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Finding ‘Dry Land’ with Alana Dietze & Block Party

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(L-R) Teagan Rose and Connor Kelly-Eiding in The Echo Theater Company production of “Dry Land” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Dry Land is such a beautiful play. And what I think it does really well is that it captures—in this subtle, insightful way—the pain and vulnerability of being a young woman in America, said Alana Dietze of the work she is directing at the Kirk Douglas Theatre as part of our inaugural Block Party, onstage through May 21, 2017.

Playwright Ruby Rae Spiegel (now a writer on the hit Netflix original show The OA) was still in college when she read a 2012 article in The New Republic titled The Rise of DIY Abortions. She was so affected by it that she decided to write Dry Land. I think she was so close to that experience that she really had a unique, insightful look into these girls’ lives. Every time I read the play, I pick up on something else that’s so truthful to that experience, said Dietze.

The Echo Theater company production of Dry Land received rave reviews during its initial run last year. It even won the 2016 Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play (Intimate Theatre). But if the prospect of re-mounting her production for Block Party intimidates Dietze, she doesn’t show it. This is such a unique opportunity to get to revisit something that I loved so much the first time around, said Dietze.

It’s also a chance, she added, to maybe ask a question that we never asked before. The national landscape concerning women’s health has shifted considerably in recent months. A 2016 New York Times article explored the issue of DIY pregnancy terminations by tracking relevant Google search queries and mapping them with regard to states that have limited public access to organizations like Planned Parenthood. Their conclusion: Demand [for DIY pregnancy termination] is concentrated in areas where it is most difficult to get an abortion, and it has closely tracked the recent state-level crackdowns on abortion.

It should be said that, while abortion may be its subject, Dry Land is not a play that’s interested in proselytizing. It is—in the end—a play about two teenage girls in a difficult situation with no one to rely on but each other. When he reviewed the play in 2014, Ben Brantley came away with this conclusion: The most extraordinary occurrences take place amid ordinary settings with ordinary people, who behave as usual, only more so. This is a fact of human life that usually takes a while to register as we grow up. Ms. Spiegel has evidently grasped it, quite firmly, early on.

Dietze is excited to get the chance to share this powerful story with Los Angeles one more time thanks to Block Party. I’m so grateful that this institution is recognizing the value of small Los Angeles theatre, she said. And I’m so excited that so many more people get to see our work because of this program..

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