Urbanite Opens With "Dry Land"

Theater

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY JUN 24, 2016

Urbanite Theatre commences its 2016–17 season tonight with the opening of the comedic drama Dry Land. Written by Ruby Rae Spiegel and directed by Urbanite Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director Summer Dawn Wallace, the play takes place in the locker room of a Florida high school, where two girls, Amy and Ester, strike an unlikely bond through their common experience on the brink of womanhood. Starring Ellie McCaw (returning to the Urbanite after last season’s Freak), Jordan Boyer and Olivia Siegal, Dry Land opens tonight at 8pm and runs until Jul. 24.

“What drew me to this play was the complicated relationship between these two girls,” says Wallace. “The stuff that women have to deal with starts at a very young age.” Meeting within the vulnerable confines of the locker room, Amy a budding athlete and Ester looking for hope, conversations both frank and guarded give light to the doubts and struggles that connect them both through adolescence in the modern world. “The play shows the challenges that young women face growing up—the challenges and the triumphs,” says Wallace. “All of that’s put into one beautifully complicated and challenging, but very funny play as well.”

Female sexuality, eating disorders, suicide, reproductive rights and social expectation all enter the discussion as Amy and Ester wrestle with their bodies and the world that seems to be changing around them, but the play still has its hilarious moments, largely driven by the young protagonists’ unflinching but less-than-worldly assessment of their situation. And while Wallace admits some of the dialogue may make the men in the audience “squirm” a bit, Dry Land is “not a ‘female play,’” she says, and all can find something or someone to relate to through the play’s 95-minute run time.

The play is not an argument and audiences won’t leave with their minds changed on the charged political topics of the day, “but that’s not the intent,” says Wallace. “The play shines a light on what’s happening with young women, both positive and negative, and this is the reality of our younger generation. You leave with a better understanding of what our younger folks are going through.”

As for her own young charges, the actors onstage and under her direction“young peanuts” as she affectionately dubs them—three are recent Booker High School grads themselves (Boyer just graduated from the Visual and Performing Arts program this year), Wallace sees strength. “Part of what’s lovely about working with younger actors is they just do it,” she says. “They’re fearless.”

Pictured: Jordan Boyer and Ellie McCaw as Ester and Amy in "Dry Land." Photo by Ryan Finzelber.

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