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British play adapted for Grinnell’s stage

This weekend, Grinnell students will stage the US premiere of “The Contingency Plan,” a modern environmentalist drama. The production first debuted at the Bush Theatre in London in 2009 as two separate but related shows. A combined version of the two was then written for BBC Radio.

Steve Waters
Playwright Steve Waters discusses staging directions with the cast of The Contingency Plan during rehearsal in Flanagan Theatre in preparation for Thursday's opening performance - Ben Brewer

Director Lesley Delmenico, Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance, has adapted the show for the stage.
“The trick for us has been going from radio play … to actually physically putting this on stage. We’ve used a lot of projections to create locations,” Delmenico said. “We do scenes that are split just by means of light changes.”

The first story is that of a young glaciologist, Will, and his parents, who live on the coast of England and are in danger of potentially rising water levels. The play intertwines Will’s relationship with his parents and his attempts to convince the government that the glaciers are melting faster than they knew.

“It’s a play about a worst-case scenario—what if the worst thing that could happen, does happen? And what if we’re not ready for it?” Delmenico said.

The show combines these environmental issues with elements of family drama, suspense and occasionally farce.
The playwright of “The Contingency Plan,” Steve Waters, was recently on campus in a program sponsored by the Center for International Studies. In his time here, he taught a short course on playwriting, as well as helping with the development of the show.

“It’s a real gift to have the playwright around when you’re working on the first edition of a play,” Delmenico said. “It was a pretty ideal situation.”

“The Contingency Plan” will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Performances will be held in Flanagan Theater, and tickets are available now at the Box Office.


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