This semester, Lydia McBee Reed successfully defended her master's thesis, culminating in a performance of her one-woman show Wolf Moon, a campfire ghost story that examines the line between humanity and the wild.
With nothing but a few lanterns and animal furs, Reed transformed the TTU Creative Movement Studio into an ethereal place. In her performance, a woman in a barren land makes spiritual contact with nature. Audiences watched Reed transform into the spirits of wolves and man and embody memories of a civilization long gone. It was an artistic interpretation of the works of wildlife artist and author Ernest Thompson Seton.
"I have always been passionate about conservation and the preservation of indigenous species. This is what drew me to Seton's works." Reed said. "My mom is a recently retired wildlife mammologist and ecotoxicologist. Seton's stories, along with those of John Muir, Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas, are the ones I grew up with. The show, as of right now, is about 40% adapted from and about 60% inspired by Wild Animals I Have Known."
Reed didn't know at first that she wanted to do a monodrama for her thesis, but as the idea developed, it seemed to be the most interesting option. The show was directed by Ph.D. student Cory Lawson with guidance from professor Jesse Jou.
"Jesse always says that grad school is partially about finding your tribe, the people who inspire you, and with whom you want to work for the rest of your career," Reed stated. "Cory and I have done a lot of work together, through KCACTF as well as directing together for the Burktech Players, and I would definitely consider him as a part of my artistic tribe. It just seemed like a no-brainer for him to be my outside eyes."
An average rehearsal included physical work, re-writes, and technical experiments, none of which came without obstacles or difficulty.
"I think with any theatrical performance or development of new work there is always something that comes up," said Reed. "Mainly it was how to develop this show for this performance now while understanding that the show still has room to develop further. I wanted the performance to give people a new consideration of the human animal's place on the earth and why we draw a line between us and them.
"I wonder how this will affect us and the world in the future."