Dallas — An initiative by Dallas Theater Center to bring the arts to underserved areas of the city, called Public Works Dallas, will launch its inaugural production this spring. In partnership with Ignite/Arts at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and AT&T Performing Arts Center, and in affiliation with the NYC-based Public Theater, Dallas residents will take part in a massive production The Tempest. The 90-minute musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s play will feature a cast of hundreds, only five being professional actors. There will be four performances of the production in March at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre and all of the tickets will be free to the public.
The bulk of the cast will be made up of Dallas residents who have been taking part in Public Works Dallas programing with five community organizations: Bachman Lake Together, Vickery Meadow Learning Center, Dallas Parks and Recreation, Literacy Instruction for Texas, and Jubilee Park and Community Center. In December, auditions were held at the community centers. Rounding out the cast will be members of Rickie Rush's Living Sound Choir from Inspiring Body of Christ Church, the Townview High School Big D Drumline, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklórico, Northlake Children’s Chorus, Inner City All-Stars Brass Band, Mitotiliztli Yaoyollohtli Aztec Dancers and Dark Circles Contemporary Dance will take part. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas City Council Member Adam McGough, Dallas City Council Member Adam Medrano and “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham are set to make cameo appearances.
Rehearsals for the March production have begun at the Wyly. Public Works Dallas Director Dayron Miles says that every available space in the multi-story theater building is in use in order to accommodate the massive cast.
“The Tempest will bring together 200 people from across this great city to engage in meaningful dialogue and the joyful act of creating theater together,” said DTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty.
The Public Theater in New York’s founder Joe Papp brought theater to NYC audiences for free when Shakespeare in the Park was launched in the 1970’s. The theater’s Public Works program is aimed at taking this enhanced idea of community theater and community participation across the country. Dallas is the first city outside of New York to do this; Seattle Repertory Theatre is next.
The estimated half-million dollar production is fully funded, according to DTC. The contributing partners are providing financial support and in-kind contributions. In addition, money was raised through private and foundation donations.
"Public Works Dallas represents the aspiring spirit of this city to be more inclusive and collaborative, across a diverse array of institutions and citizens alike,” said Clyde Valentin with Ignite/Arts Dallas. “The power of theater—and the arts in general—is well positioned to foster these relationships in our city for years to come. The success of Public Works Dallas thus far exemplifies this fact.”
Public Works presented The Tempest in 2013 in New York, directed by Public Works Director Lear deBessonet, who was awarded the SMU Meadows Prize in 2015 to bring the program to Dallas. The production features adaptation, music, and new lyrics by Todd Almond and will be directed by DCT Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty.
Starring as Prospero is André De Shields (The Fortress of Solitude), a multiple Tony Award nominee best known for his performance in the title role of the 1975 Broadway production of The Wiz. Joining him are Diane and Hal Brierley Resident Acting Company Members Ace Anderson (A Christmas Carol 2016, All the Way, King Lear) as Trinculo; Liz Mikel (A Christmas Carol 2016, Bella: An American Tall Tale, Romeo and Juliet) as Ariel and Alex Organ (A Christmas Carol 2016, Constellations, Dreamgirls) as Caliban. Returning to the DTC stage is former Cara Mía Theatre Artistic Ensemble Member Rodney Garza (Deferred Action, Oedipus el Rey) as Stephano.
How to Get Tickets
The Tempest will run for four performances from Friday, March 3 to Sunday, March 5 at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets to The Tempest are FREE to the public and are available by phone at 214-880-0202. Tickets will also be available online Feb. 24 at www.DallasTheaterCenter.org
A mobile box office will be distributing tickets at Jubilee Park and Community Center (917 Bank St., Dallas, Texas) on Jan. 25 from 1 to 5 p.m.; Beckley Saner Recreation Center (114 W Hobson Ave., Dallas, Texas) on Feb. 1 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Vickery Meadow Learning Center (6329 Ridgecrest Rd., Dallas, Texas) on Feb. 8 from 4 to 7 p.m.; Bachman Lake Together Family Center (9507 Overlake Dr., Dallas, Texas) on Feb. 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Literacy Instruction for Texas (1610 Malcolm X Blvd., Dallas, Texas) on Feb. 23 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.