Dallas — Soul Rep Theatre Company is exploding back on the theater scene with the force of pure funk, rhythm and plenty of sass. Now nestled within the confines of the South Dallas Cultural Center (SDCC), Soul Rep was founded in 1996 as a community theater operated by volunteers and provided an artistic platform for African-American performers, writers and directors to tell stories reflecting the African-American experience and expose untapped and raw talent.
The company took a 10-year hiatus in 2005 and that break provided more clarity about the purpose of the company. The last 10 years has been a time of evolving for co-founder Anyika McMillian-Herod and Artistic Director Guinea Bennett-Price: marriages, children, graduate school, other artistic pursuits, and they say—almost in unison—“wisdom.”
“This is it. Our desire is to be a sustainable arts organization; telling our stories,” says McMillian-Herod.
The company now has its legs and they are ready to dance into the future with the same grit they are known for. The vision for the theater is unchanged.
“Our original vision was to use theater and all of the elements as our living legacy and to create a regional theater company and Equity house,” says Bennett-Price. “We’re fierce about good theater and we always knew we would come back to it.”
The two are reaching far and wide. McMillian-Herod says their goal in the next year is to have paid staff and expand their educational reach. “We’ve always considered ourselves a training ground. A major part of our success is how we’ve inspired younger people who are now coming back.”
McMillian-Herod says continuing to dream big is also a part of the vision.
The 2015-2016 Season begins Wednesday, Sept. 9 with the company’s signature New Play Festival, the group’s ninth. “We love new work and we want to maintain our edge,” says Bennet-Price. The short plays are Teach by Camika Spencer, Him/Her by Mary Hill Spigner, Drums of My So Black Me by Chris Herod, Scenes from the Monarch by Anyika McMillan-Herod, and 100 Percent by Max Sedacca, which is written, directed and performed by Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts students.
McMillan-Herod and Bennett-Price want the public to get their souls fed and feast on works throughout the season, which also includes:
- Naughty But Nice—A Christmas Cabaret (Dec. 11-13, 2015)
- Her Stories, Virginia Hamilton's book adapted for the stage by Tonya Davis Holloway with original music by Christopher Mazen (Feb. 1-7, 2016)
- Suzan-Lori Parks Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Topdog/Underdog (April 8-17, 2016)
- George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum (May 28, 2016) as a fundraiser
The new season was inspired by what McMillian-Herod describes as a “360-degree series of moments. Each show has actors and others who were with Soul Rep from the beginning. We’ve always been committed to doing a season that’s robust.”
The company also has come full circle with the collaboration with SDCC. Soul Rep cut its audacious artistic teeth at The Center. Throughout its history Soul Rep produced several productions to SDCC, as well as Frank’s Place in the Kalita Humphreys Theater, the Black Academy of Arts and Letters and, upon its return to the scene in 2014, the Margo Jones Theatre. But the 2015-16 season is the first full official season at SDCC. The collaboration between SDCC and Soul Rep is a testimony about never giving up on dreams.
“We have the opportunity to impart the gifts birthed in us at the Center into training up the next generation of arts patrons and artists,” says Bennett-Price.
For more information about the season and to purchase tickets and season passes please call 214-939-2787.