By Devon Monihan
On Wednesday, Oct. 7 in the Alumni Auditorium, Kaiulani Lee appeared at KU imitating real life scenarios of the celebrated preservationist, Rachel Carson, in “A Sense of Wonder.” Lee commenced the play by giving background information about Rachel Carson, an American scientist and Pennsylvania native who has written many distinguished books on conservationism.
For over 22 years, Lee has toured throughout the U.S performing this play in order to spread awareness of Carson’s story: a woman who loved the environment and never hesitated to fight for it.
The play lasted about an hour with a five-minute intermission to set the stage for the final act. Act one was set at Carson’s cabin home on the coast of Maine in September of 1963, where Lee reenacts a long fight with cancer. Act two took place a couple months later at Carson’s winter home in Silver Spring, Md., where Lee portrays Carson’s parallel struggle with writing her book “Silent Spring” and with her attempts to create awareness in the American people despite deterrents from the government and U.S. industry.
Carson graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a master’s in zoology, where she intended to earn a doctorate degree, but began teaching science courses at the University of Maryland. After teaching, she began working for the federal government in fish
and wildlife services, where she worked for 16 years. She produced her first book, “Under the Seawind,” in 1941.
Unfortunately, Carson began to battle with cancer at a fairly young age. In “A Sense of Wonder,” Lee sensitively depicted how the radiation treatment influenced Carson, from affecting her outlook on life to preventing her from receiving awards that she had won for her books.
Many KU students came to hear about Carson’s life that Wednesday night. After the show, students had questions for Lee. One person from the audience asked, “Did you ever get the chance to meet Rachel Carson before she passed?”
She smiled and said, “No, but I did meet her son, Roger.”
For more information about Kaiulani Lee and her nationally acclaimed play, “A Sense of Wonder,” visit kaiulanilee.com.