Digging Up Dessa

Laura Schellhardt

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About the Play

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.

Most enjoyed by age 10 and up. 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. 3 for a free Kids’ Chat!
Following the performance, young audience members can ask questions.

If you’re interested in a list of accessible performances, you can find a calendar here.


Laura Schellhardt (Playwright)

Laura Schellhardt is a Chicago-based writer whose original works include Ever in the Glades, The Comparables, The Chair, The K of D, and Shapeshifter. She is a recipient of the TCG National Playwriting Residency, the Jerome Fellowship, ACT’s New Play Award, The AATE Distinguished Play Award, and a Dramatist Guild Playwriting Fellowship.

Rives Collins (Director)

Rives Collins is a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University. A specialist in the areas of Storytelling, Theatre for Young Audiences, and Drama in Education, he is the recipient of the Clarence Simon Award for Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring and the Galbut Outstanding Faculty Award.


The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

2700 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20566

(202) 467-4600