Dallas — To celebrate two decades of the Festival of Independent Theatres, the organization has launched a #MyFITStory campaign, and is highlighting the 20 Faces of FIT. These are 20 people, or groupings of people, who have made a significant impact on the festival—as the festival has had on them. Each made a video focused on their FIT story at a media day event on June 5.
TheaterJones is showcasing one of the Faces each day through the beginning of the festival, which runs July 13 to Aug. 4 at the Bath House Cultural Center. The videos were shot by FIT.
Next up: The New Faces of FIT.
In its 20 years, the Festival of Independent Theatres has introduced many new groups to the DFW theater scene, such as The Drama Club and Cara Mía Theatre. Some of these new groups stuck around for a few shows and then left to focus on the rest of their season; a few of them only had one FIT show; and of course others are still involved in FIT, or at least producing at the Bath House Cultural Center.
Half of this year's FIT groups are first timers in the festival, even if some of the artists have been involved before. In the video above, representatives from three of the groups talk about the importance of being accepted into FIT.
Isaac Young (the guy with the beard in the video) and Jenna Richanne Hannum (in the red shirt) are with Eccentric Bear Productions, which presents The Book of Gabe, written by and starring Young and directed by Hannum. You've seen Butler perform in several of the groups that have sprung up by SMU grads in recent years, including House Party Theatre and Shakespeare in the Bar, as well as at Theatre Three and elsewhere. He wrote and performs in this one-man show, about the angel Gabriel who comes to earth and isn't sure about what he finds. Hannum has been involved with Second Thought Theatre's Hillary and Clinton and recently served as assistant director for Hir at Stage West.
Eccentric Bear has been planned for years, Butler says. "I've wanted a company that is specifically devoted to development of new works, providing a space for artists and writers to create."
Next is Andi Allen (in the blue top) and Gerald Taylor (directly behind her) of Camp Death Productions, which has been around for a few years but makes its FIT debut with Ben Schroth's The Tragical Farce of Jimmy Pine. Allen is not new to FIT, having been a fixture on stages and behind the scenes for years. She directs the play, which stars Taylor, who is brand new to FIT, in the title role. It's described as "Pinocchio meets Blade Runner."
"It's campy and sci-fi, but it's also a story of love and self-identity and finding your place in the world," says Taylor.
The guy in the black shirt is Dick Monday, who you might know as one-half of the team behind NY Goofs, or as clowns Slappy and Monday (Slappy is his wife, Tiffany Riley). They also run the program Funniatrics, which uses clowning as a therapy tool with patients at Children's Medical Center. Laughter League is now the umbrella organization for all of that. Its first FIT show is Where Do I Sit?, which was written and is performed by Monday.
Inspired by Ionesco's The Chairs, Monday says he wrote this show "from my desire to fight off doing gags and schtick in the clown world, and to tell my fears of continuing after 43 years of clowning."
The fourth new group is Imprint Theatreworks, not represented in the video above.
Look for interviews with artists involved in each of the eight FIT shows coming on TheaterJones.
» The shows in the 2018 Festival of Independent Theatres and a grid schedule are below. You can read descriptions and see a full schedule here.
Camp Death Productions: The Tragical Farce of Jimmy Pine by Ben Schroth
Danielle Georgiou Dance Group: Just Girly Things by Danielle Georgiou, Justin Locklear, Ruben Carrazana, Trey Pendergrass and Cory Kosel
Eccentric Bear Productions: The Book of Gabe by Isaac Young
Echo Theatre: Bible Women by Elizabeth Swados and Vicki Caroline Cheatwood
Imprint Theatreworks: Suckers by Devin Berg
Laughter League: Where Do I Sit? by Dick Monday
Prism Movement Theater: BruNO and lOUIe by Jeffrey Colangelo
WingSpan Theatre Company: Landscape by Harold Pinter
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