Not every dinosaur died in the mass extinction that ended the Mesozoic Era: birds survived. These fossils are evidence that bird survivors rapidly diversified in the tropical conditions of the early Cenozoic Era. By 50 million years ago numerous new forms had evolved, including ancestors of many living tropical birds. Both of these pictured bird fossils are from different but undermined species. They both are from the Eocene period, some 34 to 55 million years ago. These fossils were found at Fossil Lake, WY.
Tamarack House by Michael Dowling was the second offering in this year’s Ignite! festival that the Saint Louis Repertory Theater is producing. We attended a reading of this play on Wednesday evening. The following is the Rep’s synopsis of this play:
A big, old boarding house sits on a beautiful spot of land in a small New England town, but its days are numbered as housing developments encroach. The house is rundown and beat up but has hidden potential, like the discarded misfits who live there. Caught in the whirlpool of a fleeting American dream, they struggle to hold onto the house that defines them. They’ve got to figure out what to do, and quick. A funny, quirky and moving story by an exciting new American voice.
Playwright Michael Dowling hales from the Berkshires were you can imagine that this play was set. He studied with David Mamet at NYU and you can further imagine some Mamet influences in this play. Dowling’s writing is verbose, but his dialogue is snappy and the language is salty, all very Mamet like. I liked Tamarack House better than this year’s first offering Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976 by Rebecca Gilman. Both plays featured a twist ending, but the one in Tamarack House was the more believable. Further comparing the two plays, Gilman’s play seemed the more polished of the two, but that might just be where these two projects are in the development cycle. I want to give a shout-out to Joneal Joplin, the hardest working actor in Saint Louis. He played Earl, the retiring owner of Tamarack House.
Ancient tamarack trees could have been contemporaries of the fossilized birds shown here. They might have tweeted from its branches or hissed like a lizard. Who knows what they sounded like? Most if not all of the characters in Dowling’s play are on the verge of extinction. Their habitat, this house, is the key to their survival and they inhabit a very fragile ecology.