Base: The Brutal Truth about Healthcare
Caitlyn Scherger '22
What would happen if every healthcare center except one was run by the same company? Would it cause chaos? The newest theatre production, Base, attempts to give some insight on what a world like this would look like.
It is written and directed by Xander Dotson as a part of his senior capstone project, and features Kayin Gray, Xander Dotson, Nathan Soto, Savannah Ritter, Nicole Stutt, Josh Brown, Angie Gidaga, Conner Wagstaff, and Sofia Henderson, some of whom have multiple roles within the overall play.
The play offers a commentary on the current healthcare system, focusing on those who need medical care but cannot afford it. It centers around the clinic, which is in the Base, a poorer part of an unnamed town. The clinic is run by Doc, a kind-hearted doctor who tries to care for whoever needs help but refuses to charge her patients.
Doc’s struggles, as well as her allies', are placed center stage. They fight to maintain a hold on her clinic as the other clinics fall into the hands of RaegMed, a company that wants a monopoly on the healthcare in the Base.
Because the play takes place in a poor area, most of the set reflects it. “There is a lot of gray and a lot of things that are dirty and old,” Dotson said. However, there is a small part of the set that is not as dirty and old. The house of one of the patients is on a raised platform, reiterating the theme of the disconnect between the Base and the surrounding area despite their close proximity.
This tension between the Base and the surrounding area combined with the anxiety of Doc trying to keep what is hers perfectly join to create what Dotson calls “a subject matter that is engaging on a character level.” This engagement was originally Dotson’s idea. “My first ideas for my capstone were thinking about accessibility of theatre in terms of being able to get an audience in, pricewise and [with] a subject matter that is engaging,” he said. “It developed from there into thinking about my own politics, beliefs and ended up dove-tailing really nicely with healthcare.”
Besides creating a show that entices the audience, he also wanted to shake up the standards for running a show. “The best part has been working with everyone, and seeing it come together [with] a less hierarchical approach to theatre has been really great” he describes.
This desire to create a more collaborative environment is reflected in each rehearsal; each actor provides feedback and ideas for each scene, especially helping with small and vital techniques such as projecting and body language. Although everyone has been contributing and helping one another improve, one of the toughest things to handle has been scheduling. As Dotson explains, “We spent last semester working on the script, but [this semester] it’s a pretty tight window. I’ve been in plays that have only had a very slightly wider window than this, but actually being the one to schedule it has been a very different beast.”
But even with a busy schedule, students and faculty should come out and see this production. “I think it is a lot of fun,” Dotson said. “There’s not a lot of plays about medicine where you are going to hear a bunch of people swear and fight with cops but I am hoping that it’s not just going to be a play with interesting themes but also fun to see.”
And although I have yet to see the finished production, as it is not ready yet, the show that I saw was quite entertaining and enjoyable. So, take a break from your springtime stresses and work and go enjoy this never before seen production. Cheer on Doc and her allies as she tries to retain her control on her clinic! This production is open to all. R-MC students, staff, and faculty can get in for free, and for $5, the general public can come see this show. This production will be available to see on March 11th - 14th at 7 P.M. All shows will be in Cobb Theater. Call the Box Office (804) 752-7316 or visit bit.ly/rmcbase to reserve seats.