part of that season. And so there's some new takeaway, whether it's in the physical body or the soul of the wolf or the eyes of the wolf or a mix of those. And then maybe one other thing I may or may not have had in the back of my head as I was writing is this idea of the heroines journey, which is really to mythic storytelling. And a lot of us might be knowing about the heroines journey now, but previously, the heros journey was the thing that we all look to and speak about. And there are a lot of similarities, but the differences in the heroes and the heroines journey primarily is that instead of going out to seek a fortune, the heroine is often falling or in descent. Something is being torn from them. And so, like Demeter looking for her daughter in Hades, trying to go find something that was missing. And another difference is that instead of having the most power alone, as the hero does, the heroine has the most power with community and with the collective and with compromise. And at the end of a heroines journey, you can often tell, even with something like Harry Potter or a lot of superhero stories, that the final moments for the heroine, which can be any gender, is not alone and having conquered something, but maybe being apart from everything and maybe even being dead because they had to get what they wanted. But then they lost everything and are no longer connected with anyone else after they brought home the elixir. So the heroine at the end, like Harry Potter or so many superheroes or people in comedies, had this whole connected network that they've been working to learn from and grow from and use to help the community. So I think that's a lot of what Maddie does and whether or not that was intentional in the early writing. Later on, I started thinking about that a lot more and also about, of course, us humans that feel like Tiara said, that we're on top of this planet, that it's our job to use the planet, however we might do anything else thats here is for our benefit, which is going to leave us pretty alone and devastated at the end of that journey. Hopefully, the way to find a path forward past all of this might be to actually connect. And whether its for the wild ones or the International Wildlife Coexistence network, those ideas that if were actually as a collective, as a part of this planet, uniting with it and learning from it. Like you're saying, there are so many maddies and so many young people that I know, eight years old and younger and some older, they know this inherently, that they're connected, and that if you harm something else, that that harms them. So I think that a lot of those things are woven in, maybe in a DNA level that I wasn't aware of, again, in the writing. [00:15:25] HOST: I think I know some maddies that are 80 year old as well. [00:15:28] GUEST 1: Absolutely. Yeah, any age. [00:15:31] HOST: But yes, there are very few heroine stories that end well for the heroine. This sets a bold new precedent for that narrative arc, with the heroine howling and baring her teeth and running into the audience to awaken them, that this is about you, this is about our relations. It's about transforming our relations and our understanding of our place and role within a web of life, rather than the domination hierarchies that we currently operate within. Tiara, Heidi was talking about the transformation process of Maddy throughout the play, where she becomes wolf. Then her wolfishness, she gives up and recedes, and it kind of comes and goes. This transformation process, as well as unlike other werewolf stories, it's not horrific, it's not terrifying, it's not a disaster or leading to violence and chaos in her spirit and her behavior. How did you figure out together how to portray this transformational process? [00:16:38] GUEST 2: Yeah, I will say that one of the early things that Heidi said to me, which she said essentially, but just the distillation of that, of the anti werewolf story, where the transformation brings healing instead of terror. And I just really glommed onto that statement from her early yes, that's so great. But as we're talking about these ideas of the duality of life that we often find ourselves in, I was like, is it this or is it that? How do you have the both of it? And so how does Maddy maintain her humanity in her wolfishness and then have her wolf within her human? And as far as the production is concerned, that is the blessing of theatre, of a collaborative art form, is that we're all, hopefully, in this space together, thinking about similar things. And then I have a wonderful team of people who help figure out how to visually show this on stage myself. More. So is the director, of course, keeping an eye on everything, but working individually with the actor who portrayed Maddy to think about where she is at different points in time, how much time has passed, what has been going on for you emotionally, internally, externally, in the time that we don't see in the play. So those are some of the things for the actor, but as far as to see her transformation and then pull it back a little and see her as a hybrid at the end. Christine Harwood was our costume designer, and she's fantastic and just had a really beautiful vision to how to represent the wolves in general with masks and these tails. She just came up with something that I never could, and that's why she's a designer. So I was very grateful for her artistry, for her vision of that. And I think for me, as the director is really pinnacle moment of trying to show how Maddie loses her wolfishness in a moment. What I ended up doing is injecting a moment that's not there on the page that I've pulled in a moment of ceremony when she gets her mask to then remove her mask and her tail later. So it's a suspended moment where we see the wolves come in and remove what she has had, what she has worn, which is symbolic of how she has been with them and her time with them, and then she receives it again at the end. So she's got parts and pieces of it toward the end, visually, representationally, and, yeah, elevate what I feel is in the script, which is, as I said before, sacred. So ceremony feels like a part of sacredness to me. And so to include that in the production of this particular version at Boise State felt like the best way to portray that journey for Maddie. [00:19:24] HOST: Within that question, too, theres the question of how far do you go in presenting wolf behavior through physicality of the performances and the gestural dimension? [00:19:37] GUEST 2: Yeah, super important, to be clear with the actors and with the audience from the get go that it's like we're not going to be playing a full on version of what we think a wolf looks like, because that just doesn't work. Like, wolves bodies and human bodies are not made the same. They're not shaped the same. If we tried to move around on all fours, it just looks comical. It doesn't really lend itself to the spirit of a wolf, which is majestic. And so I think I tried to think in that term of what physicality can and bring into presence, like gravitas, whereas humans were kind of just, like, casual. Right. Humans gesture a lot and sit differently and maybe just are a bit slack. And so then the wolf body is that contained core. And Heidi and I both trained in the methodology of Suzuki, and so that's the route I used to get to wolf body because one of the tenets of Suzuki training for actors and for performers and for makers of all kinds is animal energy. It's called animal energy, actually, for that reason that an animal is ready most of the time. Obviously, if animals vigilance. Yeah, exactly. Like four or four wolves, for sure. And we see animals at peace when they're like, oh, my belly is up. And I feel like I can trust you. But at the moment's, notice a sound of any kind, like they're ready and they're prepared. And so I think using the Suzuki method for these actors to try and get them into their lower bodies and the life force, chi, whatever you want to call it, of, like, there's something constantly underneath what is living within you, and that that's you bring through. And that, to me, feels like present animal energy to showcase. So they didn't walk around on all fours. They were on two legs most of the time. A few crouches here and there, but with the idea that their lower half is underneath them and their core supported, to have this energy constantly flowing through them and toward the audience. [00:21:44] HOST: Theres another element of the play, a theatrical element, which is a classic one that Heidi baked in, which is the wolf chorus. How did you approach the presence of the chorus? How is it different, maybe, from traditional uses of the chorus? [00:21:58] GUEST 2: Anne Price did a lot of the work with the chorus, which is wonderful, because as a vocal coach, and she's just a fantastic resource. But as far as the idea of how it presented for me is that I thought of the wolf chorus as, they're the narrators, obviously, but that they come from the world that we are seeing. So they're almost like a third character. They are primordial beings, recounting both, telling the story of how this came to be, as in, this is what happened in the past, but also saying, this is what can happen in the future. And so they're a representation of time, even though it's not necessarily linear. And so they come forth and speak direct address to the audience to help them remember that they are also the audience. The audience is them. They are the people that can do something about it. They are the people who can see the story and feel something, hopefully, and think about it and then want to take action toward it. So I think the wolf chorus that Heidi wrote operates beautifully in not only telling the passage of time and the story itself as a vehicle, but that it also speaks directly to the human sitting in front of you. There's no veil of theatricalities, and, like, this was just a play and now I can go home. It's like we're going to talk directly to you and say, hey, do you know that this is what's happening and how do you feel about it and what do you want to do about it? [00:23:32] HOST: Becomes an element of connection. Another element of connection. Direct connection. Intimacy. That's really beautiful. [00:23:38] GUEST 2: Absolutely. [00:23:41] HOST: Well, Tiara, I know you have to run, but I really appreciate you hopping on to speak with us. [00:23:46] GUEST 2: Thank you so much, Josh. [00:23:48] HOST: So I want to back up a little bit and go through some of the events of the play now and dig into it a little bit more. So who is Maddie? Shes this kind of wild mind ranchers daughter. But what else? So much more. [00:24:05] GUEST 1: She is, as Tiara said, a misfit in misplace this person that again, she says she doesnt eat mate. And who does that in a ranchers town? She has a lot of big thoughts and big ideas, but I feel, and again, the concise nature of this play, we dont get to explore a lot of that, but we sense that something is not aligning between everything that she thinks and feels she is and whether her family, her school, her other places in her community just do not fit with that. From the very beginning, shes thinking about what her dad is doing in setting traps for the wolves and what that means for them. And she doesnt want to participate in that, but she doesn't want to go to school. All of these things that she doesn't want to be, and she just doesn't feel right or at home in her skin at all. And she knows that she's also, as you were mentioning before, the daughter of someone who is no longer there. So her mom disappeared at some point, and a lot of people think that she's gone for good. She has this hold that feels that she's somewhere out there, somewhere that she can find. So I know in a lot of senses that she is her mother's daughter. And we find out more about that as the play goes on. But because she isn't in a world that is not a part of that, where the mother was maybe deemed not fit to live in this world, maybe crazy, maybe something else that that's not okay or that it's not a place that she can be at home in this place. But I do feel like theres, beneath all of that turmoil and theres the tempest inside. There are a lot of things underneath, those big feelings that empathize with something larger. And it feels like, for me, learning more about Maddie, what she needs and she doesnt get a chance to express where she is at first, to see that theres a world larger than where she is and that when she can put her attention on something that is so much bigger than everything that she thinks she is trapped inside, then she can actually have a purpose that is beyond anything that anyone ever pegged her for. [00:26:23] HOST: A lot of people out there or listening will feel like that, will feel that they want to connect to something bigger than themselves. Maddie runs into the forest to find her mother. Presumably she encounters Lakota, a wolf who is stuck in a trap, perhaps a trap that is set by her father. Do you want to speak a little bit more about the significance of discovering a wolf in a trap as well as then what happens? [00:26:50] GUEST 1: There's so much in there, and something I didn't mention before is that all of the wolves that are named in this play are named after wolves that existed. And even Matt, seeing who Maddy becomes, is named after one of the original Sawtooth pack that existed as a pack together. And Lakota was one of those wolves. And actually, as a kid growing up in the nineties, I was able to sponsor and give some money to Lakota every month or so with my dog sitting muddy to help him find what he needed to be a wolf in the Idaho land where he lived. And so for me, Lakota has an extremely personal connection, as do all of these wolves that were his brothers and sisters and other kin. So thinking about first, anyone who might love a dog or might love any kind of animal or living thing, to see someone actually trapped and actually in a way that's going to lead to their death, likely as we're seeing so much in the news right now, things happening in Wyoming and Montana right now, awful, awful things that are happening to wolves that are like things that happen in the late 19th century, early 20th century in a way that were returning to somehow cyclically. And so theyre imagining seeing a wolf in a trap, whether it is toothed or not. I could imagine Maddie feeling so much fear at that and loss and a sense of grief and a sense of a need to act. But also, there is a wild creature here. It's not a dog. It's not another human. And who knows how this being that she might love, in theory, how this being would actually react if she were to save this being. So there is a danger there and there's a hope, and there's a chance for a second future for both of them. Because when Maddy does help Lakota, she's helping herself. And I think she learns that in the process. And I think she knows that she needs to do this. I need to do this for you to make up for what my people have done and what perhaps my dad has done to you in order to save yourself. [00:29:02] HOST: Yeah. This act of kindness, of reconciliation, of healing. In that moment, she does save Lakota. He's not able to run away really. He needs her help and he grants Maddie a wish and the opportunity to go meet the pack, which she does. She's really excited about it and she's on her heroines journey. It pulls her into the forest, into the mountains and then she gets introduced to the pack and she talks to Motaki. Motaki says we have a hard life. A wolf's life is a hard life. I think this is something that people don't often consider, but it's important information the play is holding here. Talk about that. Why a wolfs life is hard and why you felt like it was important to include that. [00:29:48] GUEST 1: Yeah. Thanks so much for asking about that. Im also thinking back to some essays ive read about when it is to take hunters out into the wild, human hunters out to get trophies. And it seems like theres an idea in human culture that the carnivore is the one that lives well, lives easily. They go out and they get their meal and then theyre just fat and happy until they need to go and eat some more. And its the poor deer, the poor elk, the poor rabbits and all of these creatures that are being wiped out by these bestial carnivores. And the carnivores life in the wild and wolves is one of them. A little bit omnivorous, but still very, very much eating meat. If theyre part of their diet, they live really hard lives and they're hungry most of the time. When they do get fed, the things that they're eating have some kind of disease often, or some kind of worms or something in their belly. So they're constantly dealing with sickness inside that they're having to use their amazing immune systems to fight through. But most of the time their hunts do not result in a kill, in an elk kill. Even though they're incredible creatures, the way they coordinate together, I've heard that the. [00:31:11] HOST: Success rate is around 20%. Hunt. They often get injured in the hunting process. I think that's in the play too. So yeah, there's all these conflicts. Their lives are short, they're brief and they're difficult, but keep going. [00:31:27] GUEST 1: They're running all the time to find what they need and moving their habitats very, very far distances every year. So there's this part of the play that's about humans and other creatures, but there's also this part of the play that's about humans and other humans or other entities that are different. And I think that what we can do a lot in our minds as human beings, and this is on our minds a lot. It's an election year and so forth. There's this other group of people or this other group that is bad or doesn't understand our way of life. And they have it easy because of whatever reason. And so they are taking from us, they're taking our cows, they're taking whatever. And because of that, it is up to the good of the universe and the earth or whatever to wipe them out or keep them in check. There are wars happening right now that are looking at this right now like, what is a good being and what is a not good being that doesn't deserve to be here? And it's interesting how we continue to black and white everything in that way, but thinking about wolves as creatures that are not just going and killing all of the elk, and they're keeping these creatures in check themselves. Who will take over a landscape in the way that any dominating being can take over so much in a way that we do for sure. When we start to see this inside what a life of a wolf is really like, we might hopefully, maybe not that we're so alike because of that struggle, but also for Maddie, that this is not an easy choice to make. I'm going to become a wolf and then all my problems will go away. Im going to walk off into the woods and then because I dont have to go beyond email all day or go to school or whatever, then everything is going to be easier. If were just going back to the wild, everythings probably going to get harder in some ways. But theres a trade off. So I think structurally in the play, learning about their hardship is learning more about that trade off. And are you sure, Maddie, that you really want to take this leap into being something else that youre not? [00:33:50] HOST: Yeah, theres just no easy outs. It doesnt matter what kind of creature you are or what kind of person you are or where you live or even how much money you have. Theres no easy outs on this planet in this life. I love that. And that it finds representation, it finds conversation in the play. So Maddie does choose to join the pack and just become a wolf. One of the biggest obstacles for the pack that she becomes a part of are the human obstacles. What are the human obstacles and conflicts that the pack is encountering and trying to survive. [00:34:28] GUEST 1: Again, this is a play that's in a mythic kind of structure. So the play isn't saying that humans do this all the time or they do this in every way that's lined up in the play. I think there might have been some worries early on that I'm saying that a bunch of people are just going to go and try and kill off all of their elk or their cattle or something as a way to track wolves. But the hunters in this state and the humans in this play are representing what humans have done throughout centuries. And so some of the things that they do is, first, that are setting out traps, and they're setting out strychnine poison, they're setting out other kinds of things that are a regular part of what people might do even now to control wolves, so to speak, or control a predator species. And this starts to actually come to a war, in a sense, where this group of people are really starving out the wolves that are in this area because theyre afraid and theyre trying to do what they can to kill off as many of the things that they would eat so that they can draw the wolves in to eat their cattle, and so then they would be ready to kill them off for good. And so the wolves, led by Maddie, are understanding human ways more so because of her. And so they're able to run and get away to a place, I imagine, further north and traveling with the elk as they're leaving. But as they come back, then they're finding that many of the animals that they knew, including one of their own from their, one of their brothers, has also died because of one of those traps. And so, yes, the humans really become the predators in this play. [00:36:17] HOST: Its also poetic justice or irony that Maddie is able to earn her place in the pack through her humanity by capturing and removing traps that the pack has less facility to find or to be able to deal with without being captured or caught in them. And then later, when there is a fire and the pack is trapped on a mountain, as a fire is encircling them, Maddie's able to summon the little remaining human faculties that she has to cry for help. And again, we have this kind of anti story, an anti representation. It's not the boy who cried wolf, the girl who cried help, which allows her to reconnect with her family and her human family, as well as to save the wolf family. Now, I'm sprinting ahead a little bit here because in the parts of the story where they're discovering the impact of the trapping on the other animals and on their own relatives. We get to an understanding and a kind of conversation about hunting as well, and the importance of hunting in the pack, learning to hunt, the need to eat meat. And I want to touch on this for a moment because it's also something that is rarely discussed with such courage in terms of traditional societies have hunted for thousands of years. Predators hunt to survive subsistence hunting. And so including this kind of discourse on hunting brings up a lot of complexity in our cultural attitudes around hunting as well as consumption of meat, which is a huge, complicated landscape in todays discourse. So I just would like to hear your reflections on including this aspect of hunting and eating meat in the play in the story. [00:38:17] GUEST 1: Such a great question. I love talking about this. Yeah. So as I said, Maddie starts out as a vegetarian, but as a wolf she cant be, because if she tried to be, she wouldnt get enough sustenance as a young person, was vegetarian and vegan for like twelve years and mostly dabble in not eating meat or animal products, but more relaxed about it now, but thinking about what is our role as humans, but also as all of these species. There are species that need to eat meat. There are people, ive known some vegans, folks that have tried to make their animals vegan and their cats vegan, and that's not going to be healthy for them as a human population, as indigenous and other folks. It's been a part of our culture ever since before we were humans. So it doesn't mean that eating meat is bad, and it doesn't mean that being a rancher is bad. It doesn't mean that having cows that are slaughtered for our consumption is bad. But we are all, I believe, connected in some way. And so the way that we are paying attention to how we are eating and what we are eating and the way that cycle is moving does matter. So the way that a wolf might kill is very different than a factory farm might pay attention to this. And it is not about killing as many as possible, but finding the one that is ready for them. And whether or not you believe it, theres folklore that says that the wolf will have a conversation with the herd theyre paying attention to, and there will be one that might stand away or that might break away from the rest of the herd as a way of giving themselves up and saying, its my time. And again, cant get into really a mind of an elk or a mind of a wolf that well. But to imagine that there is this conversation that this being thats being used for feeding them is something that they are going to eat all parts of. And then the parts that are the parts that they do not. Other ravens, crows, scavengers that are interdependent with this pack is also going to sustain themselves off of this. And what happens when, again, these elk, or these deer, or previously bison, before they were almost exterminated by us, their populations would keep in check so that they would be okay as a herd, and that our earth, trees, and all of the things that grow in this planet, they maintain a lot of more greenery and cycling. It's like anti tilling to what the earth does, and it allows for all kinds of things to survive and thrive. And, yeah, eating each other is a. [00:41:10] HOST: Part of that, I suppose, in a scientific, ecological sense, life is built on metabolics. All life has a metabolism that processes nutrients that require nourishment in different forms. However, it's clear to see that factory farming leads to a lot of unhealthy results, not only for humans, but for the more than human welfare, and doesn't provide good living, doesn't provide good nourishment either. So it's a kind of devil's agreement in a mythic sense. It's this faustian bargain, the factory farming side of it, to keep with the mythical dimension. Now, I want to get to a question that you are welcome as an artist, to deflect or answer however you like. Is Maitake Maddy's mother? [00:42:02] GUEST 1: I do feel that that Motaki is Maddie's mother. And there's been questions in my mind about how clear to make that and to make it more clear in the production side of it, but also to let it be a question to see, like, what happens if we're not completely sure. But maybe Maddie and Motaki are sure about this. And for me, a lot of it comes from ancient mythic stories of a person going away out into living generally, like, let's say, a wolf or a seal, living generally outside in the world and then going away, but becoming a human for a time and then going back out into the wolf world or the sheol world. [00:42:45] HOST: There are many traditional stories that have this kind of transformation and familial sensibility. It's beautiful. [00:42:51] GUEST 1: Yeah, absolutely. [00:42:52] HOST: So Maddie decides to leave the pack. Why does she do that? [00:42:56] GUEST 1: Something you were saying earlier. I loved that parts of her humanity actually end up helping the wolf pack more than she would. If she were to completely be a wolf right from the beginning, she wouldn't have been able to handle the traps and bury them in the same way as a human can with thumbs and so forth, being able to go and with the last of our humanity be able to call help. But in that fire that again, humans started to trap the walls that she got caught in, she was also hurt by her own father. So she becomes human again. When she is shocked, not knowing that it's his daughter, her father ends up shooting this wolf that becomes human again. But he doesn't know really what happened. He has an idea that he knows what happened, but he sees that he may have shot his daughter. He brings her back home to heal her and to get her better and get her back because she's been away for about a year now, and she finds out as she's there and Lakota has followed her back, that while she's trying to mend and get better, she knows that the hunters, including her dad, will retaliate for her being out in the wild with them, that they are in danger. And so in order to protect both sides and to protect the new family that she has, she returns to the wolves, but not as a wolf. She knows that she does have the chance to become wolf again and that it will come back, but she knows that she won't be able to make any kind of real difference and real impact for the wolves if she stays a wolf. So if she were to say a wolf, she would like that life, but she would lose perhaps her whole wolf family. And so she goes back to becoming human in order to save her family. [00:44:48] HOST: That representation of fluidity between the human and the more than human is just a beautiful element in the storytelling. What is the message that the pack gives to Maddy to take back to the humans? [00:45:02] GUEST 1: They give her a number of messages, but the main one, I'd say, is that we're more alike than different and that we as wolves can learn from you and you humans can learn from us, that we're never here to take from you. And instead, maybe you can learn how to live if you learn more about wolves and keep us safe. [00:45:26] HOST: Maddy succeeds, in part. When she takes these messages from the pack and from her experience as a wolf, she succeeds in part. People receive her message. It resonates with them. She's able to help people change. This is not a falling on her face or falling on deaf ears. People respond to it. Why did you feel like this was the way that the story should develop? [00:45:53] GUEST 1: Yeah. It could have gone so many different ways. Right. It starts with that kill the monster energy. So why does she actually have any kind of impact and I think for me, again, knowing that this is originally a play for young audiences, whether it's young at heart or actually twelve years old, that to hear that going out on a limb and making this giant request could be met with possibility of acceptance, even if it takes a long time, I think it makes us want to do it more, and hopefully it makes me want to keep working on this. And the idea that what might often happen where a person might go out and be shut out or drowned out by all the people listening or laughed at or harangued and in where we are right now with a lot of what's happening, it makes it hard to keep going. So I think just with any, not to say political kind of writing, but kind of movement of any course, there needs to be something that, whether it's music that is being sung together in a chant or in some kind of fashion at a rally, something has to keep us moving forward and keep us going. So I think it's hope at its core that we can and we have and we can again live and coexistence with these creatures. [00:47:14] HOST: Aspirational, but it's happening as well. Maddie is not alone. And you, in terms of looking for ways to do this work through your writing, but also in your personal life and habits, are also not alone. There are people who really want to change our relationship with nature in a way that is healthy for people and creatures that are not people as well. It's something that is resurfacing in our culture and our consciousness and even in international political realms. For instance, the upcoming Cop 16 in Colombia this year, the theme is peace with nature. It's on people's minds, which is great to see it floating to the surface. And being a serious agent or voice in the room was super important to us that three of your performers came and gave testimony at an Idaho fish and Game hearing committee recently. Do you want to speak a little bit about that and how now the voice of these wolves, even though they're mythical wolves and mythical voices, are literally speaking to public officials? [00:48:25] GUEST 1: Yeah. Thank you, Jess. And thank you for that reminder. Yes, there's so many people doing this work and caring about this and resonating with this. There are also people like Chantal Bilodeau with climate change theater action. I mean, people are caring about this and making plays and work about this and real impact, just like you and so many people you work with and even ranching communities and farming communities that are finding out that, hey, we really need to work with this earth. And not till and bring the cows back onto our farming lands and have many different diversity of species of things that we're farming so that its all working together because it doesnt work for us in the long run. If were only working for ourselves, everything ends up dried up and theres nothing left. And it was incredible to watch these recently graduated college students come to the Idaho fishing game again, surrounded by a group of people that may not agree with what theyre saying. But these brave actors, who had never spoken in a political capacity or spoken at a meeting like this, decided to some of them, wearing their masks from the play, speak as they're wolves and speak in their three minutes or less to a panel of people that thought it was interesting and really passionate and a little bit entertaining. One asked to take a photo of them in their costume, but the electricity in that room was reverberating. And it was incredibly inspiring to watch this group of people pay attention to these people who are embodying wolves again. Yes, characters of wolves, but wolves with names of wolves that already have existed. And there was someone who had been linked to the sawtooth pack that was there that night. And it meant so much to him to hear these names again, the room and for these creatures to live on in this way and to teach us in this way. It was a remarkable night to witness. [00:50:33] HOST: That's so beautiful. And for them to be equipped with your language, for your language to reach public officials in their kind of home court. To use a bad sports analogy, my last question is that the play ends in this kind of wild exuberance of Maddie howling and running off the stage into the audience, breaking the fourth wall, as we say. But that, to me, provides another articulation of the spiritual dimension of this play and her character, which is spoken in the phrase wild mind. That Maddie has this wild mind, and that's what drives her from the beginning. It's why she doesn't fit into the reductionist, materialist family that she's been raised in. It's the mystery and mystique in her Persona that's driving her into the forest that makes her enthusiastic and curious to become a wolf and to understand and live as a wolf, even though there are hardships and there's still hierarchy in the pack, things like authority that she feels resistant against. But then it transforms her, too, this wild mind, again, kind of character or element. Do you want to expand a little bit on your sense of what this wild mind is in us and how can we apply it? [00:51:57] GUEST 1: Oh, my gosh. I love this question. And I hope to apply it in my life. I grew up as a writer, paying attention and reading Natalie Goldberg, who has a book wild mind, thats all about how do we as artists or writers, starting from there and then we can work out how can we unleash the things inside of us that we're most afraid of? And often that's by doing everything we can do to let go of the editor, let go of the censor, let go of the things that are trapping us in this world. Like who can live in the way that we're trying to be so regimented right now, overstressed, overworked, overwhelmed with so many demands and digital stream time. We're living in this box that we can fit in our hand and it's not at all sustainable. It's making us brainy. And ourselves are so big, our minds are so big, our souls are so big and often are just pushing them down into schedules or timetables or this idea of again, mythically chronos, that God of time and structure, eats his children, we're eating ourselves, we're eating our internal children. When there are these wild parts of us that are vastly connected to nature, to the wild, to something, the monstrous in us, the beast in us. And when something I work on all the time and fail and continue working on, when I try to meet and accept that inner beast, that inner monster wolf or whatever inside of me and actually make friends with that and see what does that thing need? What does that mean? Screaming tantrum, baby kneading. And I try to listen to that and take it on a date or month long retreat or something like that. Like what is the thing I can do to be in my own skin? And usually it's not being in a screen, it's not being infracted work week. But how can I get in my body? How can I let go of everything and try and just pay attention to my breasts for a bit and go and be im looking at where its green outside my window right now and be in the earths splendor and just visit with edge of getting to be with the redwoods. A year ago I was lucky to be in Iceland and commune with the puffins and the Arctic terns there and being in water, being barefoot and in dirt. How can we get out of what we think that we are? The traps that I often put myself in and realize we are so much larger. I don't know if any of that answers your question, but it all answers the question I think about all the time. [00:54:41] HOST: Yeah, it's escaping the bubble verse escaping the echo chamber, right? Only to realize that everything around us is intelligent, everything around us is waiting to speak with us, to play with us, that there is receptivity and reciprocity awaiting us, and in that is endless connection and life. So it's a kind of resuscitating our network, our place in the splendor of it. It's a well chosen word. There is a splendor that is available to anyone who wishes to step out, to step away from the screens and to breathe it in, as you're saying. Well, thank you very much. This was a really fun conversation. [00:55:28] GUEST 1: Thank you. Thank you. [00:55:36] HOST: We hope you enjoyed this conversation, but be sure to stay tuned with the securing of a new grant to produce Wolf Girl in several new venues. The play is just getting started on its journey out into the world, and IWCN will be following along with tails wagging. Thanks for listening. [00:55:58] HOST: That's all for this episode of for the Wild Ones.

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