A marriage of the arts and government took the stage Aug. 4 as Weed premiered at the Creede Repertory Theatre in Creede, Colo. The Colorado Rural Development Council commissioned the play last year, hoping to present a nonbiased - and entertaining - view of land-use issues.

During playwright Micki Panttaja's research for Weed, she toured parts of the West for four weeks, talking to ranchers, environmentalists, agencies, county commissioners and journalists.

In Weed, a farmer finds a weed on his property that turns out to be much more than just a weed. The species was previously thought to be extinct, and the discovery brings scientists, government officials and others onto his land.

A minimal set and six actors carry the story; the Creede production uses video to intercut the scenes on stage. A moderated 30-minute discussion period follows the play.

Panttaja incorporated lots of humor into the script, and used quotes taken directly from research interviews. "I tried to skewer everybody equally," she says. "I found absurdities and ironies on all sides."

Audience members from Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado said the play rang true to the ongoing land-use controversies in their home states.

Weed will be on the road in western Colorado, southern Utah, northern Arizona, New Mexico and Sun Valley, Idaho, from September through Thanksgiving. For performance and ticket information, call the Creede Repertory Theatre at 719/658-2540.

Copyright © 2000 HCN and Marcia Darnell

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