Dallas — On Friday at The Festival of Independent Theatres, The Basement opens The Caveman Play by Jeff Swearingen. The new company boasts an array of young artists who have branched off from Fun House Theatre and Film. Doak Rapp, who directs and performs in the play, spoke with TheaterJones about making his directorial debut at FIT.
TheaterJones: What is mission of The Basement, and why you think it was important to start your own company?
Doak Rapp: Essentially, the mission statement of the Basement is to provide an outlet for a lot of the students that have aged out of Fun House and want to continue doing work that a college perhaps won't offer. Many of the members of the Basement (including myself as of June) have graduated high school or gone to college and see that they are doing works or learning things that Fun House had already taught them. So the Basement provides an outlet to do works that are new to us, as opposed to a work a college might do. A good example is The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute, that is a play that is done often in colleges, but three of the members in my current cast had already done that with Fun House back a few years ago. So the Basement offers the opportunity to do something new, as opposed to something that has already been taught and experienced
Is this your first time directing? Can you talk about that experience, and you're in the show as well?
This is my first time directing. I really, really enjoy doing it. I like getting everyone on the same page. It's interesting directing a new work too, as Jeff Swearingen wrote the play. So I've had the luxury of asking the writer if it's going in the direction he intended in writing it.
As for being in the play and directing it, that's a different story. It's challenging because you can't necessarily watch yourself in a run, so you have to be very careful in the direction you're going with the performance. A way I combat that is recording myself running lines to make sure my intent is correct, operatives are correct, etc. As challenging as it has been, it's an unparalleled experience and I hope to do it again
Why did you all choose this play to submit at FIT?
I chose to submit this because Jeff came to me and told me he was writing a play that he thought would be perfect for FIT. So I was immediately in. I also chose the FIT because it is a fantastic way to gain audiences for new companies. So it seemed perfect for the Basement to do, given we've existed for a little under a year now.
Why do you think this show is relevant for a 2017 audience?
It is super relevant in the current political climate. It exemplifies the dangers of populism, and making choices politically out of fear and emotions as opposed to reason and facts. It's also a comedy, which is how I always prefer satirical works to be. I find it very relevant to a 2017 audience, given it is political. But if someone is tired of hearing politics it is still highly enjoyable.
What are some observations you have about being a young artist in DFW?
I love the DFW scene. I've been auditioning around, working inside and outside of Fun House for about three years now, and it’s awesome. The scene has been good to me, and for as long as I can remember I've wanted to stay here, or at the very least travel and come back to it. I think it is a perfect theater scene to have grown up in, as it's big but accessible, especially for a young person like myself.
» The Caveman Play opens Friday, July 21, following The Great Dictator from Audacity Theatre Lab.
The Caveman Play is performed in the following blocks:
- 8 p.m. Friday, July 21
- 2 p.m. Saturday, July 22
- 5 p.m. Sunday, July 23
- 5 p.m. Saturday, July 29
- 2 p.m. Sunday, July 30
- 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5
See more info about the 2017 Festival of Independent Theatres schedule here.