Dallas — Hard to believe it has been 20 years, but that is indeed the anniversary that the Festival of Independent Theatres celebrates this year, running July 13-Aug. 4 at the city-operated Bath House Cultural Center, FIT’s home since the beginning.
The scrappy summer festival started in 1999 from an idea by David Fisher. He wanted to have a place for small companies without a permanent home to produce work that might not make it into the theater’s main season. Six groups participated: Echo Theatre, Wingspan Theatre Company, Core Performance Manufactory, Beardsley Living Theatre, Wickerplane Productions and Bucket Productions.
In the two decades since, many companies have come and gone. Echo and WingSpan are the only two FIT regulars; WingSpan has been in FIT every year, and Echo has only missed two. Some companies only had one FIT show and then disappeared. Others, such as Cara Mía Theatre Company and the Drama Club, launched at FIT (or at the Bath House) and went on to bigger things. Bucket became Rover Dramawerks.
For the 20th anniversary, producer David Meglino—celebrating his 10th year in that role—with help from local producer/marketer extraordinaire Bren Rapp, have put together a 20 Faces of FIT campaign, launching today with the video above.
The 20 Faces of FIT include artistic directors, directors and performers who have had an impact on FIT’s history. Some of them were only involved in one show, such as Denise Lee in Echo Theatre’s Bible Women (which will be revived this year) and Sherry Jo Ward in last year’s remarkable Stiff. Some artists, including Ben Bryant, Whitney Holotik, Barrett Nash, and Jeff Swearingen, credit FIT with launching their theater careers in Dallas. Swearingen, Bryant and Lulu Ward hold the records for most FIT appearances onstage, while local playwright Isabella Russell-Ides has had three plays premiere at FIT, by Echo and WingSpan.
Between now and the start of the festival, TheaterJones will premiere a video interview with 20 #MyFITStory videos, some of which you can see in the compliation video above. All of these, and more, will be in our FIT 2018 special section. In the next six weeks, we’ll also have interviews with this year’s artists, and, as usual, reviews of all eight productions.
This year’s line-up has four returning companies (WingSpan, Echo, Prism Movement Theater and Danielle Georgiou Dance Group), three that have been around but are making their FIT debuts (Camp Death Productions, Imprint Theatreworks and the Laughter League, which is a rebranding of NY Goofs Dick Monday and Tiffany Riley), and one brand new group that marks its first production with FIT, Eccentric Bear Productions, the brainchild of Isaac Young. Seven of these shows are by local playwrights/collaborators, the outlier being Harold Pinter's Landscape, produced by WingSpan.
In addition to the eight mainstage productions, the festival also includes the art exhibition “Revived with Light: An Exploration of Expired Photographic Media,” as well as a variety of live music presented on selected weekend afternoons in the Bath House art gallery, and FIT Underground, in which live music and light refreshments are available weekend evenings in the Bath House’s shore-level performance space.
Below this photo are the groups in FIT 2018, their shows and descriptions.
Camp Death Productions
By Ben Schroth
A bleak, dystopian retelling of the classic Pinocchio tale, Camp Death, known for their late-night horror movie spoofs at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, promise a production that is provocative, compelling and full of the off-beat, wicked sense of humor that has made Ben Schroth one of DFW’s most popular local playwrights.
Danielle Georgiou Dance Group
Just Girly Things
By Danielle Georgiou, Justin Locklear, Ruben Carrazana, Trey Pendergrass and Cory Kosel
Danielle Georgiou brings her distinct movement style back to FIT for a second piece exploring gender relations. Backing up her 2015 FIT hit, The Show About Men, this year’s entry focusses on the stories of and struggles faced by women. DGDG promises toe-tapping music, side splitting humor and more than a healthy dose of thoughtful introspection in this season’s Just Girly Things.
Eccentric Bear Productions
The Book of Gabe
By Isaac Young
Eccentric Bear makes its local debut with this irreverent, yet thoughtful piece about God’s favorite archangel. Local clowning talent Isaac Young brings a fresh perspective and an impeccable performance ability to this wry and witty treasure that upends everything you thought you knew about religion.
By Elizabeth Swados and Vicki Caroline Cheatwood
A haunting and thoughtful song cycle that takes the most interesting characters from some of the greatest stories ever told and spins them afresh for modern audiences. Making a return appearance by popular demand, this year’s production of Bible Women features new and improved material and will be headlined by local cabaret diva Denise Lee.
By Devin Berg
Wrath turns to empathy turns to desire turns to love in this in this brutal comedy about friendship, fate, and the tendency of life to pass us by. A fast-paced, contemporary look at the danger of complacency and the beautiful imperfection of life.
Where Do I Sit?
By Dick Monday
Dick Monday and Tiffany Riley (of NY Goofs fame) bring a healthy dose of laughter and merriment to this year’s festival with the delightful clowning story, Where Do I Sit? Armed with decades of clowning experience from performances around the world, seeing these masters of their craft in action will be a treat, not to be missed.
Prism Movement Theater
BruNO and lOUIe
By Jeffrey Colangelo
A rollicking fantasy about two mimes who want to become famous, BruNO and lOUIe turns traditional clowning on its head with this creatively stylized production that promises to make something from nothing. A fun-filled romp sure to entertain and delight with its playful look into the power of imagination.
WingSpan Theatre Company
by Harold Pinter
Somewhere between here and elsewhere Beth and Duff are battling the shifting sands of time and trying to repair their estranged relationship. Bit by bit this haunting duet unfolds the mysteries of their shared past and asks if it’s possible for the two lovers to bridge the physical and emotional chasm between them.
The 20th Festival of Independent Theatres
July 13- August 4, 2018
Bath House Cultural Center,
521 E. Lawther Drive, Dallas
Tickets and passes go on sale in late June
Call 800-617-6904 or visit www.festivalofindependenttheatres.org