Luciana Varkevisser, Contributing Photographer

This weekend, the Dramat is showcasing the play “Every Tongue Confess.” 

Stepping into the heart of a small town, “Every Tongue Confess” sets the stage ablaze with a powerful exploration of heritage, healing and hope in a quant community grappling with its fiery trials. Written by Marcus Gardley DRA ’04, the show follows the residents of the small town of Boligee, Alabama. When a congregation becomes stuck inside a burning church — one in a series of racially motivated arsons — they attempt to unravel the story behind the fires. Produced by Spencer Staak ’24 and directed by Jessica Natalie Smith, this moving and mysterious show will have audiences thinking about it long after its conclusion.

“I love work that can amplify the diversity of humanity by focusing on the cultural legacies of Black people, specifically Black American people,” said Smith. “I feel like the show has a lot of elements of the complex legacy of religion in the Black community, what family looks like and a lot of these other complex structures that just felt exciting to explore.”

The complex themes of the show are explored through the lens of magical realism and folklore. Maladies are healed, a blind woman sees and generations reconnect across boundaries of life and death.

The magical aspects of the show are highlighted through technological features. Dancing shadows on a red and orange-lit screen are used to symbolize a burning body. A massive and intricately designed tree dominates the stage, setting up the show in a kind of naturalistic shadow. 

Overall the set is simplistic and allows for audience imagination. There are several instances when multiple scenes are taking place on stage at the same time, and the accessibility of the set allows for the scenes to flow naturally. 

The actors and technology “definitely work together with my intentions as an actor,” said Mason Mackie ’27, who plays Shadrack. “[Gardley is] a magician with his words, there’s all these different analogies. I think [the technology] makes the viewing experience a whole lot better and easy to interpret.”

“Every Tongue Confess” is the biggest show of the season in terms of scale and time, according to Dramat president Rhayna Poulin ’25. They selected the show in October and professionally designed and directed it. 

Poulin described the show as being “technically beautiful.”

“I hope that [audiences] can enjoy the complex juxtapositions that this play poses and some of the things that it holds,” said Smith. “And my hope is that it is impactful in a major way. I hope that they can experience this play on a visceral level.”

The show will run from April 3 to 6 with a total of five showings.

Luciana Varkevisser covers theater and performances. She is a freshman in Saybrook College planning on majoring in history and psychology.