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Echo Theater Company explores female friendship with
West Coast premiere of ‘Dry Land’ by Ruby Rae Spiegel
LOS ANGELES (March 8, 2016) — Ester is a swimmer trying to stay afloat. Amy is curled up on the locker room floor. The Echo Theater Company presents the West Coast premiere of Dry Land, the riveting play by newcomer Ruby Rae Spiegel that has critics and audiences across the U.S. abuzz. Alana Dietze (A Small Fire) directs Daniel Hagen, Ben Horwitz, Connor Kelly–Eiding, Teagan Rose and Jenny Soo for an April 9 opening at the Echo’s home base, Atwater Village Theatre.
Set in the locker room of a central Florida high school, Dry Land is a haunting new play about female friendship and abortion. Written when Spiegel was just 21 years old and still an undergraduate at Yale, it’s a deeply truthful portrait of the fears, hopes and bonds of teenage girls — as gut-wrenching as it is funny. In his New York Times “critic’s pick” review, Ben Brantley calls Dry Land “tender, caustic, funny and harrowing, often all at the same time.”
According to the playwright, the title of the play is “about safety, trying to find that safe place to swim ashore.” The initial inspiration for the play came from a 2012 article in New Republic called The Rise of DIY Abortions.
“I was really shocked,” Spiegel said in an interview. “This article looked at how American abortion rights are being rolled back: clinics are disappearing and young women across America have to resort to these self abortion means.”
But it was a brief pregnancy scare that led to the more emotional core of the play – “That feeling of intense aloneness in your own body—that you are the only one that can do anything about this – and it is just in you. That stuck with me.”
Dietze, who also serves as the Echo Theater Company’s literary manager, was immediately taken when she read the script.
“I knew it was right for the Echo, and that I wanted to direct,” she says. “This play is raw, visceral and confronts really big issues — issues that will probably make some people very uncomfortable — but in the end, it’s just about these girls and their friendship. Ruby’s voice is so true to what it is to be a teenager, especially a teenage girl, in a world that can be very dangerous and hostile to young women.”
Dry Land was developed at New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Summer Theater Session as well as the Ojai Playwrights Conference. It premiered at New York’s HERE Arts Center in a production by Colt Coeur. It was a 2014-15 finalist for the Susan Blackburn Prize; included on the first annual Kilroy’s List as one of the most recommended new plays by female and trans authors in 2014; reprinted in the December, 2015 issue of American Theatre magazine; and is published by Dramatist’s Play Service.
Scenic design for DRY LAND is by Amanda Knehans; lighting design is by Justin Huen; sound design is by Jeff Gardner; costume design and special effects are by Elena Flores; graphic design is by Elizabeth Hale; production photography is by Darrett Sanders; and the production stage manager is Anna Engelsman. Nadia Marina Thomas is associate producer, and Chris Fields and Alexandra Freeman produce for The Echo Theater Company.
Alana Dietze made her directorial debut almost exactly a year ago with the Echo’s critically-acclaimed production of A Small Fire by Adam Bock. The production received four Ovation nominations, one LADCC nomination and appeared on numerous Best of 2015 lists. Her onstage work with the Echo is up to a tally of seven productions including Fugue, Bob, God’s Ear, and Everything Will Be Different (three Ovation Nominations including Best Leading Actress). Other favorite stage appearances include Possum Carcass, What May Fall, Have You Seen Alice? and more with Theatre of NOTE, Lascivious Something with Circle X, Villlon and The Hive Project with Padua Playwrights and many more. She has served as the Echo’s literary manager since 2008.
Dedicated to producing new work, the multiple award-winning Echo Theater Company was anointed “Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays” by the LA Weekly in its 2014 Best of L.A. issue and was a recent recipient of the “Kilroy Cake Drop”– one of only 13 theaters in the country to be surprised by cakes to honor the efforts they are making to produce women and trans writers. Under the leadership of founding artistic director Chris Fields, the Echo has introduced Los Angeles to playwrights such as David Lindsay-Abaire, Adam Rapp, Sarah Ruhl, Tommy Smith and Miki Johnson among many others. The company is also recognized for its acting ensemble; in the Los Angeles Times, theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, “Echo Theater Company, which has cultivated a community of top flight actors, would be my go-to place in Los Angeles for symbiotic ensemble acting.” Following a two-decade itinerant existence, the Echo moved to Atwater Village Theatre in 2014 — its first permanent home.
DRY LAND runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., April 9 through May 15. There will be three preview performances, on Wednesday, April 6, Thursday, April 7 and Fri., April 8, each at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25, except previews which are pay-what-you-can. Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
Dry Land — Ester is a swimmer trying to stay afloat. Amy is curled up on the locker room floor. The West Coast premiere of Ruby Rae Spiegel’s play, a finalist for the Susan Blackburn Prize, about female friendship, abortion and resiliency, and what happens in one high school locker room after everybody’s left.
• Written by Ruby Rae Spiegel
• Directed by Alana Dietze
• Starring Daniel Hagen, Ben Horwitz, Connor Kelly-Eiding, Teagan Rose, Jenny Soo
• Presented by The Echo Theater Company
Previews: April 6, April 7 and April 8
Performances: April 9 – May 15
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: April 6 ONLY (preview)
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: April 7 ONLY (preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: April 8 (preview), 15, 22, 29; May 6, 13
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: April 9 (opening night), 16, 23, 30; May 7, 14
• Sundays at 4 p.m.: April 10, 17, 24; May 1, 8, 15
• Sundays at 7 p.m.: April 10, 17, 24; May 1, 8, 15
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(FREE parking in the Atwater Xing lot one block south of the theater.)
• Call 310-307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com
• Visit us on facebook: www.facebook.com/echotheater
• Follow us on twitter: @echotheater
General admission: $25