WingSpan Theatre Company\'s Susan Sargeant

FIT 2012 Announced

Lineup for the 14th annual Festival of Independent Theatres includes the return of Melissa Cooper and Beverly Daniel, plus Edward Albee and more.

published Wednesday, April 18, 2012
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It's probably not for the first time, this year's Festival of Independent Theatres is all about women, which makes sense considering the two groups who have participated in FIT the longest, WingSpan Theatre and Echo Theatre—with the former being the only group to have performed every yearare women-centric.

Women playwrights, directors and characters dominate FIT 14.

These include Melissa Cooper, wife of former Dallas Theater Center artistic director Richard Hamburger, whose play NYC Coyote Existential will be produced by Echo Theatre; the one-woman show My Name is Rachel Corrie, adapted by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner and presented by Rite of Passage Theatre; and Patricia Bosworth, whose play Making Contact will be staged by One Thirty Productions.

Other notables this year: Justin Locklear will make his playwriting debut with I Met You and I Screamed, about "two young women who have learned to reject love," presented by Upstart Productions; and an entry from New Horizons Theatre, with Beverly Daniel's Conversations with God and Other Women I've Known. Daniels started New Horizons in the '90s, and it was the group that Susan Sargeant worked with until she founded WingSpan Theatre Company.

Speaking of WingSpan, Sargeant will direct her fifth Edward Albee title for her own company, his 1976 play Counting the Ways. WingSpan has previously done Marriage Play, The Play About the Baby, The American Dream and The Sandbox. (She also has directed Seascape and Three Tall Women for Fort Worth's Circle Theatre.)

FIT 2012 also features Churchmouse Productions (the non-Black and White arm of Pegasus Theatre) and FTP Comedy.

Here's the news release, followed by the theaters, their shows and descriptions. The Festival of Independent Theatres runs July 13-Aug. 4 at the Bath House Cultural Center on the shores of White Rock Lake.

Tradition meets innovation in the line-up for the 14th annual Festival of Independent Theatres coming to the Bath House Cultural Center this July. The popular four week theatre festival (sponsored by Performing Arts Initiative in association with the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs) offers adventurous summer art-seekers the rare opportunity to catch celebrated established plays next to new works by Dallas’ hottest up and coming artists.

Anchoring the festival for the fourteenth consecutive time is FIT founding member WingSpan Theatre Company.  WingSpan Artistic Director Susan Sargeant, known for her definitive productions of American classics, brings her unique touch to Edward Albee’s Counting the Ways starring FIT favorites Lulu Ward and Adrian Churchill.

Melissa Cooper makes her return to the Dallas stage with NYC Coyote Existential, a daring new performance art piece about the delicate balance between humans and the animals, produced by Echo Theatre. The home of the female theatrical voice in Dallas makes their thirteenth appearance at FIT.  

Rite of Passage Theatre Company, responsible for last-season’s light hearted and much-heralded Love Song of the Albanian Sous Chef, takes a decidedly dramatic turn with My Name is Rachel Corrie, the emotionally compelling real-life account of a young woman’s journey of self-discovery and the powerful message that is the legacy of her activism. Up and coming local actress Barrett Nash stars as Rachel Corrie in this one woman show; adapted from Rachel’s journals by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner for the Court Theatre.

Regional multi-hyphenate Justin Locklear makes his Dallas debut as a playwright with Upstart Productions’ premier of I Met You and I Screamed and Bath House resident troupe One-Thirty Productions returns with Making Contact starring frequent One-Thirty collaborator Gene Raye Price. Also making return appearances are Pegasus Theatre’s Churchmouse Productions and the recently resurrected New Horizons Theatre Company. New to this year’s festival are renowned sketch group, FTP Comedy with a short-form improv show centering on the upcoming Mayan Apocalypse.

The fourteenth annual Festival of Independent Theatres will run July 13th through August 4th, 2012 at the Bath House Cultural Center on historic White Rock Lake. This year’s festival will also include the return of FIT Underground, live music and café style refreshments on the shore level of the Bath House Cultural Center as well as Fictional III, a curated art exhibit in the Bath House gallery, featuring works by local artists commissioned to reflect the titles and themes of this year’s festival shows. 

Visit or find us on Facebook for more information. Box office opens in late June. For ticketing information or to reach the Performing Arts Initiative administrative offices, contact us at 1-800-617-6904. A brief description of each of the shows follows.

2012 Festival of Independent Theatres – About the Plays

Churchmouse Productions – Dead of Night by Kurt Kleinmann – A man is awakened by a bump in the night only to discover a perilous mystery playing out before his eyes,  Shocked to find himself covered in blood, the man is plunged into a taught and suspenseful thriller that blurs the lines between reality and an indistinguishable nightmare.

Echo Theatre – NYC Coyote Existential by Melissa Cooper – Inspired by a chance encounter with an urban coyote, Melissa Cooper explores the American migration of both coyotes and humans in this innovative performance art piece that blends theatre, storytelling, music and science. Directed by Pam Myer’s Morgan this examination of both community and ecosystem, possesses locally resonating themes applicable to Dallas’ own White Rock Lake.

FTP Comedy – 2012: The Last Comedy Show - The Mayans foretold it, even before the snuggie. It’s the end of the world as we know it. Hunker down with FTP Comedy in the Bath House bomb shelter as we prepare for the end times. Stockpiling enough cans of nutritious laughter to last, at least through the night, join FTP Comedy for an apocalyptic blend of sketch and improv. It’s the last chance you will ever have. We’d extend it if we could.

New Horizons Theatre – Conversations with God and Other Women I’ve Known by Beverly Daniel – Part small-town Southern comedy, part compelling emotional character study; three Texas women, each very different from the other, are inspired by the movie and book Eat, Pray, Love to examine their own religious beliefs and to share a spiritual journey culminating in a wild adventure to New York City.

One Thirty Productions – Making Contact by Patricia Bosworth - A fortuitous meeting between a recently widowed novelist and the photographer who has come to take her picture is the jumping off point for this bright and captivating story about a woman, grieving and overwhelmed by life, and the man whose observant lens forces her to confront, not only her profound sense of loss, but her unfulfilled passion, as well. Morgana Shaw directs and One Thirty’s Gene Raye Price stars.

Rite of Passage Theatre Company – My Name is Rachel Corrie adapted by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner –A young woman, struggling to find her voice in an increasingly violent world, Rachel’s passion and politics place her in the middle of the world’s oldest and most controversial conflict, but her enduring message of tolerance and understanding stands as a testament to the transformative power of activism. Barrett Nash stars as Rachel in this one-woman play directed by Clay Wheeler.

Upstart Productions – I Met You and I Screamed by Justin Locklear – An exploration of the relationship between Grace and Megan, two young women who have learned to reject love, I Met You and I Screamed is a multi-disciplined piece that weaves between reality and surrealism while exploring the complexities of human relationships and what it means to truly “let someone in.”  Upstart’s production blends original live music, modern dance, photography, and art in this Dallas playwriting debut by Justin Locklear.

WingSpan Theatre Company – Counting the Ways by Edward Albee – “He” and “She” are a well-bred, upper-middle class Punch and Judy conducting an inquiry into the human heart. Long married, but aware of what time has wrought in their relationship, the two spar and thrust at each other in exchanges that are lighthearted, poignant and occasionally even brutal. Susan Sargent directs Lulu Ward and Adrian Churchill in Albee’s razor-sharp vaudeville about love, marriage, fidelity and change. Thanks For Reading


Pat Powell writes:
Saturday, July 21 at 7:57PM

I just came from watching "NYC Coyote Existential". Very nice. Very thoughtful. I liked the actors who played the roles. The coyote did a fine job--very spunky and believeable. I liked the way the two lives were woven together. The part about what happened to the coyote at the end was delivered a little too fast. I think it should have been slowed down some. Overall grade = 95 percent

Then I had to suffer through watching the massacre called Last Comedy 2012. Not funny. Poorly delivered. Over acted. Just painful to watch. Who ever thought to put these two pieces should think again. Overall grade for Last Comedy = 33 percent F

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FIT 2012 Announced
Lineup for the 14th annual Festival of Independent Theatres includes the return of Melissa Cooper and Beverly Daniel, plus Edward Albee and more.
by Mark Lowry

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