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Undergrad playwright makes a splash with ‘Dry Land’

Ruby Rae Spiegel ’15 had her first full-length play produced last March by the Yale Dramat. Six months later, that show, Dry Land, is on stage in New York City—and the Yale senior is winning rave reviews in the New York Times and the New York Post.

The play, about a high school girl who enlists a swim teammate to help her induce an abortion in the locker room, is “tender, caustic, funny and harrowing, often all at the same time,” says the Times.

The reviewer notes, “It is not—repeat not—an Abortion Play in capital letters, in the solemn, soapy manner of many a made-for-TV movie.”

Though Spiegel is only 21, “Dry Land feels like the first step in an inevitable rise,” the Post says, adding that the play “casts a strange spell and sticks with you.”

That spell must have been apparent during the Yale production, when “a man in the front row spent an entire performance rubbing the belly of his pregnant girlfriend,” the Times reported in a preview last month. “Another young man told Ms. Spiegel the play inspired him to call his mother to ask about the abortion she had in college.”

In an interview, Spiegel calls the play’s graphic depiction of the girl’s abortion a “radical form of empathy for that surprisingly common, yet often silence experience.”

In fact, she tells the Times, “In my time at Yale, there’s a lot of kind of taking away the silence around sexual assault,” Ms. Spiegel said. “There’s also a kind of silence around abortion.”


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Ruby Rae Spiegel, Theater
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