Edward J. Walsh is the author of Stranded, the latest release in Playwrights Local’s PodPlay Series. The Cleveland-based playwright has had his work performed at Dobama Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Cuyahoga Community College, and Chagrin Valley Little Theatre here in Northeast Ohio, along with several productions Off-Off- Broadway.
We’re thrilled to share Ed’s reactions to the following 3 Questions.
Where did the idea for Stranded come from, and what were you hoping to achieve with the play?
When growing up, like any kid, I had some obsessions. One of these was to someday see an honest-to-God whale. A really big one. But a vast body of fresh water like Lake Erie, near where I lived, couldn’t provide whale-watching. So it was years before I saw my first whale, off the coast of New England. That whale was a humpback. From that moment on, anytime I came within sniffing distance of salt water, I tried to go whale-watching. And, of course, I began to learn how we had decimated whale populations. Worse, how we are still doing so. Efforts to ban the hunting of whales are simply ignored by some nations for crackpot reasons. Even greater depredations occur because we are turning our oceans into virtual garbage dumps. It is enough to get a person pissed off — even to write a play about the plight of these colossal creatures. So I decided I wanted to do just that.
The character in this one-person play, Vickie Schultz, finds herself at important turning points in her career and life. What do you think is compelling about her story?
What I hope is compelling is that Vickie comes to understand the value of the life that has been lived — and is now about to end — by one of the most magnificent mammals in the world. Vickie is dealing with her own life of trials and tribulations. The whale initially adds to these. As she sees it, Moby Dick is just another pain in the ass. But in time, Vickie sees the whale not as a burden, but as a living, breathing, perhaps sentient creature she admires and wants to help. Her transformation is a gift, almost, that makes her want to fully live the life that she has, while she has it.
Environmentalism is a recurring theme in the play. Can you explain where that comes from for you and how it connects to Vickie’s story?
I probably addressed a lot of that in answering the first question. But consider a few facts about our oceans. Reliable sources tell us that the ocean is already filled with 165 million tons of plastic. Massive “garbage patches,” consisting of untold numbers of microplastics, are continually swept across all levels of our oceans by swirling currents. And ponder this prediction: The World Economic Forum estimates that by mid-century, plastics in the ocean will outweigh all the fish in the ocean. And Vickie is a witness to what the appalling mess we’ve made of things can do to one of the mightiest of this planet’s creatures.
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