The EcoShakespeare series will air on the three consecutive Wednesdays prior to Shakespeare Uncovered premiere dates. Each adventure will combine the on-site performance of a scene from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and a field trip into a uniquely north Florida setting - guided by biologists and experienced naturalists. Florida State University Shakespeare scholar Dr. Bruce Boehrer will lend insight - tying the words and historical context of William Shakespeare to our local natural settings.
The segments will air individually as part of WFSU-TV's Dimensions program. An April 8 at 7:30 pm ET, the three segments and additional material will air as a standalone program titled EcoShakespeare.
In Act II Scene I, Titania laments to Oberon that their quarrel has ruined the land. Shakespeare would have been familiar with the destruction of the natural landscape; England in his time deforested the countryside in what Dr. Boehrer calls that country's first energy crisis. A similar clear cutting would eventually occur in the American southeast, destroying all but a small percentage of a forest that stretched from Texas to South Carolina. Jim Cox of Tall Timbers Research Station leads an expedition into a rare tract of old growth longleaf pine to show what the forest would have once looked like, including trees that may have been saplings when A Midsummer Night's Dream was written.
Later in Act II, Scene I, Oberon dispatches Puck to find an herb in the forest with the power to make people fall in love. As Dr. Boehrer explains, Shakespeare's upbringing in rural Stratford-upon-Avon would have given him knowledge of the plants growing on the countryside, knowledge he may have drawn on in writing this scene. Colbert Sturgeon, one of the stars of National Geographic's Live Free or Die, leads a group around Tallahassee's Lake Iamonia in search of an edible and medicinal bounty.
In Act II, Scene II, Titania is sung to sleep by her fairy attendants. Their song is a spell of protection against all manner of creatures that might disturb her. Similar attention is paid by area residents to Wakulla Springs, an ecological treasure being threatened by lower life forms- toxic algae and invasive hydrilla. Activists have been trying to raise awareness in urban Tallahassee, whose wastewater and storm water runoff have loaded nitrates into the spring and damaged a unique ecosystem. Springs activist and former chief biologist for Florida State Parks, Jim Stevenson, leads a voyage from Tallahassee to the Spring, following the flow of water and illustrating the vulnerability of the springshed.
Jim Cox heads up the Stoddard Bird Lab at Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy, an independent research and conservation facility near Tallahassee. The Lab studies the relationship between the use of prescribed fire and the habitat needs of the many declining species of birds associated with southern pine forests. Current research focuses on Brown-headed Nuthatch, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, and Bachman's, Henslow's, and Grasshopper Sparrows. Birds are one of the most visible components of these fire-maintained forests that once stretched from once stretched from Virginia to south Florida to Texas and harbored a rich diversity of plants and animals and.
The Lab also is engaged in land conservation efforts that make use of special programs designed to conserve habitat for rare species on private lands. The programs typically reduce regulatory requirements by providing incentives that help landowners improve conditions for rare species.
Cox received his Master's of Science from Florida State University and worked as a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for many years before moving to out Tall Timbers. He also taught a popular bird-watching class at Florida State University for several years and continues to try to lure new bodies into the birding community. You can learn more by visiting the lab's web page: http://www.talltimbers.org/vertebrate-ecology.html.
Via foresthostel.com: "Colbert left the financial planning industry to learn survival and simple living skills. After taking numerous courses from many famous schools, he built a one-room cabin in the woods from which practice he had learned. He has been learning and teaching survival and simple living skills for more than 20 years and is a well-known instructor at many earthskills events across North America. His unique teaching style makes it a pleasure to learn and remember."
Sturgeon is also a star of National Geographic's "Live Free or Die."
Jim Stevenson served as Chief Naturalist of Florida's State Parks for 20 years during which time he developed the educational and the land management programs for the state park system.
He was Chairman of the Florida Springs Task Force that developed a protection strategy for Florida's springs and he was Director of the Governor's Florida Springs Protection Initiative that implemented springs protection projects. Jim retired in 2003, after 38 years with the Department of Environmental Protection.
Jim coordinated the Wakulla Spring Basin and the Ichetucknee Springs Basin Working Groups for 18 years. He serves on the boards of the Wakulla Springs Alliance and the Florida Springs Institute.
In recognition of his dedication to the protection of Florida's springs, the State of Florida named a large spring on the Suwannee River "Stevenson Spring" in his honor.
And for his longstanding stewardship of Florida's public lands, the Governor and Cabinet dedicated the "Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year Award" that is given annually to the most deserving state land managers in the Department of Environmental Protection, the Division of Forestry and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Jim recently wrote his book: "My Journey in Florida's State Parks: A Naturalist's Memoir."
Madeleine Carr specializes in American history and is particularly interested in Wakulla Springs and its surroundings during the late British and early second Spanish period around 1800. She is a founder member of Friends of Wakulla Springs State Park and now retired from teaching history at Tallahassee Community College. She has written a book about the art at the Wakulla Springs Lodge that opened in 1937.
Bruce Boehrer, a faculty member at Florida State University, is the Bertram H. Davis Professor of English and Frances Cushing Ervin Professor of English, 2009-2011 with a B.A. from the University of Texas at El Paso, 1980, and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, 1982 and 1986 respectively. His research interests are early modern animal studies; the history of sexuality; food studies; Milton; Shakespeare, Jonson, and the early modern drama; sixteenth- and seventeenth-century neo-Latin verse. http://www.english.fsu.edu/faculty/bboehrer.htm
Coordinator of Educational Outreach
Other Sources of Information
A Song of Protection for Wakulla Springs: EcoShakespeare (2/11/15 - WFSU-TV)
Foraging and the Magic of Plants: EcoShakespeare (2/4/15 - WFSU-TV)
Clearcutting the Longleaf Forest: EcoShakespeare (1/28/15 - WFSU-TV)
WFSU Perspectives: Shakespeare Festival (1/8/15 - WFSU-FM)
Auditioning for Shakespeare (12/24/14 - Tallahassee Democrat)
Did Shakespeare write his plays? The Eco-Answer (12/17/14 - WFSU Ecology Blog)
Southern Shakespeare and WFSU team up to shoot segments (11/10/14 - Tallahassee Democrat)