Last December, a play about humans and oaks premiered at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park, Sonoma County. This one-woman show titled “Who Will Heal the Ground?” featured Diane Pepetone of the Mattapoisett Players and examined the plight of northern California’s oak trees. Ms. Pepetone is a Mendocino County artist with over 30 years of performance experience.
The show weaved together the life stories of three female characters and some of the perils that California’s oaks are facing today. The characters in the show included a daughter, mother, and grandmother, as well as a bulldozer operator, the fungus that causes sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum), and a 400 year old Interior Live Oak. Through stories, dreams, song, and dance, Ms. Pepetone portrayed a complex story about the three generations of women, all along focusing on 400-year-old oak tree and the issues surrounding oak woodland conservation.
This play was a treat for oak enthusiasts and provided a unique educational experience on woodland conversion and sudden oak death. Ms. Pepetone did an excellent job of portraying Phytophtora ramorum as the mysterious and infectious organism that could outsmart us all. Also, her rich and expressive singing voice helped awaken the audiences’ connection to the local native oak forests.
Backdrop for "Who Will Heal the Ground? by Lilia Lobo de Albuquerque.
prepared and edited by Adina Merenlender and Emily Heaton