Editor's Note: When I was publishing TheaterJones' 2018 in Review series (you can see all of the essays and lists here), and people in the community were talking about the year on Facebook, I saw Jacie Hood's post in which she linked to the list of shows she saw in 2018. She set a goal to see 100—and she met it. It sparked an idea: How could we encourage others to strive for something similar? Yes, I know New Year's resolutions should have been made before Jan. 1, but hey, I still haven't started my diet one.
Below is Jacie's list, how she did it, and her thoughts on each month's shows. She kept her list on a Google Doc and updated it throughout the year. Incidentally, this is how I keep up with my arts-going, a Google Doc broken down by month. I personally use different highlighter colors to denote things like exceptional plays, productions, design, new works, new works by local writers, and discipline (theater, dance, classical music, opera, comedy, spoken word, etc.). Hood's list is 99 percent Dallas-Fort Worth, with a few other cities thrown in (New York and Lubbock).
Below that is a TheaterJones challenge we have for you. There are prizes involved. Also, this doesn't only go for theater. Your music, opera, dance, comedy, gallery, museum and other performing and visual arts-going is encouraged.
— Mark Lowry
100 shows in 2018
By Jacie Hood
I didn’t begin the year with this goal in mind. I actually started with the mindset that after being #blessed that I was #booked so much in 2017 (please disregard my poor attempt at comedy there), that I needed a break. But since I can’t ever actually take a break, I would find a new way to focus my creative energies into a more flexible schedule. This became the Year of Learning.
I signed up for Joanie Schultz’s directing class at Watertower Theatre and Sketch Comedy Writing with Lindsay Goldapp at Stomping Ground Comedy (and then five more classes, but that’s another story for another day). I would focus on other endeavors rather than acting this year, including seeing more theatre which is a learning experience in itself. I had friends in the past who counted their shows and saw an old college classmate pitching the goal of seeing 52 Show in 52 Weeks. So, without a number in mind, I started Instagramming every program and numbering it. (Side note: I definitely missed some programs, so the numbering is definitely off in some places, which has led to mass confusion and panic on numerous occasions.)
However, March came and I had hit over 25 and I thought to myself, “I wonder if I can get to 100? A fourth of the year has passed and I’m already a fourth of the way there…” And so began the challenge.
There haven’t been many rules to it, and along the way I’ve asked for others’ input about what I should count and why. In general, here are the loose guidelines that have appeared as well as their exceptions:
1. The show must be scripted. EXCEPTIONS: ASSSCAT 3000 at Upright Citizens Brigade, Given exception because it was counted before the challenge technically began. “State of the Arts” from Art and Seek performed at the Dallas MoMA and the Imprint Season Announcement Party were given exception because they were partially scripted from multiple performers.
2. The show should be an evening of entertainment meant to be performed alone. EXAMPLES: The One Minute Play Festival and the Camp Death Benefit, despite being dozens of individual plays, were meant to be performed all together as one larger piece. Heisenberg/Actually at Theatre Three counted as two because while performed together, the playwrights originally wrote them as stand-alone pieces.
3. I cannot be IN the show or more than passively involved with it. EXCEPTION: My play Killing Oscar I counted because I did not do anything during the performance, whereas I did not count Deck the Halls. With Brains because despite watching it, I was running tech for it.
The biggest questions I’ve gotten have been, “Wow! How did you see that many shows?” And “How much did seeing all those shows cost?”
My responses being, “A lot of dedication and festivals” and “I don’t want to know.” But to be honest, I have many generous friends who gave me comps or discounts, I took advance of industry tickets or deals, and only tried to pay full price to smaller companies, new works, or places I had no other options.
After going through my spreadsheet, here’s my approximation of how the tickets broke down:
37 FREE 36.63 percent
24 DISCOUNT 23.76 percent
38 FULL PRICE 37.62 percent
Now, I must admit, there’s actually two other questions I’ve gotten a lot throughout the year that have been really difficult to answer: “What is your favorite thing you’ve seen this year?” And “What is the WORST thing you’ve seen this year?”
Now, the interesting thing is around July when I got the first question, I wasn’t really sure what to answer. So, I started a spreadsheet of all the shows so I could better keep track and begin writing down my thoughts about these shows and performances. Now, having finished the tally, I can answer with much more confidence. And while I will only answer the second question in person (I’m a working actor/writer/director who’d like to keep doing those things, thank you), I’ve been encouraged by enough people to share my thoughts on the year publicly, so here it goes. (Breathes deeply into a paper bag because I am not a professional critic, but moves forward nervously anyway…)
Glengarry Glen Ross | Imprint Theatreworks at Bath House Cultural Center (Dallas)
A Minor Case of Murder | Pegasus Theatre at Eisemann Center (Richardson)
Bright Ideas | Tarrant Actors Regional Theatre at Fort Worth Community Arts Center (Fort Worth)
On Monsters Built of Bees & Bone | Imprint Theatreworks at Bath House Cultural Center (Dallas)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar | Dallas Children’s Theater (Dallas)
Eliot, A Soldier’s Fugue | WaterTower Theatre (Addison)
Sorry men, but I loved the ladies this month! It was my first time seeing Gloria Benavides [in Eliot, A Soldier’s Fugue], and I fell in love. She truly shone in an ensemble of men. (Later in the year, I’ve gotta give her a shoutout for her Instagram Takeover for Watertower’s production of A Doll’s House; Comedy Genius right there.) Dani Holway’s show kicking off Imprint’s On The Verge series was an emotional gut punch, impactful in so many ways. My other standout I want to mention is Laura Saladino in Bright Ideas. I’d seen her before in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress at Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas, and she has always impressed me. I don’t know if she just doesn’t audition much, but seriously people, cast her. She is an undiscovered gem.
A Chorus Line | Uptown Players at Moody Performance Hall (Dallas)
If/Then | Living Room Concerts (Dallas)
Suckers, Killing Oscar, Sauced, PERAMBULATORY: preambleastory, College Nights, Another Set of Issues, The Best (Wo)Man (First Impressions Festival) | Imprint Theatreworks at Bath House Cultural Center (Dallas)
I was delighted to be a part of the inaugural First Impression series, and even more honored when I saw the quality of work in these readings. Haley Nelson’s PERAMBULATORY: preambleastory was adorable and thoughtful (bonus points for the first performance I’d seen of Kate Paulson this year), and Shane Strawbridge’s subversion of a traditional farce in The Best (Wo)Man was hilarious, modern, and right on the nose for being ready for community theatres across the country. (Shout out to Taylor Staniforth for anchoring that beast of a show!)
Wally World | WaterTower Theatre’s DETOUR Festival (Addison)
Movies that Should Be Musicals: My Best Friend’s Wedding | WaterTower Theatre’s DETOUR Festival (Addison)
The Cradle Will Rock | Brick Road Theater at Cox Building Playhouse (Plano)
Jerry Springer the Opera | Off-Broadway at The New Group (New York City)
The Play That Goes Wrong | Broadway (New York City)
Addy & Uno | Off-Broadway (New York City)
ASSSSSCAT 3000 | Upright Citizens Brigade (New York City)
The Capulet Party | A cabaret (New York City)
Mean Girls | Broadway (preview) (New York City)
Hello, Dolly! | Broadway (New York City)
Grand Hotel | Encores! (New York City)
Putting It Together | ONSTAGE in Bedford at Trinity Arts Theater (Bedford)
She Kills Monsters | Theatre Three (Dallas)
From big to small, I saw it all this month. This was my first time seeing people I know perform on NYC stages and it was such a heart warming time! From Akron Watson in The Play That Goes Wrong, to Kristen Beth Williams in Hello, Dolly!, to my college friend Stephen Velasquez taking the lead in Addy & Uno, I can’t wait now to keep going back and seeing people I love excelling and living their dream. Speaking more locally, I have to give a shoutout to Brigham Mosley for his unique Movies that Should Be Musicals serious. I’ve only seen My Best Friend’s Wedding (obviously), but he made a fan out of me. I honestly can’t wait to see more and I’d probably watch bootlegs of previous shows if you have them… (Does anyone have them? Please send them to me. Immediately. Just kidding. Pay your artists.)
The Great Society | Dallas Theater Center at the Wyly Theatre (Dallas)
Empathitrax | Second Thought Theatre at Bryant Hall (Dallas)
Camp Death Productions Annual Benefit | Dallas
West Side Story | Houston Grand Opera (Wortham Theatre)
Pompeii!! | Kitchen Dog Theater at Trinity River Arts Center (Dallas)
Little Women | Firehouse Theatre (Farmer’s Branch)
A New Brain | OhLook Performing Arts (Grapevine)
Murder Ballad | Imprint Theatreworks at Margo Jones Theatre (Dallas)
Ordinary Days | Living Room Concerts (Dallas)
The Last One-Nighter on the Death Trail | Theatre Three (Dallas)
April was the month of the ensemble and the beginning of this year’s star. Empathitrax, Pompeii!! and Murder Ballad (honorary shout-outs to ensembles in A New Brain, Little Women, and Last One-Nighter, too!) featured such tight ensembles of actors with tight direction, beautiful characters, and connection on stage it made my heart explode. However, Pompeii!! stole the show with its brilliant cast, perfect direction and embodiment of vaudeville. It was my show of the year. This was a good month for theatre.
Lonestar Love Potion | ONSTAGE in Bedford at Trinity Arts Theater (Bedford)
The Full Monty | Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas at Irving Arts Center (Bedford)
Sunset Boulevard | Tarrant Actors Regional Theatre at Fort Worth Community Arts Center (Fort Worth)
Bridges: Then and Now | Flexible Grey Theatre Company at the Resource Center (Dallas)
Y’all. Bridges. If you didn’t see it, shame on you. There were SO MANY CHANCES this year. This group was invited all over the place to continue telling these carefully curated and lovingly shared stories. With its Laramie Project vibes, this new work deserves to be continued and Seth Johnson and Flexible Grey commended a thousand times over for their work on this project.
South Pacific | Living Room Concerts (Dallas)
Self-Injurious Behavior | Theatre Three/Theatre Too! (Dallas)
Guys and Dolls | Lyric Stage at Majestic Theatre (Dallas)
Mamma Mia! | Casa Mañana (Fort Worth)
The Music Man | Lubbock Moonlight Musicals (Lubbock)
Legally Blonde | Lubbock Community Theatre (Lubbock)
NEW WORK, NEW VOICES, NEW AUDIENCES. Want me to say it louder for the people in the back? We don’t have to get the main stages. In fact, some stories need the intimacy of small side rooms, smaller stages, unwanted theatres. Now, don’t get me wrong, Theatre Three’s downstairs space is none of these things (well, except smaller), but in general—give us, the community, the chance to workshop and grow new local voices because they will yield us things like Jessica Cavanagh’s Self-Injurious Behavior. Much like last year’s Cedar Springs or Big Scary Animals, T3/Theatre Too! yielded a new work that people could NOT stop talking about. And rightfully so.
Dogfight | ONSTAGE in Bedford at Trinity Arts Theater (Bedford)
The Comedy of Errors | Shakespeare Dallas at Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre (Dallas)
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert | Uptown Players at Kalita Humphreys Theater (Dallas)
The Revolutionists | Imprint Theatreworks at Margo Jones Theatre (Dallas)
Jimmy Pine, Just Girly Things, The Book of Gabe, Bible Women, Suckers, Where Do I Sit?, Landscape | Festival of Independent Theatres at Bath House Cultural Center (Dallas)
So, I told myself before I started writing that I didn’t want to mention people that I know because I don’t want to make any of my friends upset that I called out a few and didn’t praise everyone. But here’s the deal. I cannot do July justice and skip mentioning Sky Williams in The Revolutionists. I’m getting teary eyed right now just beaming with happiness at her performance. Now, don’t get me wrong—-she ripped my heart out, stomped on it, wrapped it up in Marie’s ribbons, and then shoved it back in my chest, but wow. She was made to do it.
Cardboard Piano | Proper Hijinx Productions at Dance Xpress (Carrollton)
Dallas One-Minute Play Festival | One-Minute Play Festival and Kitchen Dog Theater at Southern Methodist University, Bob Hope Theatre
Heisenberg | Theatre Three (Dallas)
Actually | Theatre Three (Dallas)
Hand to God | Watertower Theatre (Addison)
Imprint Theatreworks Season Announcement Concert | Stomping Ground Comedy Theatre (Dallas)
School of Rock | Performing Arts Fort Worth (national tour) at Bass Performance Hall (Fort Worth)
Parker Gray. I’d love to sit down with him sometime and just ask, “How did you do that?” The stamina, both physical and mental, to pull off that performance left me speechless. Between this and Pompeii!! and Newsies (at Lyric Stage) he was my performer of the year.
Stiff, Pichanga, Ms Delight, Ashes to Ashes, LACA Building Bridges, Two in the Bedroom, Smile, Princess, Tiny Platform Shakespeare, In Due Time: Pantomime | Fort Worth Fringe Festival at Fort Worth Community Arts Center
Stage Kiss | Circle Theatre (Fort Worth)
Revolt She Said. Revolt Again. | Second Thought Theatre at Bryant Hall (Dallas)
Consume as Directed | Stomping Ground Comedy (Dallas)
Once | Theatre Three (Dallas)
9 to 5: The Musical | Theatre Arlington (Arlington)
Newsies (Lyric Stage)
Oh Jesus! | Stomping Ground Comedy Theatre (Dallas)
The Cuban and the Redhead | Pegasus Theatre at the Eisemann Center (Richardson)
Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika | Uptown Players at Kalita Humphreys Theater (Dallas)
An Octoroon | Stage West (Fort Worth)
This month about killed me: 19 shows. And while not everything was hit, there were definitely some highlights. Stiff by Sherry Jo Ward being performed after a massive health decline was even more poignant, humor and love filled than I could have imagined and I’m so happy it played to full houses at the FW Fringe. On the other hand, Pichanga featured equally beautiful and touching storytelling and had maybe a third of the house. Take a chance on something new everyone. You will find gems like this piece. (Quick shout-out as well to In Due Time—that actor I hope will go places.) Beyond the FW Fringe, I’d be remiss to not mention Angels in America and Revolt. Both amazing casts and productions that stuck with me in many ways.
Robert’s Eternal Goldfish | Audacity Theatre Lab at Stomping Ground Comedy Theatre (Dallas)
Straight | Uptown Players at Bryant Hall (Dallas)
Artist Descending a Staircase | Amphibian Stage Productions (Dallas)
Treasure Island | Dallas Children’s Theater (Dallas)
The Moors | Theatre Three (Dallas)
Fun fact. I’m typically a very quiet audience member. I hate laughing or making noise in shows because I’m afraid I’ll miss some of the dialogue. This was not the case with Straight. I was TALKING TO THIS SHOW. That script dropped me off a cliff and I audibly said, “NO.” In the final blackout. Oof. Shout-outs to Brad McEntire, the design, Foley work and ensemble of Artist, and Aaron Green hanging upside down on a rope in Treasure Island. Thank you for that heart attack)
A Doll’s House | Watertower Theatre (Addison)
Blood Brothers | Imprint Theatreworks at Bath House Cultural Center (Dallas)
I. Gelosi | University of North Texas (Denton)
Men on Boats | Circle Theatre
I felt bad for my seat partner at A Doll’s House because, boy was I UGLY CRYING at the end of that show. The final picture and moment that Joanie Schultz created was perfection and everything that I needed that month. I was also lucky (?) enough to get to spend some time with the cast of Men on Boats (I use the question mark because it was lovely meeting them, but unfortunate the circumstances of why), which made me delight in their ensemble performance even more.
A Christmas Survival Guide | One Thirty Productions at Bath House Cultural Center (Dallas)
A Very Judy Christmas | Uptown Players at Kalita Humphreys Theater (Dallas)
Christmas in Queertown | Stomping Ground Comedy Theatre (Dallas)
State of the Arts: LGBT and Equity in the Arts | KERA’s Art & Seek at Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas)
Solstice: A New Holiday Adventure | Theatre Three (Dallas)
The Snowy Day and Other Stories | Dallas Children’s Theater (Dallas)
The Magic Tree House | Dallas Children’s Theater (Dallas)
I have to admit that I am a total Scrooge. I typically abhor holiday shows. December is dark for me typically, so this year was a challenge going to SO MANY CHRISTMAS SHOWS. But I came out of it alive, and I have to say that I was impressed with the diversity of shows I saw. Queertown was a HOOT, Janelle was perfection as Judy, and DCT’s shows left me remembering why I love theatre.
As the kids were meeting the performers for Snowy Day, a mother asked her child if he wanted to meet the actors. The child asked, “What’s an actor?” And the mother responded with, “It’s the person who tells the stories.”
I love telling stories, and I’ve loved quite a few of the stories I’ve seen this year. I’m continually inspired by the art my friends, colleagues, and fellow community members create.
Keep telling new stories. Keep sharing your voices. Keep auditioning. Keep booking both the paying gig that helps you pay rent and the gig that helps you keep your artistic sanity. We are a community of storytellers and I can’t wait to see what stories we tell in 2019.
We want you to #BeLikeJacie.
We know that our readers love the arts. So we're asking you to challenge yourself to have 100 arts-going experiences in 2019. This could be all focused in one discipline, such as theater or comedy, or it could be a mix of all the performing arts.
Of course we realize that seeing performing arts events is prohibitive because of cost, especially when babysitting and travel is factored in. I say travel because, even though gas prices are currently low, it takes time and patience to venture to Dallas if you live in Fort Worth, and vice versa; or to travel from, say, Dallas to Frisco, or Fort Worth to Cleburne, or Garland to Denton. You get the idea.
We don't have any real solutions there. We encourage you to check out discounts for students, military and senior citizens, pay-what-you-performances, lotteries for touring shows, rush tickets, and the like. In case you haven't discovered it yet, volunteering to usher for a performing arts event is a great way to see it for free. Some theaters have done free ticketing programs in the past, and might still have them (we're thinking of Kitchen Dog Theater).
Also, check out season subscription prices for the groups, especially the small and mid-size ones. There are deals to be had; and often you can join in the middle of a season already in progress.
So here's the challenge: Whenever you attend an arts event, and this includes staged readings, cabaret performances, street fairs with performing arts happenings, traditional performing arts events, lectures related to the arts and probably a few other things we're not thinking of, Instagram a photo of your program, ticket, the marquee—something that denotes that you're there. Tag @TheaterJones and @MetropolitanArtsMedia on Instagram, and use the hashtag #TJ100Challenge. Also tag the organization and/or venue, if they have an Instagram handle.
UPDATE: You can also do this via Facebook (although Instagram is preferred), and still tag @TheaterJones and @Metropolitan Arts Media. And if you've already seen something this year, and posted about it, go back and edit to add us.
At the end of the year, we will have rewards for those who have met the challenge. And because we understand that 100 might be a lot, we'll have rewards for folks who make it to 50, 75, or 100 events. Note: If you go to a festival, each performance counts as one. (So, at the Festival of Independent Theatres, for example, one show-block counts as seeing two performances, since you'll be seeing two one-act plays.)
This spring, Metropolitan Arts Media (the non-profit that now runs TheaterJones) is launching a separate website to cover visual art, ContxtDFW.com; and as that gets closer, we'll add visual art to this context.
Please remember to sign up for the forthcoming newsletters from TheaterJones and ContxtDFW, which will have weekly giveaways as well. You can do that here.
Now go forth and see some art!