Raphael Parry

More Matter, More Art

In the first of our year-end essays, Shakespeare Dallas' Raphael Parry reflects on an important year of Shakespeare, collaboration and coming full circle.

published Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It was an amazing year. Our productions of Shakespeare in the Park including Twelfth Night, Coriolanus and Macbeth played to great critical and audience acclaim.

On a personal level, I completed a full circle in directing Twelfth Night, as this was the first play that I performed in for Shakespeare Festival of Dallas in 1985. I was just starting my career in theater and I was hired to work on a bus-and-truck version that travelled all over the Southwest. I was the Assistant Stage Manager, bus driver and played the role of Antonio in the production. There is some satisfaction to be the artistic and executive leader of a company that I served as a bus driver for back in the day. The idea that you can make things happen in Dallas continues to be on my mind.

For Shakespeare Dallas, we were able to forge a new partnership with AT&T Performing Arts Center with the Complete Works of William Shakespeare being performed in a staged reading format over the next 5 years. This series represents a significant commitment for all of us to see the entire canon produced in a relatively short time. I am grateful to our artistic and production team that heads up this amazing project for our company. It is the beginning of an epic journey.

And 2012 saw the end of another very long journey—producing and directing the world premiere of Diamond Dick: The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 written by my friend and colleague Erik Ehn. This project began as an idea by Erik to stage 16 plays about genocide in the 20th century that had influence of American policy. Erik approached me about the idea almost five years ago. It is purely faith, will power and sense of artistic need that led to the fruition of this project. We have been workshopping, rehearsing, and raising money for the better part of three years. Finally in March of 2012 we performed the play in Dallas.

When I began the project, I thought it was a little presumptuous to assume that I could find a way to tell the story of atrocities that were committed almost 90 years ago on an African-American community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But the faith of an unbelievably talented artistic ensemble and the tremendous support of the Dallas community, made this project take off. After a short remount in Dallas in late October we headed to New York City, to join 15 other companies from around the world to produce all 16 plays in eight days at La Mama ETC.

The experience at La Mama ETC was breathtaking. To be performing in one of the most hallowed experimental theatres in New York City felt like coming home to my avant-garde roots. The production was incredibly well received by audiences and the New York Times called Diamond Dick a "standout production." It also gave some contextualization about the quality and adventurousness of theatre from Dallas. Our work can compare with the work by artists from around the globe and be called a peer with some of the best.

The passion and sense of desire to produce exceptional theater is at the forefront of my mind as we begin the New Year. So much good has been done and I see a resurgence that will lift all of us to a new level. I salute all of the art makers and wish great success in 2013.

◊ Raphael Parry is the artistic director of Shakespeare Dallas and Project X: Theatre. You can see him onstage in February in Kitchen Dog Theater's production of Ionesco's The Chairs. Also, he'll direct Pericles for Shakespeare Dallas. You can read more about the 2013 season here.

◊ This is the first of our year-end essays from members of the arts community on TheaterJones. From now through the end of the year, look for essays from Michael Serrecchia, Amber Nicole Guest, Jeremy Dumont, Vicki Caroline Cheatwood and others. If you'd like to contribute an essay, email Mark Lowry at marklowry@theaterjones.comThanks For Reading

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More Matter, More Art
In the first of our year-end essays, Shakespeare Dallas' Raphael Parry reflects on an important year of Shakespeare, collaboration and coming full circle.
by Raphael Parry

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