Dallas — As arts organization leaders figure out their seasons while the Coronavirus rages on, announcements of digital productions and hopes for in-person events are cautiously rolling out. For Dallas Theater Center, the largest professional theater in North Texas, the details are still a little fuzzy but Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty is determined that DTC will have six productions in 2020-21, hopefully beginning with a pared-down and outdoors A Christmas Carol in December (Moriarty and his team send a 50-page document outlining plans to Actor's Equity Association in hopes of a socially distanced version with only six actors will be approved). If all goes as planned — and it has not been approved yet so it may not happen, not for in-person audiences at least — the Dickens staple will use six socially distanced actors playing multiple characters, and no children.
The season will end with the Public Works production of Twelfth Night that was supposed to happen in July 2020. Between those shows there will be an Agatha Christie mystery, a Dominique Morisseau play (not Pipeline, which was canceled this year and he hopes to produce in a future season) and a new play by playwright-in-residence Jonathan Norton written specifically about life during pandemic lockdown. Norton's play, The Cake Ladies, stars Liz Mikel and Sally Nystuen Vahle as the title characters, two women who bake for a community theater in a small East Texas town where their production of the first part of Angels in America has been postponed due to the pandemic.
The play Tiny Beautiful Things, adapted by Nia Vardalos from the book by Cheryl Strayed, is the only non-Dickens, non-Shakespeare work that was previously set for the 2020-21 season. Full information with titles and dates will be announced in a few weeks, Moriarty says.
Mark Lowry conducted a Zoom interview with Moriarty to talk about future plans, the challenges of making theater during this time, making all of the plays available online, Norton's play, and continuing work with his staff, none of whom were laid off after the pandemic began. He discusses hopes for bringing back the plays canceled this year, including the world premiere of Don X. Nguyen's The Supreme Leader and the Goodman Theatre co-production American Mariachi (which closed after final dress, but was filmed and streamed). Another topic in this discussion is the just-announced "extended intermission" for Brierley Resident Acting Company member Ace Anderson, who is relocating to California.
The final discussion is about his response to the Black Lives Matter protests and We See You, White American Theatre and how DTC plans to meet the demands outlined in that document. (That conversation starts at about 51:00)
"Some of those policies we're doing, some of the policies we have in place but are honestly only half doing, and some of those policies are definitely not in place at Dallas Theater Center," he says. "So we are working our way through every single line of that document, and my goal is that we adopt all of those policies and that we live up to those every second that we can."
Watch the full, hourlong conversation below.