Olmsted and Whitman Plays

Gerry Wright as Fredrick Law Olmsted           

Beginning in 2003, Gerry Wright composed a one-man play about the life of Frederick Law Olmsted, the ‘father of landscape architecture.’  The play focuses on the life of Olmsted and his varying careers and accomplishments.  In Boston, Olmsted designed the Emerald Necklace Park system, and he is also well known for his design of Central Park in New York City,the Niagara Waterfalls Park and many other National Parks.  Olmsted knew the impact of public green space on health, and he advocated for open spaces to improve public health.  Furthermore, he saw a direct link between health and environment while working as the Executive Secretary for the Sanitary Commission of the United States from 1861 through 1863.

            Olmsted thus designed his parks to boost the importance of parks in the city.  His designs focus on creating open green spaces for ‘clean’ air as well as having well-drained water systems to improve sanitary conditions in the late 1800’s.

            Gerry Wright has performed the play in six different states and Russia, adjusting it for several different functions.  He focuses on Olmsted’s commitment to social justice, conservation, and public health.  More importantly, he saw the importance of these fields working together.

            Recently, Gerry performed for community members in Jamaica Plain.  In June, about 70 people gathered at the First Church Unitarian Universalist in Jamaica Plain to watch the play on Olmsted and Whitman’s lives. The theme was “doing and being.”

The time was split examining the lives of two American greats who were very influential on society in differing ways- Olmsted from doing and Whitman from being.

            Olmsted has also been performed in Maryland at the Montgomery College, Chautauqua 2010. He attends several Emerald Necklace Conservancy events each year, and in 2010 the Mass Horticultural Society invited him to perform..

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