Weekender: 3Ps delves into the harsh realities of teenage life in “Dry Land”


Content Disclaimer: This article deals with abortion and trauma, and mentions sexual harassment.

For Amy high school swimmers and Ester, the poolside is anything but dry land. This weekend, the student theater group Pen, Paint and Bretzels (3Ps) will carry out its realization of Ruby Rae Spiegel’s award-winning one-act play “Dry Land” (2015) in Curtis Room. 3P boldly takes on the challenge of confronting a multitude of often trivialized (and potentially reminiscent) tropes of adolescent life including access to abortion, female sexuality and the volatility of relationships – almost all from the benches of the girls’ locker rooms.

Member of the Amy swim team, played by Margaret Senior Parish, has been overwhelmed with unwanted pregnancy and enlists her lonely teammate Ester,played by the first year Schuyler Bartlett, to help her induce an abortion. Through the the girls’ attempts to end Amy’s pregnancy and through moments of intimacy and vulnerability between the two, the public begins to recognize Ester and Amy’s relationship like the one that is rooted in trust and support, which are themes Director Caitlin Morley sees as essential to “Dry Land”.

“For me, [“Dry Land”] is to be known to the point of being helped, ”said Morley, a senior. “It’s about trusting someone enough to let them know who you really are …” [Amy] features a well-designed facade and doesn’t let people know who she really is and the things she really thinks and feels until she meets Ester.

Morley expressed interest in examining queer woman’s gaze in plays (citing a lesbian reimagining of “Romeo and Juliet” that she directed in 2019) and see the characters of Amy and Ester as young women who, perhaps unknowingly, begin to explore their sexuality.

“They are the most important people the other has met,” Morley said. “For me, Amy and Esther sum up the early queer crushes which I think are very common for queer women, at least in my experience and that of other queer people I know.”

While Amy is going through an extremely turbulent time in her life and has to lean on Ester through the uncertainty, Ester has his concerns about university recruiting and its future. Sid Samel, first year, who play the role of Victor, the son of a friend of Ester’s mother and a college student who seeks Ester for swimming, sees his character as a “locker” for Ester when he accommodates her in his dorm before she swims for the coach of his university.

“In the script, Ester doesn’t really have a lot of time to be herself,” Samel said. “It’s quite a job helping Amy and trying to be there for her. But with Victor … he’s someone who [Ester] sees it once and never again. She can get all that baggage off her chest with him.

Katelyn Young, who plays the character of Reba, Amy’s friend and a source of comedic relief in the series, shared that she sees a great reality in the themes and characters of “Dry country.

“Even the smallest characters have such a nuanced development [and] are so human in their essence ”, Young, a junior, noted. “Something I felt when we read the script was that I could see myself in all of the characters, no matter how much on paper I had in common with them.”

With this reality come moments of intense intimacy between several characters in the series, which culminate in a heartbreaking and relentless scene where Ester comforts Amy as she has an abortion on stage.

“The scene is tough and it’s honest and it’s brutal, but at the same time, [it is a] beautiful moment of care between the two girls, ”said Morley.

As it is written by Spiegel in a note in the script, “The hardness is as true to this piece as the softness.” Morley and the actors and the team of “Dry country” will certainly work to grasp that direction, approaching both the harshness and smoothness of the piece with the vulnerability and attention required for a successful performance.

“The softness of the room, the tenderness of the room, is an effect of that harshness,” said Morley. “There are harsh truths and realities in the play… the most obvious is the fact that Amy is pregnant and doesn’t want to be. The realities of this situation demand a tenderness and gentleness on Ester’s part.

Morley, who is writing a thesis at the theater trauma education department, takes the emotional and physical protection of its actors very seriously and recognizes that these moments of intense intimacy have the potential to have an emotional impact on the actors.

“Some directors are like, ‘Harness your emotions, wake up your own trauma and stage it,’” she said. “That’s not what I’m looking for.”

For this manufacture of “Dry Land”, 3Ps hired an intimacy choreographer who facilitates the creation of consensual and reproducible choreographies between the actors, and aims to prevent unnecessary discomfort and sexual harassment. The choreographer of intimacy for this show, Margaret Clark has held this position for a number of shows in New England.

“[Clark is] fantastic, ”said Morley. “She came … to help me stage these moments of intense intimacy … and really make sure those physical movements are specific – no surprises.”

“Dry country” is both technically and thematically difficult; However, Morley and the rest of 3P were up to the challenge. The organization has undergone major changes in recent months, which have, according to 3P ‘ current direction, enabled board members to support their artists more directly. Abi Steinberg, the current president of 3Ps, explained that the group has shifted from an “umbrella organization” that encompassed all student theater groups to one that focused solely on the creation of plays.

“We wanted to become a group of theater creators instead of an umbrella group so that we could actually invest in our artists instead of stretching the six board members so thin they had to do it all. for every theater club, ”Steinberg, a senior, mentioned. “We can engage with our artists and support them… and make sure they feel supported. ”

3P ‘ production of “Dry country” will be executed in Curtis Hall on December 10, 11 and 12. Tickets can be booked through Tuft Tickets.

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