In 2019, Jenna Watt took part in the stalking of a hind on the vast Highland estate of Corrour: part of an immersive attempt to understand the ideas that lie behind 'rewilding', and what it means emotionally and physically to participate in Scotland's deer cull. Piece by piece and chapter by chapter she unravels the story of that one day spent hunting the hind, interlaced with her discovery that her ancestors were deer stalkers, gamekeepers and ghillies on a Highland estate, who once took part in increasingly controversial land practices like muirburn and species persecution.
This exploration leads her into the complex and often conflict-ridden world of the rewilding movement. She meets the 'Wolf Man' of the Highlands, who wants to introduce the first wild wolves back into Scotland for over 300 years; a mountain ecologist who ranges alone across the landscape to track the environmental impact of deer on Scotland's upland ecosystem; landowners who are reintroducing species like beaver, ospreys and sea-eagles onto their estates; and a female deer stalker, who is trying to introduce more women into the male-dominated world of stalking and game-keeping.
In the process, Jenna comes to better understand the meaning of 'wildness', the shifting baselines of 'rewilding', and, in a world beset by climate change and species extinction, how to cope, both as an individual and as a society, with the concept of ecological grief.
Jenna Watt is a multi-award-winning theatre maker. In 2016, her award-winning Edinburgh Fringe play Faslane was published by Oberon books, now Methuen Drama, which led to her presenting Nukes, Subs and Secrets, a piece of factual television with Hopscotch productions for BBC Scotland. In 2017, she undertook an MSc in Sustainable Rural Development with the University of Highlands and Islands. Since graduating, she became the recipient of Magnetic North Theatre’s Artist Attachment for 18 months, where she continued to develop her understanding of performative approaches to ecofeminism, rewilding and land management practices in Scotland.