The sound of the wind across a Prairie field, the smell of grass on the first day of spring, the vocalization of birds in the early morning woods, the silence of the lake at night interrupted by call of the loon – these are the shapes and sounds of the Prairie landscape. Katherine Koller invokes the Prairie setting as a central character in each of the four plays in Voices of the Land. Serving a supportive and, at other times, antagonistic role, the landscape acts upon the characters, driving and intensifying their transformation.
The land and those who live in intimate terms with it are the focus of Koller’s plays. In The Seed Savers, farmers face pressure to purchase genetically modified seed; a protagonist refuses to sell untilled land for development in Cowboy Boots and a Corsage; a dying woman sees a lake as her final resting place in Abby’s Place; and in The Early Worm Club, Millie realizes a deep sense of belonging to the Alberta parkland and its birds while searching for her mate. Nature goes beyond mere setting and backdrop in these plays to effect transformation and resolution on the characters. Ranging from romantic comedy to drama and from one-act to full-length, the plays in Voices of the Land show western Canadians at the point of leaving, returning, and renewing against the backdrop of their native landscape.
Katherine Koller teaches in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta and continues to write for radio, stage and screen. Her one-act comedies have been produced across Canada.
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