Dallas — What does a newish small theater company do after a lauded three-show season? If you’re Jason Leyva of L.I.P. Service, you expand the season…to eight productions.
Crazy ambitious? Maybe. Or you just haven’t met Leyva, who received the most critical acclaim in his company’s history for his outstanding performance in Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale in October.
In 2015, the three shows were all at the Firehouse Theatre in Carrollton, where Leyva is contracted for tech work and occasionally directs, such as with their upcoming Steel Magnolias.
In 2016, there will be four “mainstage” productions at various locations, including the Firehouse, the Rudy Seppy Rehearsal Studio in Irving, and a TBA venue in Fort Worth, where Leyva is based and where the group’s first productions were produced four years ago. The other "studio" shows will be smaller, travelling productions, he says, with locations to be announced, and his goal is to take them to festivals in other cities such as Austin or Tulsa.
“This season we have opened up an invitation to our future endeavors,” Leyva says. “I feel we have enough support and enough players to support our projects. Having the right people is what allowed me the peace of mind to double our projects.”
The mainstage season is:
Laughing Wild, Christopher Durang’s 1987 darkly humorous study of the “perils of modern American life” as seen through the eyes of two quirky characters, one man, one woman. March 10-26, 2016 at the Firehouse Theatre. Directed by Aracelli Radillo Bowling. “Debuting this season as a L.I.P. Service director feels like jumping out of an airplane, there's so much support on the ground and you know it'll be great if you can find it in yourself to make the leap. I'm beyond honored to have been given this chance to grow within the company,” says Bowling.
The Goat or Who is Sylvia? by Edward Albee, directed by Shawn Gann. May dates, location TBD. “I’m ecstatic that L.I.P. Service has me helming The Goat; my infatuation with Albee and this work goes way back,” says Gann.
Trainspotting, adapted from the Irvine Welsh novel by Harry Gibson, The 1996 black comedy crime drama film version directed by Danny Boyle inspired a major cult following. August 4-20, 2016 at the Rudy Seppy Rehearsal Studio. Directed by Ryan Matthieu Smith. “With Trainspotting, our hope is to tap Irvine Welsh's narcotic nightmare directly into the audience's bloodstream. The tale isn't classic nor is it trying to tell you to live better lives. It's vile, sweaty, and darkly humorous, like life...choose it!” says Smith.
The Elephant Man, Bernard Pomerance’s 1977 Tony Award-winning classic based on the real life of John Merrick as the star attraction of a 19th-century freak show. Sept. 29-Oct. 15, 2016 at the Firehouse Theatre. Directed by Gann, featuring Jason Leyva and Pat Watson. “To direct for L.I.P. Service is a testament to the trust and rapport I've developed with Jason Leyva in our short time together. Exciting that Jason Leyva will entrust himself, as an actor, to me in The Elephant Man. We're going all-in with our efforts in an attempt to move hearts, open minds, and inspire more love for challenging art,” says Gann.
L.I.P. Service will also present a Studio Series in 2016, dates and venues TBD, an exclusive for season ticket holders: “Full engagement by audiences and collective artists should inform this series; development merits focus as much as finished production,” says Leyva.
Multi-casting and directors appear in rotating workshop format for Bash by Neil Labute; One for the Road by Harold Pinter; Tommy Cain by Van Quattro, a developmental work to be presented in short story and staged reading format, featuring Zachary Leyva; and The Good Thief by Conor McPherson, directed by CriticalRant critic Alexandra Bonifield, featuring R. Andrew Aguilar.
When I pointed out that all of these plays are by men—if L.I.P. Service were a bigger, more established theater, Leyva would receive flack for the lack of women writers with that many shows—he said “the scripts and projects that are being brought to me happened to all be by male writers; we have two female directors this year and I would love to have more. I would love to have a female component more prominently pushed, not only for our theater and theater in general.”
Just putting that out there for 2017, L.I.P. Service peeps.
He is confident that he can pull off this ambitious season.
“It’s about getting in there so deep you don’t have an option but to come through,” he says. “We want to continue giving [our company members] opportunities. That’s how you get the experience.”
Season tickets are available for a discounted rate of $50 on the website at www.lipserviceproductions.info.