Dallas — The lineup for 17th Festival of Independent Theatres has been announced, and what's interesting about this year's crop is that six of the eight groups are new to FIT, although some of those have familiar names attached. FIT runs July 10-Aug. 1, 2015, at the Bath House Cultural Center.
One returning company is WingSpan Theatre Company, which is the only group that has had a presence every year in FIT—and has also been the most consistent in quality. This year it has Shoe Confessions, which was seen in a reading in April. The other is Upstart Productions, which presents the one-man show Sick Fuck, starring Joey Folsom.
Of the newcomers, the In-Laws is a new-to-Dallas group with Austin roots, and local favorite Michael Federico is involved; and Gorilla Theatre is a new outfit from Angela Wilson (of the defunct Theatre Quorum) and Bert Pigg of Dallas Children's Theater. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Colangelo of PrismCo. has a new show under the umbrella of SCDallas (Stage Combat Dallas).
CrossOver Arts and Circus Freaks have been in North Texas for a while, but each makes their FIT debut this year, as does dance-theater group DGDG (Danielle Georgiou Dance Group), which responds to its 2014 hit NICE with The Show About Men.
Apparently there were more submissions than ever to FIT, but the absence of FIT favorites like Echo Theatre, Churchmouse Productions and One Thirty Productions suggests that the tide is shifting toward newer groups. (Or maybe those organizations didn't have the time for, or interest in, FIT this year.) Hopefully this will inject some new energy into the event, which has been on the mediocre side for the past few years, with a few notable exceptions.
Here's the official FIT release:
A robust and vibrant independent theatre community will be on full display in one of the most diverse and intriguing programs ever produced in the 17year history of the Festival of Independent Theatres. A record number of submissions has given way to a variety filled lineup that includes plays, storytelling, historical drama, modern dance, circus acts, stage combat, a controversially titled one-man show and two special performance events: jazz musician Caleb Veazey in a tribute to the legends of Dallas jazz and Kathryn Taylor Rose in a cabaret about the pitfalls of millennial dating entitled Love Me Tinder.
Opening Night sees dance guru Danielle Georgiou examine the opposite sex in DGDG's The Show About Men alongside DeSoto's youth theatre, Crossover Arts, with Dangerous Things on Dark Nights from the surprisingly mature pen of 17-year-old playwright Naomi Cohen.
Continuing with the theme of artistic diversity, FIT founding member WingSpan Theatre Company returns with Shoe Confessions by Cynthia Salzman Mondell. This precursor to her documentary film Sole Sisters shares the inspirational stories of several real life women and their personal connection to the world's most popular accessory. On the other end of the spectrum, fellow returnee Upstart Productions presents Sick F**k, a raw and searing portrait of one young man's struggle with both the potential of death and the certainty of disillusionment, starring award winning leading man Joey Folsom.
A healthy dose of excitement and adventure is in store as first time participants the Circus Freaks blend circus performance with theatre in the haunting dreamscape Playthings, while Jeffrey Colangelo, the mastermind behind Prism, Co. offers Renaissance Fighters - an elaborate extravaganza of first rate fight choreography presented by the stage combat masters at SCDallas.
Finally, two of the Dallas areas' newest companies make their FIT debuts: The In-Laws, fronted by former Austin-ites Spencer Driggers and Zenobia Taylor alongside Dallas stalwart Michael Federico, present The Decline of Ballooning by late SMU alum Brian Torrey Smith, while Bert Pigg (of the Dallas Children's Theater) joins forces with Angela Wilson (of Theatre Quorum) to answer one of the greatest riddles of both literature and religion in Gorilla Theatre's production of And the Stones Will Cry Out.
Sponsored by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the 17th annual Festival of Independent Theatres runs from July 10 through Aug. 1 at the Bath House Cultural Center. Contact The Festival of Independent Theatres at 800-617-6904 for more information. Festival passes and individual tickets on sale June 15. A brief description of each of this year’s productions follows:
Circus Freaks – Playthings
The Circus Freaks have escaped from the Big Top and are bringing fresh life to time honored traditions in this narrative-driven circus show about a world famous doll-maker and the sacrifices he must make to bring his mysterious creations to life. A toymaker's twist on the Frankenstein myth, featuring dazzling displays of daring acrobatics. Come one. Come all!
Crossover Arts - Dangerous Things on Dark Nights by Naomi Cohen
17 year-old playwright Naomi Cohen delivers chilling suspense in this taut and tragic mystery about three young girls who, facing unimaginable catastrophe, must make a difficult decision about moving forward in the face of grief.
DGDG – The Show About Men
Modern dance troupe DGDG brings vibrant choreography, subversive wit and a playful spirit to each of their conceptual events, which seamlessly blend music, movement and text to illustrate a host of contemporary psychological, social and gender issues.
Gorilla Theatre – And the Stones Will Cry Out by David M. Graham
Underscored by a quest for true enlightenment, this fascinating cryptogram probes both the science and spirituality surrounding the world's rarest and most controversial book, The Wurzberg Lithography.
The In-Laws - Decline of Ballooning by Brian Torrey Smith
A ghost-narrated, musical love story about two hopelessly confused scientists caught in a geomantic web of intrigue, which uses devised movement to illustrate the ways in which aerial photography mirrors our own emotional topography.
SCDallas - Renaissance Fighters by Jeffrey Colangelo
Witness a battle for the ages as two effete Renaissance men duel for the affections of their fair love, Rosalind. An extravaganza of stunning fight choreography, epic swordplay and rapier wit from the creative mind of Jeffery Colangelo and SCDallas.
Upstart Productions - Sick F**k by Paul Shoulberg
Navigating a lifetime of resentment, regret and heartache, the spirit of a terminal cancer patient attempts to find redemption through the jokes of a demented stand-up comic in a remarkably tiny t-shirt.
WingSpan Theatre Company - Shoe Confessions by Cynthia Salzman Mondell
Highlighted by a musical rhythm, this fashionable tale follows the misunderstood and rarely recognized journey of shoes. Shown from perspectives as diverse as the accessory itself, this new work by Cynthia Saltzman Mondell tells the real life stories of several "sole sisters" in the theatrical precursor to her upcoming documentary film.