#GreenFests Highlights of John Muir: Rhapsody in Green

8th August 2014

This past Thursday, Creative Carbon Scotland attended a performance of  John Muir: Rhapsody in Green, a one-man production starring actor …

This past Thursday, Creative Carbon Scotland attended a performance of  John Muir: Rhapsody in Green, a one-man production starring actor Mike Maran. Our blogger-in-residence, Allison Palenske, reflects on the highlights of the performance, which has been shortlisted for the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award.

John Muir: Rhapsody in Green took place at Valvona and Crolla (a refuge for Italian foodies in Edinburgh) tucked away in a cosy backroom space in the rear of the shop. The intimacy of the space allowed for a comfortable sharing of narratives from the life of John Muir, Scottish-born conservationist best known for his pioneering work in California and Alaska. In the production, Mike Maran adopted the character of Reverend Samuel Hall Young, a young missionary who met Muir during their shared time at Fort Wrangell in Alaska.

Early in the performance Maran asserted, “There’s a moment when someone comes into your life and nothing can be the same again.” For Reverend Samuel Hall Young, this moment was when he met Muir. John Muir: Rhapsody in Green traces the Reverend’s experiences with Muir through a series of anecdotal recollections of their time in a wild and raw nineteenth-century Alaska. Alaska had just been purchased by the United States at this time, and little was known about this “last frontier” for America.

Muir’s fascination with Alaska initially came from the glaciers present in the region. He arrived to the territory with the urge to learn about glaciation (a process that is very relevant to the Scottish landscape as well) and the entire interconnectedness of this type of landscape to the rest of the world’s natural systems.

Maran wove an intricate web of astounding stories of Muir’s poetic ease within the wilderness, painting the picture of a man truly synchronised with the processes of the natural world. Though Muir is widely known for his writings, Maran provoked that Muir would have posed the following question- “Why would anyone want to read about the wilderness in a book when they could go and see it for themselves?”

The performance communicated memories of a time when the possibility of conservationism as a precaution was infinite. Not short of eco-inspiration, John Muir: Rhapsody in Green is a motivating production that celebrates one of the best environmental figures to emerge from Scotland.


John Muir: Rhapsody in Green runs at Valvona & Crolla Aug 8-9, 11, 13-14, 16, 18-20, 22-24 August, times vary.

Have you attended John Muir. Rhapsody in Green? Feel free to share your thoughts of the performance on Twitter @CCScotland using #GreenFests.

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About Creative Carbon Scotland

We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

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A project initiated by Edinburgh’s Festivals with key partners the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network

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