March 1, 2021–Innovation Pathway members Emma Cavage (CFA’22) and Sydney Meyer (CFA’22) are on a mission to produce a play that makes “you laugh, cry, get angry, and question.” Soon, after months of masked rehearsals, Zoom meetings, and planning for a hybrid show, the team will debut their production of Dry Land on March 19, 2021.
The idea for the show came after the College of Fine Arts juniors discussed putting on a play that spoke to important issues happening in the world around them–in particular, a lack of access to reproductive care and overall healthcare. After Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020, they said “it showed us how vulnerable safe reproductive healthcare is in the US. We thought that this play in particular did a really great job of showing what happens when people do not have accessible reproductive care–whether you believe that care is through access to abortions, birth control, or sexual education.”
Dry Land, set in Florida, is “a coming of age story about female adolescence, abortion, and swimming. It follows two high school girls–one is pregnant and recruits the new girl on her swim team to help her figure out how to end her pregnancy since she is not old enough to receive an abortion without parental consent,” said Meyer. It was written by Ruby Rae Spiegel, who also wrote television shows Mindhunter, The OA, and A Teacher.
In addition to the play’s subject matter, the duo also chose Dry Land because of its small cast of only four actors–a component that would work well during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with a small cast, though, there were still plenty of safety and logistic obstacles to overcome. Over the last few months, Meyers said that the actors and production team “have been masked up in all of our rehearsals, which has been an adjustment for our actors, but they’ve done an amazing job of making it work. Like everyone else in the world, we’ve been meeting up virtually as much as possible, meaning we’ve all been spending a ton of time on our computers, but we’re really just excited to be getting to do an in-person show at all right now.”
The core team includes Cavage as the director, stage manager Eva Bernada, assistant stage manager Kate Atkinson, assistant director and dramaturg Gabriella Medina-Toledo, and Meyer acting alongside Fady Damien, Abbey Scobee and AJ Walker. Additional support is being provided by Danielle DeLaFuente, Jennie Gorn, and Grace Saathoff.
Despite the complications of producing an in-person show during the pandemic, there are some positives. “One major benefit is that, in theory, we can have a bigger audience than we probably could’ve had if we didn’t have to do the show both virtually and in-person. Even if we can only have a small audience in person, the show will be accessible to stream to anyone, anywhere,” said Meyer.
The hybrid performance also lends itself to talkbacks, a conversation at the end of each performance between the audience and creative team to discuss and process topics brought up in the show.
Since first discussing the idea last year, the team has tapped into a variety of Boston University resources. In the fall, they received a Social Impact Seed Grant from the College of Fine Arts and Innovate@BU which helped kickoff the project. CFA has also provided space for rehearsal and the performance.
“Now, we have expanded to also working with Innovate@BU’s BUild Lab as an Innovation Pathway team which has taught us a lot about how to best market this play and how to expand our audience base,” said Meyer. “We have also partnered with BU Students for Reproductive Freedom and are currently planning the details of our collaboration.”
Dry Land will run on March 19, 20, and 21. Details about in-person and virtual tickets will be shared on the team’s Instagram account @DryLand_Play.
Cavage and Meyer want the show to serve as a source of education, growth, and conversation for viewers. At the performances, they will provide the audience with resources about local and national reproductive care organizations, but ultimately hope that the show inspires people to do more research and to take action.
“This story is about much more than just abortion, which is what makes it so unique and special. Just like life, this play is both dark and funny, risky and innocent,” said Meyer. “It’s truly been a labor of love, and we’re so excited to share it with people.”