“Anatomy of Gray,” Not “Grey’s Anatomy”

A behind the scenes chat with Drama Director Dana Caldwell on the upcoming winter play, “Anatomy of Gray.”

Dare Fitzpatrick

What is the plot of “Anatomy of Gray”?

  A coming-of-age story set in 1800s rural Indiana with our young protagonist 15-year-old June who has just lost her father.

[She’s] wrestling with grief and growing up in a small town and bursting at the seams. So it’s really just her story and the life of the people around her.

Dealing with death, she prays that some healer will come to town, so that no one else has to die.

Right after she writes this letter to God asking to send someone, a doctor blows in on a tornado in a hot air balloon and lands in their town.

They are in this town that has never encountered a doctor or medicine so there are these themes of religion, medicine, family, loss and over the course of the play the plague then breaks out.

We see this town dealing with [the lack of modern medicine] and reacting to that.

There are moments of levity and quirkiness and great characters but it is a heavy story that’s dealing with loss and dealing with big life questions.

Which aspects of the play led you to choose it for our Winter show?

  I think those very things. It’s really diving deep into some big life questions and that is so relevant to the human experience and story especially for high school students.

These students in particular in play production were really ready to delve into these hard, difficult, real-life issues and situations — because it’s not easy material.

They are really tackling this in a way that is respectful, in a way that is so mature and really beyond all of their years.

Have you ever performed this show, seen it, or directed it in past years?

  I have not. This is a first for me! This is a not widely known play. The playwrights did write a very famous play called “The Diviners,” but this is a lesser-known one that I’ve never done before, I’ve never been in before, so it’s a new adventure for me.

Do you have a favorite scene?

  We are in the early days of blocking and rehearsing, so time will tell. But right now there’s a very entertaining scene with Simon [Lea] and Caetano [Perez- Marchant] that’s involving some gymnastic feats —  so without any spoiler alerts, be on the lookout for some attempt at headstands and what not!

Do you have a favorite character or a character you most relate to?

  There is a character in the play that is pregnant, so currently being pregnant, that is feeling very relatable just with becoming a mother.

Certainly all these great, quirky, funny characters throughout the play  — some of them are spunky, like June — being a 15-year-old and making terrible decisions to great decisions who’s just trying to figure out who she is.

Also having lost a grandmother who was very much a parent to me, I can definitely resonate with losing someone who’s extremely important to me and my life. There’s so much in here that is art reflecting life  — that people will come and connect with.

Have your students interpreted the message of the play in a way that you have never noticed before?

We start every rehearsal process by doing an initial read-through and then we do table work — so we all have our scripts and we sit together and we read through it line by line and we really dive deep into what everything means and our perceptions of it and our questions.

Part of our work is really getting on the same page early on or exploring our different ideas together.

Certainly, as individuals different things resonate with different people. As an actor and character you have to have your own perspective.

But, as an ensemble, we explore these ideas together so that everybody understands what is going on.

This allows us to have a unified vision and the same ideas going into it because we, as an ensemble, are telling this story and what we believe is important to communicate to our audience.

Then the audience will take away from it what they will.

Finally, what are the dates when we can come and see it? December 12, 13, and 14, at 7 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium.

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