<em>Role Reversal</em>&nbsp;will be presented at Sundown Collaborative Theatre\'s <em>We Done It Again: A Mixtape</em>

August: Hot with New Play Fests

August is shaping up to be the month of new works showcases in North Texas. From Soul Rep to Sundown, here's your guide to these short—some very short—works.

published Thursday, July 31, 2014

Photo: Dominic D\'Andrea
A photo from a past One-Minute Play Festival in New York. Kitchen Dog Theater presents the first Dallas One-Minute Play Festival in August

August used to be the month when we (read: critics) could take somewhat of a break. Trust, after many years of seeing a lot of local theater, the hottest month has traditionally been the least active, arts-wise. I guess everyone’s getting ready for their new seasons beginning in September. (In case you’re wondering, January comes in second; March and October are typically the busiest months.)

But in looking over the upcoming schedule, we noticed an interesting trend: new play festivals! There are no fewer than six events that celebrate original work in Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton, with much of it is by local playwrights. We’ll even give you a bonus with one in early September.

Most of them are collections of short one-acts (30 minutes or less for each play), some are scenes and monologues, and in the most interesting addition to the list, Kitchen Dog Theater is hosting the first Dallas One-Minute Play Festival. Yes, it’s a collection of plays (60!) that each run 60 seconds or less. Think it sounds easy? Don’t bet on it.

Among the other events are two festivals focused on black writers: Soul Rep Theatre Company’s eighth New Play Festival and 7th Stage Productions’ fourth Stage Black. Two others, from Fort Worth’s SceneShop and Denton’s Sundown Collaborative Theatre, are set up as evenings of short works, scenes and performative art, with live music. Audacity Theatre Lab jumps in with a new quarterly showcase of solo works-in-progress, called Audacity Solo Salon.

And since we’re going into early September, too, there’s TeCo Theatrical Productions’ first PlayPride LGBT Festival, with locally written plays on LGBT themes.

Throw in the final weekend of the Festival of Independent Theatres, which closes Saturday, Aug. 2, at the Bath House Cultural Center, and is mostly new plays and local playwrights, and you could do nothing but spend your August in the presence of writing that no audiences have heard before.

It should be noted that there are also full productions of locally written plays having their world premieres at several theaters, such as Ronnie Claire Edwards' Candy Barr's Last Dance at Theatre Three, and Johnny Simons' Nekkid with the Cats: A Wisepecker Connundrum at Hip Pocket Theatre.

Photo: Lisa B. Whitfield
Jonathan Norton's Wonderful World will be seen in Soul Rep Theatre Company's 8th New Play Festival

Here's a guide to each event:


Soul Rep Theatre Company

Eighth New Play Festival

The lowdown: Soul Rep Theatre Company was a much-loved theater company in the late 1990s and early 2000s, giving D-FW its first look at plays like Endesha Ida-Mae Holland’s From the Mississippi Delta, Duane Chandler’s The Trees Don’t Bleed in Tuskegee, Suzan-Lori Parks’ In the Blood and Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky. The latter was so well received that Stage West imported the full production to its Fort Worth theater (then at the TCU space). Soul Rep also brought the New York-based Hip-Hop Theatre Junction to the Undermain Theatre, where they performed a terrific update of Romeo and Juliet, called Rhyme Deferred.

Soul Rep lasted seven seasons and folded in 2003. Ten years later, they reemerged with the same group of people who founded the theater, reviving their original work The Freedmans at the Margo Jones Theatre in November 2013.

This New Play Festival will be the company’s eighth collection of new works.

The line-up:

  • Breakfast by New York playwright Yusef Miller — A dark comedy about a married couple dealing with their big and small issues over breakfast.
  • Wonderful World by Dallas playwright Jonathan Norton — A “ghetto fabulous” absurd play that transports the audience from a dark road outside Grapevine to another world, complete with aliens.
  • The Ballad of Jane Elkins by Soul Rep co-founder Anyika McMillan-Herod — A historical drama that tells the story of Jane Elkins, a slave girl hung for killing Mr. Wisdom, a widowed man from Farmers Branch, in 1853.
  • When Going Green Goes (#%@!) by Soul Rep co-founder Guinea Price and her husband, Keith Price — It humorously explores the do’s-and-don’ts and ins-and-outs of recycling.

The details: July 31-Aug. 3 at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park. The event also includes a Sousu Pop Up Market during the run of the festival, complete with vendors selling organic foods, art, and more.

» Our listing, with times, ticket info, maps and more




Photo: Steven Alan McGaw
Michael Wittman in Steven Alan McGaw's Home. School., presented in SceneShop's showcase J.O.B.


The lowdown: SceneShop was founded by Steven Alan McGaw and Les Cargot in the late 1990s, and has consistently presented a summer showcase of scenes and monologues, mostly by area writers, ever since. Every year the event has a theme, and this time, as you may have guessed from the title, they’re all related to (un)employment. SceneShop has also performed at WaterTower Theatre’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, and offers a holiday edition, too.

The line-up:

  • The Evaluation by Kyle Irion — A young man’s 90-day-performance review is the launch pad for a flight into absurdity, and a struggle for momentary power.
  • Mulligan’s by Dale Shelton and Allison Willoughby — Chaos, with a side of frustration, are the plat du jour for workers in a busy eatery.
  • Byway by Nicholas Irion — Woodworking is both an art and a craft, requiring patience, determination and even a kind of grace. The same can be said for raising a son.
  • Mine Likes It When She Don’t See Me by Chris E. Gepp — For some, a clear path in life presents itself early.  For others—like Simon—one has to try different options, like shopping for a jacket. Sometimes, things just don’t fit.
  • Home. School. by Steven Alan McGaw — Micah recalls his mother‘s emphatic instruction that caring for a puppy would be his responsibility. In a tumultuous growing up, he learns many lessons.
  • A Long, Damned Night by Natalie Gaupp and Steven Alan McGaw — At Opal’s Highway Hideway, a beer joint off the West Texas interstate, they usually play cards to pass the time. One night, they don’t.

The details: 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, and Friday & Saturday, Aug. 8-9, at Arts Fifth Avenue in Fort Worth. Before the show, catch music from Pasticcio on Aug. 2 and 8; and City Lights Singers on Aug. 9

» Our listing, with times, ticket info, maps and more


Sundown Collaborative Theatre

We’ve Done It Again: A Mixtape

Tashina Richardson in Trying to Tell You, in Sundown Collaborative Theatre's We've Done It Again: A Mixtape


The lowdown: The Denton-based Sundown is entering its seventh season, which harks back to earlier seasons when the group was presenting a mix of works from the canon along with original devised pieces based on a theme. They’ve taken one of their shows, Happily Ever After, to the New York International Fringe Festival. You can read more about their upcoming season here.

The line-up:

  • Isn’t It Fabulous by David Beckman — When a man tries a new restaurant, he learns that perhaps not every customer is always right.
  • Lizard Boy Eats a Dorito by Brad McEntire — It is exactly what it sounds like.
  • Jon Goes to Mars by Jeff Hernandez —The Mars One project wants to put men and women on Mars. It’s a one-way trip with the intention of colonizing the planet, which might be just far enough for Jon to meet someone new.
  • A Game by Cody Lucas — Sometimes the fun is in the playing of the game. But how do you play when the rules are made up and there's no clear way of winning?
  • Connected, created and performed by Kaitlin Grassman, Robert Linder, Lauren Moore, Tashina Richardson and Paul Vaughn — A mini-devised theatre piece which delves into the level of connection each person can handle.
  • Role Reversal, created and directed by Kelsey Johnson — A movement-based power play about a writer/character relationship, exploring how what you create can take on a life of its own.
  • Tyler’s Mom by Ben Schroth — Tyler's mom is up early and on the attack. It's best not to argue or she'll go on all morning—unless she has laundry to do.
  • Trying To Tell You, created and performed by Tashina Richardson — A woman wonders: is it possible to communicate without speaking?
  • White Russian by Matt Parent — As friends celebrate a birthday, they realize nothing is as it seems and everyone may not make it out alive.

The details: Aug. 11-13 at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park, and Aug. 16-17 at the Greenspace Arts Collective in Denton

» Our listing, with times, ticket info, maps and more


Kitchen Dog Theater

Dallas One-Minute Play Festival

Photo: Dominic D'Andrea
A photo from a past One-Minute Play Festival in New York. Kitchen Dog Theater presents the first Dallas One-Minute Play Festival in August


The lowdown: The One-Minute Play Festival (#1MPF) is a New York-based theatre company, founded by producing artistic director Dominic D’Andrea, and is America’s largest and longest running short-form theatre company.

According to its website, #1MPF is barometer project, which investigates the zeitgeist of different communities through dialogue and consensus building sessions and a performance of many moments. #1MPF works in partnership with theatres sharing playwright or community-specific missions across the country. #1MPF creates locally sourced playwright-focused community events, with the goal of promoting the spirit of radical inclusion by representing local cultures of playwrights of different age, gender, race, cultures, and points of career. The work attempts to reflect the theatrical landscape of local artistic communities by creating a dialogue between the collective conscious and the individual voice.

This year, there have been/will be #1MPF events in cities across North America, including Dallas, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Trenton, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Boston, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, Indianapolis, Anchorage and others.

The Dallas event is hosted by Kitchen Dog Theater, which is no stranger to new plays. It has produced full-length works by locals such as Vicki Caroline Cheatwood and Matt Lyle in its New Works Festival, affiliated with the National New Play Network. In 2015, we’ll see local writer Lee Trull’s Wilde/Earnest, his take on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

The line-up: Kitchen Dog hasn’t released the titles of the plays yet, but there are 30 playwrights involved, each contributing two plays. The writers include Robin Armstrong, Robert Askins, Vicki Caroline Cheatwood, Bruce R. Coleman, Michael Federico, John M. Flores, Lina Gallegos, Blake Hackler, William Jackson Harper, Isabella Russell Ides, Crystal Jackson, Jason Johnson-Spinos, Tim Johnson, Jim Kuenzer, Joshua Kumler, Jenny Ledel, Cody Lucas, Matt Lyle, Nico Martini, Brad McEntire, Jonathan Norton, Samantha Rios, Marco Antonio Rodriguez, Tom Sime, Jared Strange, Jeff Swearingen, Alia Tavakolian, Lee Trull and Angela Wilson.

The directors are: Spencer Driggers, Kelsey Head, Tim Johnson, Dylan Key, Nico Martini and Lee Trull.

The details: 8 p.m. Saturday-Monday, Aug. 16-18 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas. All 60 plays are performed each evening.

» Our listing, with times, ticket info, maps and more


7th Stage Productions

Stage Black: A Festival of New Plays


The lowdown: 7th Stage Productions is a company founded by Jiles King, and has presented this festival of new works for four years. King is now the Executive Director of the Black Academy of Arts and Letters, which hosts his play festival. Stage Black also happens in New York, the week before its Texas performances. More info on the New York showcase is here.

The line-up:

  • Frank’s Girls by Cherié Monique — Rayla returns home to celebrate her parents 30th Anniversary. Her mother Vivian and her sister Liliana just aren't going to make the night that easy. And her poor kind, nonchalant father is caught in the cross fire. Will she survive? 
  • Late Nights and Early Mornings by Eric Dickens — Zanobia is happily married, until a blast from the past comes in to stir up old emotions. Will Zanobia stick with the tried and true relationship or let go of her inhibitions and take a walk on the wild side? 
  • Papa by Lou Johnson — A Chicago man receives an emergency phone call from Tennessee; his father has suffered a heart attack and may be dying. Will he risk everything to make the trip to Memphis? Or will his fear force him to stay in Chicago and, maybe miss seeing his beloved Papa one last time?
  • Space Relations by Bernard Tarver — Evans just moved into a neighborhood filled with longtime residents. One winter day he clashes with a neighbor over Space Relations and their different interpretation of local customs. 
  • Strangers by Kendra Augustin — Joel and Violet have been happily married for over a decade. She learns that her husband has been keeping secrets about his life. Will their marriage last or have they become Strangers? 

The details: Aug. 14-16 at the June Havoc Theatre in New York; and Aug. 22-24 in the Clarence Muse Café Theater at the Black Academy of Arts and Letters in the Dallas Convention Center complex.

» Our listing, with times, ticket info, maps and more


Audacity Theatre Lab

Audacity Solo Salon

Photo: Courtesy Van Quattro
Van Quattro's solo show Standing Eight Count will be seen in Audacity Theatre Lab's Solo Salon


The lowdown: Audacity Theatre Lab is the brainchild of Brad McEntire, who has tirelessly created new work and solo performances, which he has taken to fringe festivals around the country, including four times to the New York International Fringe Festival. McEntire and Audacity hosted the first Dallas Solo Fest in May. Read our profile of him here.

The line-up:

  • Standing Eight Count by Van Quattro — In this new solo piece, a young broken-hearted man trying to figure out how to salvage his life.
  • One Woman Speaks for the Women Who Carried the Word by ElizaBeth Bontley — Charlotte Delbo was a member of the French Resistance who survived an ordeal in a concentration camp in WW2. The women there chose to help each other survive as long as they could, so that one of them could return and carry the words and stories of the women imprisoned there. Upon her return home, she wrote "Who Will Carry the Word."
  • The Rat Boy of Soulard by Steven Young — Soulard, French for drunkard, is both a lifestyle choice for his mother and the St. Louis home for the six-year-old, sun burnt, bald headed, short-trousered, Mickey-Mouse ear wearin’ Stevie Verbal. Born, coming out the wrong end up, mother and son engage in a struggle that takes them on a turbulent ride through the sixties.

The details: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25 at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park. These shows are all works in progress.

» Our listing, with times, ticket info, maps and more


TeCo Theatrical Productions

PlayPride LGBT Festival

Photo: Courtesy Buster Spiller
Buster Spiller

The lowdown: TeCo, which began in Atlanta but has been in Dallas for more than a decade, has one of the best kept secrets in North Texas with the Bishop Arts Theater, a lovely space with comfortable seats. TeCo has produced a New Play Festival for 12 years, every February, with one of the best prizes of any local play festival: $1,000 and airline tickets. When Executive Director Teresa Coleman Wash received several LGBT-themed works this year, she decided to create a gay-focused new play festival, happening in the month when Dallas celebrates Gay Pride, September. The winner will also receive $1,000. (No airline tickets, though.)

The line-up (descriptions not available yet):

• Mama's Boy by Antay Bilgutay
Pot Liquor by Buster Spiller
• Foreplay by Lon Rogers
• Trapped: A Confessional Tale by Bill Richard
• Water by Christopher Soden
• Three Guys In a Bed by Randy Frank Eppes

The details: Sept. 4-14 at the Bishop Arts Theater Center in Oak Cliff.

» Our listing, with times, ticket info, maps and more Thanks For Reading

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August: Hot with New Play Fests
August is shaping up to be the month of new works showcases in North Texas. From Soul Rep to Sundown, here's your guide to these short—some very short—works.
by Mark Lowry

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