Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Out of the Woodwork

I think I’ve just found a group of fans to rival any other I’ve encountered at MCT!

Through my seasons here, I’ve welcomed a torrent of audience fans of mystery, from Keith Huff’s THE DETECTIVE’S WIFE to DEATHTRAP; of iconic characters of English fiction, from Holmes and Watson to Jeeves and Wooster; of artists beloved to Milwaukee, from Michelle Lopez-Rios to Di’Monte Henning; and more. If a popular etymology attests that “fan” is short for “fanatic,” our audiences are the most delightful of those enthusiasts in my experience. Their love is exceeding (and for that I thank them!).

I wouldn’t be hyperbolizing, however, to say that this collection of fans out-fans any other collective I’ve met in the Broadway Theatre Center lobby. Today, I’d like to introduce them. Conscientious, lyrical, rhapsodic, and effusive about their adoration are lovers not of a genre or character… but of a bird.

Erica Berman’s NO WAKE, receiving its world premiere at MCT, traces the growth of a friendship between a retired lake cabin owner and a teenager working next door. The catalyst and a fundamental link between them? Loons.

Photo from
As fans of the loon come out of the woodwork in anticipation of NO WAKE, I thought it fitting to turn the story over to them. Only they have the words to capture the spirit a loon brings to a place, the meditation and care it inspires in residents of that place, the deep and satisfying connection to one’s environment that they elicit through their presence alone. Here, a few voices. I’m sure in the audience you’ll hear more. And I invite you, if you’re a fan of the loon, to send me your stories!

 —Marcy Kearns, Associate Artistic Director

From Debra Krajec, local costume designer, director, and professor:

There is nothing in the world like the call of a loon. It is beautiful, haunting, lonely or joyous, but it is
Loon on Lake Winnipesaukee (nesting area)
Photo by Debra Krajec
like no other bird’s call. You often hear the call of a loon used in soundtracks for films (often in places where loons would never be – the jungle??) because it is so unusual. Loons are absolutely amazingly beautiful to me. The stark contrast between the black and white of their feathers, the shape of their very long pointed beaks, their long bodies, their funny webbed feet when you get a chance to see them. Although one bobbing on the water sometimes is hard to spot because even in sunlight the black feathers hide them and they seemed to meld into the water, their silhouette is unmistakable.

The thing I remember most, the reason they are so amazing to me, is their call. You will hear them at dusk or in the darkness of night, crying out. It's a mournful, sad, lonely sound. There is a loon that summer after summer comes past our place at night, and when it's quiet out, with no wind, his cries echo in the Cove and you can hear them bounce off the Hills. It's an amazing sound. They make several different noises, for different reasons. But the mournful cry in the darkness is the one that really touches my heart.

(Hear more from Deb in MCT’s Audience Guide!)

From Nancy Jacobs, longtime patron and friend of MCT:

My family has had a cottage in Northern Wisconsin on a 500-acre lake for over 100 years. I spent every summer as a child at the cottage, which included many hours on the lake. Cottage life is all about enjoying being outdoors, and we have had loons on our lake for as long as I can remember. The loon sounds are so comforting, and when I hear them for the first time on my visits, I feel as though they are welcoming me back to the lake. Every time anyone hears their unique calls from the lake, conversations usually stop to listen to the magical sounds. 

We have had a loon nest on our lake for decades and have watched each year the progression of the adults sitting on the next chicks hatching and riding on the adults' backs, watching the adults teach them how to swim and dive as they grow.  Whenever we are canoeing, kayaking, or taking a spin in the pontoon boat, we look for the loons and spend time watching them. Watching the chicks grow and seeing the interactions between the adults and chicks is particularly fun to observe.

Their natural nesting area has been flooded recently so in the past 4 years our Lakes Association has worked with Loon Watch of Wisconsin to put out a loon platform for nesting to ensure baby chicks are part of the future on the lake.

Loons are so interesting to watch – they can dive for such a long time that when they go down you never know where they will pop up. We rarely see more the one pair of loons on our lake but occasionally hear many loons together at night.