2016 Capital Fringe Preview #18: ‘In a Day of Dreary’ by Henry Ragan

Creator Henry Ragan enlightens us on In a Day of Dreary: A horror play.


Joel: In the marketing, In a Day of Dreary is described as a “horror play.” What does that mean?

Henry: More often than not, I find myself utterly bored when I’m sitting at the theatre watching plays. I’m bored of psychologically well-studied period dramas, of actors doing all their research and showing up with an “accurate” portrayal of a character. I don’t care! I don’t just want to see why something is a tragedy, I want to feel it! I want to feel the weight of the world viscerally with the characters. I want to experience it with them. That’s why comedy is so good. In comedy we as the audience get to participate in it. We get to laugh! It begs the question: why do we have to sit silent and solemn, politely shifting in our seats during dramas? Dramas should be big! They should be fun! They should SCARE US!

In a Day of Dreary is a horror play because in this theatrical experiment we take the normal, the mildly sad, and blow it up inside the central characters’ brain – you’ll see spooky masks and creepy puppets, strange dances and odd happenings – what makes it a horror play is that within the confines of these characters’ realities I think you’ll feel something visceral and real that you can take away with you. It may not haunt you, but it definitely won’t bore you.

Why would anyone see it? It sounds weird.

 It will be weird. That’s true. It’s not going to be your standard play. But that can’t possibly be a bad thing. My best theatrical experiences have been when I was surprised by something that happened. I love it, for example, when I’m seeing a play I know well and the director has staged it in a way that shocks me, that reintroduces the play to me. Then I’m blown away and engaged. What we’re doing with this play, that I think will really excite audiences, is we take a very simple plot and really kind of riff on the possibilities of perception. When Dreary (the main character) experiences something, we as the audience simultaneously observe what’s actually happening and Dreary’s own visceral reaction to that happening. Our brilliant musicians (who all studied Jazz at the Shenandoah Conservatory) will then be creating and improvising orchestration for these happenings based on Maxwell Denney’s original compositions.

What should I expect? Give me the pitch.

Expect a lively night of music, masks, puppets, hypnotists, and dancing businessmen. It’s structured like a horror: it has suspense and tension, rising action and climax, but it’s so much bigger and realer than a slasher flick. Give it a try, I think you’ll be surprised by what you see.

What is it? In a Day of Dreary is a play that experiments with different styles of theatre (mask, dance, puppetry, song, projection) to yield an engaging performance dripping with suspense.

Featuring: Maxwell Denney, Madeline Grey DeFreece, Guy Ragan, Henry Ragan.



The Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Sprenger Theatre – 1333 H Street NE, in Washington, DC 20002


Thursday, July 7th from 7:45 – 8:25 PM

Friday, July 15th from 10:15 – 10:55 PM 

Saturday, July 16th from 3:30 – 4:10 PM   

Friday, July 22nd from 6:30 – 7:10 PM 

Sunday, July 24th from 2:45 – 3:25 PM



In a Day of Dreary

Official Hashtags

Instagram @inadayofdreary


Henry Ragan.
Henry Ragan.

I am a lover both of big, grand, epic stories and small, intimate, tragic ones. To each one of us, our private stories, the ones that no one else will know, are just as grand and often grander than the Epic of Gilgamesh or the mighty Odyssey. The theatre I create often finds itself straddling the line between the extraordinary grandness that is only possible in live theatre and the fragility of my own most secret secrets.

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At Capital Fringe our focus is on expanding audience’s appetites for independent theatre, music, art, dance and unclassifiable forms of live performance and visual art. Capital Fringe is a catalyst for cultural and community development, and a destination that brings artists and audiences together. Capital Fringe thrives on amplifying the vibrancy of DC’s independent arts community and enriches the lives of those who reside, work and visit here.

As a non-profit business Capital Fringe is made possible by: Reva and David Logan FoundationNora Roberts Foundation, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, The City Fund, Dallas Morse Coors Foundation, Prince Charitable Trust, Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Share Fund of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, MARPAT Foundation, DC Public Library Foundation, PNC Bank, Fringe Board of Directors and Fringe individual donors and members.


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