A contemporary drama based on actual events, Tooth and Claw is a compelling exploration of evolution, extinction and the ever-present nature of Darwin’s “struggle for life.” Biologist Schuyler Baines (Cynthia Watros of Lost) arrives full of ideas and the best intentions, in the Galapagos Islands to run the Darwin Research Center. When she becomes aware of an exploding black market in sea cucumbers that threatens to destroy the islands’ fragile ecosystem, Schuyler shuts the industry down, sparking a deadly, survival-of-the-fittest conflict with native fishermen.
In the 1990s, the indigenous fisherman (pepineros) of the Galapagos Islands were pitted against environmentalists over the issue of harvesting sea cucumbers, both the primary source of income for the pepineros and an essential part of the food chain for sea tortoises. The fisherman subsequently revolted and slaughtered the endangered tortoises in protest. Even now, the conflict continues with the fisherman in search of shark fins and sea cucumbers for Asian markets, unmindful of conservation efforts. Hollinger wrote Tooth and Claw after hearing an NPR broadcast in 1995 about the Galapagos uprising. He later traveled to the islands to interview the scientists, fisherman and politicians involved in the conflict. His research served as the basis for a story that looks not just at the survival of the fittest—whether human, animal or flora—but at the less obvious clash between science and conservation.
“ ’Tooth and Claw’ may be a play about tortoises, but it sweeps along at a bracing pace more often seen in hares, bringing the momentum of a thriller to the sometimes dry arena of science plays,” wrote The New York Times.
Tooth and Claw is part of “Relativity,” a series of science-themed plays recorded by L.A. Theatre Works with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
All performances will be recorded to air on L.A. Theatre Works' syndicated radio theater series, which broadcasts weekly on public radio stations nationwide and can be streamed on demand at www.latw.org. Tooth and Claw is part of “Relativity,” a series of science-themed plays recorded by L.A. Theatre Works with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. July 19-22; James Bridges Theater at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, 235 Charles E. Young Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90095; $15-$49; 310.827.0889; www.latw.org; Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LATheatreWorks; follow us on Twitter @latheatreworks