show art for An Acorn. Resembling a snowglobe, an acorn contains a cityscape swirling in fog

Production of Caridad Svich’s “An Acorn” Caps GU Theater & Performance Studies Program Major’s Interdisciplinary Georgetown Thesis

Part of “Dreams of Crossing: Borders, Climates, Acts” home season at Davis Center, poetic performance collage addresses environmental crisis, offering hope in tumultuous times

Washington, DC—The Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program presents a senior thesis production of the haunting and poignant “An Acorn” written by 2012 OBIE recipient for Lifetime Achievement Caridad Svich, directed by Eliza Palter (C‘20), and advised by Prof. Maya E. Roth. Running Wednesday, Jan. 29 through Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020 (showtimes below) at the Davis Performing Arts Center’s Devine Studio Theatre, the long-form poetic collage offers a kernel of hope in the face of irreversible environmental damage and activates creative collaboration for a team of student artists of diverse majors.

In “An Acorn,” propelled by the threat of looming environmental catastrophe, one traveler leaves home in search of their voice, lost in the rubble of a battered world. This journey takes them through the wreckage of time and history in pursuit of the memory of what earth once was. The traveler is not alone – they are surrounded by others: desolate, angry, hopeful as they grapple with the grief of losing home. Imagining the end of the Anthropocene, “An Acorn” does not seek an explanation for its central crisis, but rather asks us to grapple with how we can expect to survive in the ruins of our commodified landscape.

This surprising and theatrical play has been called one of Svich’s “rawest pieces… Her scripts are poetry… This is the beauty I’ve needed all year,” playwright Ricardo Soltero-Brown said of “An Acorn.” Svich, who has consulted with the creative team and cast, has been praised in the Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) for the “dreamy sensibility” of her writing and the Salt Lake Tribune said, “Svich has an ingenious way of injecting moments of epiphany into the fabric of everyday life.” Commissioned by American Blues Theatre in 2017, the work was produced at Brown University/Trinity Rep in 2018. 

Director Palter, a double major in Theater & Performance Studies and Anthropology, says, “This play engages the grief many people have already begun to feel in the face of irreversible environmental damage. Crucially (and uniquely), it uncovers a small kernel of hope at its conclusion as its characters begin to understand their relationship with earth in a more complex way, one that hinges on the idea of collaborative survival.”

Advisor Prof. Maya E. Roth met with Palter weekly over the past semester to work on analysis, directorial guidance, creative collaboration, building the design team, and pragmatics. “One of the beauties of this project is that it invites interdisciplinary and creative collaborations, not only in the rehearsal room, but also for Eliza with the designers, mentored by faculty and staff,” Roth says. “Every student artist has had agency in helping to shape the performance, stewarded through Eliza’s vision, research, and process. At Eliza’s request, we’ve also added interdisciplinary and theatrical learning labs with not only Caridad and myself, but also faculty from Anthropology and TPST centering on student activism, environmental crisis, and physical theater—which we’ve shaped as a single-credit curricular enhancement for six students who wanted to deepen their learning with the project. So there are many layers of innovation here: on theatrical, activist, and pedagogical levels.”

Continuing the 2019-20 mainstage season’s theme, “Dreams of Crossing: Borders, Climates, Acts,” Roth programmed “An Acorn” to follow the November production of LubDub Theater Company’s “On the Lawn,” which also engaged with the issue of climate change, focusing on people’s own backyards.

Design team includes Scenic Designer Emma Cooney (C’22), Costume Designer Jess Frankovich (C‘20), Lighting Designer Andy Sedlack (C’20), Sound Designer Nick Giotis (C’23), and Props Designer Jesse Goodwin (C’20).

Cast includes Amelia Walsh (SFS’20), Matt Phillips (C’22), Jake Teall (C’22), Joseph Ravago (C’23), and Kate Oelkers (C’21). Olivia Martin (C’23) serves as stage manager, Daisy Steinthal (C’23) as assistant stage manager, and Anika Venkatesh (SFS’22) and Nick Giotis (C’23) as assistant directors.

Showtimes include the following:

Wednesday-Friday, January 29-31 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 1 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Tickets are $12 General, $10 Faculty/Staff, and $8 Student. Space-available GU student tickets for opening night on Jan. 29 are free (limit one), I.D. required at pickup. To order, visit or call 202-687-ARTS (2787). The Davis Performing Arts Center, Devine Studio Theatre is located on Georgetown University’s main campus at 37th and O Streets, NW, Washington, DC 20057.

Post-show talkbacks with director Palter and moderated by Prof. Roth will be held—on Jan. 30 with cast members/designers about the open script process and on Feb. 1 focused on the thesis project and how it interweaves Palter’s Theater & Performance Studies and anthropological studies, including environmental activism, art-making, and creative community. A pre-show discussion with a designer about sustainability and design will also be held on Jan. 31.

Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program

Housed in the Davis Performing Arts Center, the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program features a nationally recognized faculty of leading scholar/artists and professional practitioners who offer a dynamic interdisciplinary major that emphasizes the interaction of artistic and analytic inquiry. The Program has rapidly attracted significant national attention for its distinctive curriculum, which integrates the political and international character of Georgetown, a commitment to social justice, and high-quality, cutting-edge production seasons, including world premieres. In 2012, Backstage selected the Program as one of the top five college theater programs outside of New York City.

Davis Performing Arts Center

Opened in November 2005 as Georgetown University’s first building designed for the arts, the Davis Performing Arts Center is the research and teaching laboratory for the Theater & Performance Studies Program and houses the administrative office of the Department of Performing Arts. Since its 2005-06 inaugural season, the Davis Center has hosted a thematically linked home season of cutting-edge productions for the Theater and Performance Studies Program, featuring cutting-edge productions committed to diversity and artistic risk-taking. We have presented numerous new works and adaptations, DC premieres, bold re-imaginings of classics, important contemporary plays, and student-devised productions.

Our mainstage productions have engaged deep collaborations with nationally renowned artists (Sojourn Theatre, Heather Raffo, The Neo-Futurists), acclaimed local companies (Synetic Theater, Spooky Action Theater, a 13-year partnership with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater), local universities (Gallaudet University, University of Maryland), and on-campus programs such as the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics and frequent co-productions with GU’s student theater companies (including Black Theatre Ensemble, Mask and Bauble, and Nomadic Theatre).

The Davis Center is a hub for interdisciplinary exchange with the wider community, both locally and globally. In addition to mainstage TPST productions in the Gonda and Devine Theatres, the Davis Center hosts special residencies in theater, music, and dance, placing students from the entire Georgetown community in regular contact with leading professionals from the U.S. and beyond, as well as presenting work and hosting residencies with leading artists from around the world. Through our partnerships with local organizations, DC public schools, and numerous community partners, we actively engage Georgetown’s social justice mission through the performing arts.


View the pdf program for An Acorn.