December 10, 2022 – December 17, 2022 all-day

Family Weekend Performance Dates: December 10-17, 2022 

School Day Matinee Dates: December 8-16, 2022 

Touring Dates: September 12 - December 6, 2022 

Dessa is a modern-day 12-year-old with no shortage of mysteries to solve and fossils to find. But in the aftermath of her father’s death, this smart, funny young scientist struggles to overcome her grief and anger at all the changes in her world. Dessa's unlikely comfort comes from a remarkable new friend, one only she can see and hear – Mary Anning, the 19th-century paleontologist. But why is Mary’s portrait not on the museum wall alongside those of her male counterparts? Dessa decides that she’s going to fight to earn Mary the respect she deserves. With help from her new classmate and once-rival, Nilo, Dessa unearths secrets of the past and present – for Mary’s legacy and her own way forward. 

By Laura Schellhardt

Best enjoyed by ages 9 and up 

Location: The LCT Main Stage and On Tour 

Length of Show: Approximately 1 hour long 

Family Weekend Performance Info

Saturday, December 102:00pm 
Sunday, December 112:00pm 
Saturday, December 172:00pm & 7:00pm*

*Pay What You Will 

Purchase a Membership 

School Day Matinee Info

Tuesday-Friday, December 8-9
Tuesday-Friday, December 13-16
10:00am & 11:45am 

Digging Up Dessa is recommended for – 4th - 8th grade
Curricular Connections – Paleontology, Women's History, The Scientific Method, Friendship, Responsibility, Dealing with Grief 

Schedule a Field Trip


Things to Know Before the Show

About LCT's Touring Performances

Digging Up Dessa is a LCT Touring Performance and when it is not performing on LCT's Mainstage it is traveling around Lexington and beyond to bring this show along with Puss in Boots to different schools and Venues. These productions are created to be packable and built in many different types of performance spaces. Our actors not only perform in their role, but are responsible for setting up and striking the set as they travel. 

This story is a great way to start conversations about... big feelings and sharing them with others. Throughout the story we see Dessa and her mother, Esther, processing the death of father and husband John. Following her fathers death, Dessa begins conversing with Mary Anning, a paleontologist from a book of scientists her father had gifted her. Dessa avoids questions from her mother and therefore doesn’t share her feelings about the accident and losing her father. Esther, while more outwardly expressive about her loss, doesn’t share the full truth about John with Dessa in an effort to protect her. Throughout the story, both characters, with the help of Mary, choose to share what they’ve been feeling. This gives both Esther and Dessa the opportunity to release feelings that they have been holding in so they can begin to move on together. This production is a great way to begin discovering what talking about our feelings looks like, and how even painful moments can create space for healing.

For resources to help young people talk about grief : https://childrengrieve.org/resources

We love this story because… it shows how powerful, creative, and capable young people are. In this story Dessa is not only processing the loss of her father, but also determined to uncover the truth about sexism in archeology. Adults often think we need to shelter children or shield them from some of the harder truths of life, and while sometimes this is appropriate, we don’t realize how strong and resilient they truly are. Dessa and Nilo both remind us that children can do hard things and we should welcome their questions, realizations, and ideas. We invite you to join us in listening to your young people, you might learn a thing or two!

More details about lighting for this performance will be explained during the week of December 4, 2022. Audiences can expect simple lighting, used to illuminate actors on stage and highlight key moments.

This show includes a character, Nilo, who dreams of creating sounds for video games. He records sounds to imitate other things. These recordings are used to create a soundscape for their presentation. Touring performances use a bluetooth speaker and sound recordings to add effects to the story.

 In the story, two characters Dessa and Nilo disagree and have a hard time getting along. Their conversations include some general name calling and comments. Dessa is also a student at a new school and experiences some judgment for her behavior, clothes, and love for science.

 This show follows Dessa who, a year prior, lost her father in a car accident. On multiple occasions, Dessa recalls the accident to try and figure out what happened and get through her mental block of those memories. These moments are traumatic for Dessa herself and could trigger some students - feel free to have conversations with students if necessary.

 As mentioned, multiple scenes in Digging Up Dessa talk about a car accident. To learn more about what this will include visually, check back the week of December 4.