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Anatomical Hearts Poster

If you are a prospective student who is looking to be involved with theater at Dartmouth, I can assure you that there are a plethora of projects and productions to join every term. And in the spring term, senior theses are often in the works – and that extends to theater major seniors as well.

This past spring term I was honored to perform in the senior playwriting thesis of my friend, Lila Hovey '23. Their thesis project took form as a workshop production of their original play Anatomical Hearts. On the official Hopkins Center for the Arts website, the play is described as "A queer historical dramedy about love, purpose and medicine." The full summary is as follows:

"All Elijah Campbell wants is to make it through his last year at Harvard Medical School without attracting scrutiny—as a trans-masculine person in 1850, the safety of solitude is the best he can hope for. But his quiet loneliness collapses when his life collides with that of the Sharpe siblings. Lucie Sharpe thought her dreams were coming true when she was granted permission to attend lectures at Harvard Medical School, but when the opportunity is snatched away, she'll do anything to get it back. Daniel Sharpe has had his heart crushed and his confidence shattered, but a chance encounter and a rediscovery of his love of art may be enough to let him feel comfortable in his own skin.

They both need Elijah, but will letting people in provide the support and intimacy he's always craved? Or will it prove to him all over again that trust always precedes destruction?"

This summary can be found in its original format at this link.

In addition to the summary above, this article posted on the Dartmouth Faculty of Arts and Sciences page delves into what history inspired the play and includes comments from the playwright about what the play means to them. 

And finally, through this blog post, I get to tell you about my experience!  

A Scene From Anatomical Hearts
A Scene From Anatomical Hearts

Both senior theses in the theater department this year were performed as what's called a 'workshop production,' as opposed to a full fledged production. This meant the actors were "on book," or had the script in their hand as they performed. The performances still had acting and blocking, costumes, limited (yet effective) set dressing and props, and other minor technical elements like sound design and lighting. 

Because Anatomical Hearts wasn't a full production, we just had a brief 3 week rehearsal period. Another interesting thing about the production was that it didn't take place on a stage, but instead in a lecture hall in Steele, the chemistry building. Thematically, this worked very well, because a lot of the play takes place in a Harvard Medical School classroom.

The cast was small, and consisted of both friends who I had already acted with, friends I already knew but hadn't acted with, and new folks that I became fast friends with! Even in the short amount of time, we became a close group! 

Finally: In the show, I played Elijah Campbell, one of the main characters. It meant a lot to me, a transmasculine person, to play a transmasculine character written by a transmasculine playwright. To have his story take center stage and for him to be able to find his way to love and acceptance on his own terms – it was exactly the kind of story I needed to hear that term, and I was honored to bring it to life on the stage. It fulfilled me in a way that no other theater experience has, and I hope queer playwrights continue to write and create works like these so that we can continue to see art that represents us well, and gives us the happy endings that we should be allowed.

Overall, being a part of this production is something I'm very thankful for. I'm thankful that the Dartmouth theater department supports student created pieces. I'm thankful to be at Dartmouth and, lastly, I'm grateful to share these experiences with you all through this blog. Thank you so much for reading through to the end of this post, and I hope it's helped you understand a little more about the experience of a queer theater student at Dartmouth. 

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