Gesa Power House Theatre presents “John Muir: Watch, Pray, and Fight” a play created and performed by Mark Raddatz on Saturday, April 15 at 7:00 p.m.
In order to capture the essence of the legendary mountaineer, naturalist, and founder of the Sierra Club, Mark Raddatz composed the script entirely from Muir’s own words. This is not a biographical essay or paraphrase of an animal story. This is Muir as he would have appeared and spoken to an audience in his own time.
“I went to the University of the Pacific’s library for the bulk of my research,” Raddatz says. “They have all the Muir’s journals and other papers. Despite his having spoken before innumerable gatherings in the last 30 years of his life, I was assured that there were no actual printed speeches.”
After strenuous research in the newspapers of the period and Muir’s own papers, Raddatz found three. Traveling to Stockton, California, where the University of the Pacific’s Holt-Atherton Collections are housed, involved crossing and re-crossing the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges that Muir did so much to preserve. Raddatz took advantage of this to explore and camp where Muir did a century before.
“During my lifetime,” says Raddatz, “I’ve noticed popular culture has tended to tame John Muir, to rub the rough spots smooth and portray him as a warm and fuzzy eccentric; someone to take to our hearts, but not take too seriously. This was no Disney character chatting with the birds and squirrels; what Muir had to say back then is startlingly meaningful even now.”
Without explanation or exposition, Raddatz launches into the sort of talk Muir might have made during the fight for Yosemite and the national park idea. For just over an hour, the audience is treated to the poetry, wit, insight and passion that made John Muir the most effective voice for preservation in his own time and a remarkably pertinent voice in ours. His portrayal is thoughtful, thorough and humorous – and makes a very entertaining evening.
Mark Raddatz is a professional actor who has appeared in television, movies, numerous Shakespeare festivals, and many local Walla Walla theater productions. His roles have included the Reverend Shaw Moore in “Footloose”, Malvolio in “Twelfth Night”, Matthew Harrison Brady in “Inherit the Wind”, Jack Manning in “Angel Street”, Horace Vandergelder in “The Matchmaker”, the Duke in “The Merchant of Venice”, Claudius in “Hamlet”, Baptista in “Taming of the Shrew”, Henry Higgins in both “Pygmalion” and “My Fair Lady”, King Arthur in “Camelot”, Arnolphe in Moliere’s “School for Wives”, Jud Fry in “Oklahoma”, Theseus in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and many others. He was producing artistic director of Actor’s Repertory Theatre of Sedona where he directed numerous shows. For the Walla Walla Community College summer musical, Raddatz was the assistant director for “Bye Bye Birdie”, “South Pacific”, “Cinderella”, and “Grease”. He has been technical director, properties designer and set designer for various theater companies.
Reserved seating tickets ($18 Adults, $15 Students, including ticket fees) are available online or by calling the box office at 509-529-6500. Help spread the word: RSVP on Facebook