The Kennedy Center


Digging Up Dessa

Saturday, February 3, 2018 - Sunday, February 18, 2018

Performances For Young Audiences

From dinosaur bones to hidden memories, the world is filled with buried treasures just waiting to be uncovered. One 21st-century girl sets out to dig up some super-sized discoveries with help from a remarkable friend—the pioneering English paleontologist Mary Anning. Age 10+

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Digging Up Dessa
A world premiere Kennedy Center commission, part of the Women’s Voices Theatre Festival
Written by Laura Schellhardt
Directed by Rives Collins

Dessa is a 21st-century girl with no shortage of struggles, secrets, and mysteries to solve. From dinosaur bones to hidden memories, the world is filled with buried treasures just waiting to be uncovered. Luckily, thanks to the mysterious appearance of a remarkable friend—the pioneering 19th-century English paleontologist Mary Anning—young Dessa knows just how to excavate them!

After a field trip to a museum reveals that Mary Anning’s legacy has been buried by history because of her gender and lack of formal education, Dessa decides that she’s going to fight to earn her friend the credit she deserves. With help from her once-rival, Nilo, Dessa sets to work unearthing the secrets hidden beneath the surface of the past and present—for Mary’s history and her own future.

Prepare for the show with our Digging Up Dessa Grownup Guide! View and download here.

Most enjoyed by age 10 and up. This performance explores sensitive themes that may be difficult or challenging for audience members younger than 10 years old. 

All patrons, regardless of age, must have a ticket.

Feb. 11 at 1:30 p.m. is a sensory-friendly performance.
Sensory-friendly performances are designed to create a performing arts experience that is welcoming to all families, including those with children with autism or other sensory sensitivities. If you order these performances and do not require these Accessibility accommodations, your family is still very much welcome to attend.

Stay after the 1:30 p.m. performance on Feb. 10 for a free talk back with a REAL paleontologist!
After the 1:30pm performance, Dr. Kay Behrensmeyer, the Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology in the Department of Paleobiology at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, will bring fossils and specimens from the Museum of Natural History for audience members to explore.

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Watch and Listen

Digging Up Dessa: Meet Director Rives Collins

Digging Up Dessa: Meet Dramaturg Grace Overbeke

Digging Up Dessa: Meet Playwright Laura Schelhardt