Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Rothschild for Today

The current issue of The New Yorker has an article entitled "Message in a Bottle" about 30-year-old David de Rothschild, 21st Century descendant of Mayer, who this summer will begin a voyage from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia, in a boat made entirely out of plastic bottles and other recycled materials. Along the way he will visit the "Eastern Garbage Patch," a piece of the ocean that epitomizes the threat plastics pose to birds, turtle, and fish. De Rothschild's "eco-trip" will transmit photos and video clips to his Adventure Ecology website. Both the trip and the vessel--named the "Plastiki"--are inspired by Thor Heyerdahl's voyage in the Kon Tiki 62 years ago.

David is the son of the manager of the British branch of the banking empire, which could indicate he's one of Nathan's ancestors; on the other hand, the "de" in his name would indicate he came from the French branch of the family.

Younger members of our cast (and their parents) may identify with the article's depiction of David as a child. He is described by both his parents as a classically hyperactive kid, constantly getting into trouble and jumping out of windows. But when taken to a psychiatrist for an evaluation, he sat quietly and listened patiently for the entire session. Then, back in the elevator as they left the office, he immediately punched all the buttons on the elevator panel to show his parents who was in charge. His brother Andrew describes their shared childhood as having been shaped by David's restlessness and disregard for danger: "I was constantly saying, 'No, don't do that, don't do that!" Risk-taking remains in the blood, two hundred years after the events of our play.


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