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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Dry Land makes a splash

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-c36cefcd-871f-9c5b-e866-29f21ed9d7af">This weekend, the Experimental Theater Board presents Dry Land, directed by Sarah Meister ‘16, starring Mairead Koehler ‘17, Sasha Blinnikova ‘17, Lexi Norvet ‘16, and Christian Kreznar ´16. Dry Land tells the tale of two high school swimmers and their experiences with friendship, school, sexuality, and abortion, as seen in their pool locker room.

The team renders the show beautifully. While I could detail the attention paid to props, the set, and costumes, I think it’s sufficient to say that the production will keep you interested, whether you’re a Little Nourse regular or you have yet to watch theater at Carleton. Koehler, Blinnikova, and Norvet play characters you probably passed everyday in the hallway in high school.

The cast hopes to use their art to spark conversations about abortion, among difficult subjects. Meister finds that while abortion is often discussed as a political issue, it remains extremely stigmatized. As such, the cast has worked closely with the GSC to facilitate talkback discussions with the audience after Friday and Saturdayś performances. These talkbacks are meant to give audience members a chance to continue the conversation after the curtain falls.

Given the play’s graphic and triggering content, Meister has provided general warnings on the Facebook event and in the program and is happy to give specific details to anyone who requests it, whether in person or by email.

“Young artists tend to shy away from things that scare them,” Meister said. “I wanted to direct something that dealt with important themes.”

While Dry Land doesn’t explicitly address the politics about abortion, its rendering of abortion as a quotidian facet of life, as opposed to the eradicable evil pro-lifers make it out to be, constitutes its political value.

This everydayness might remind some of the neo-realist plays popular in the Carleton theater community, from Annie Baker to David Mamet. Meister recognizes that Dry Land is, like many other ETB shows, a “snapshot of an intimate space.” However, she noted that Dry Land stands out for focusing on young women and their sexualities. The main characters of Dry Land, all women, deal with issues on their own, rather than negotiating them through male characters, as is too often seen on stage.

Playwright Ruby Rae Spiegel graduated from Yale in 2015. As a millennial, the playwright is keyed in and onpoint, bringing a new facet of the real to realism. Dry Land will, like real life, shift between moments of depression and self harm to goofy, playtime antics. Characters will awe you with lyrical strength at one turn, and let you down with some prejudice at the next.

A living and breathing show, Dry Land isn’t just a night at the theater. Dry Land is a present vehicle for an always present series of topics; adolescence, sexuality, and abortion. I strongly recommend seeing it this weekend.

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