Dallas — I can't think of a North Texas theater company that emerged in the past, say, six or seven years, that has been as successful in its inaugural season as Imprint Theatreworks. Co-artistic directors Joe Messina and Ashley H. White, and a bunch of their friends, announced IT's second season with a performance shindig Monday at Stomping Ground Comedy Theater in the Dallas Design District.
The 2019 season, dubbed "Mercury Rising" and big on women's voices, is anchored with four main productions, two of them regional premieres: Leah Nanako Winkler’s play Kentucky and a rock opera about Lizzie Borden, called Lizzie (not to be confused with the other Lizzie Borden musical done by Ohlook Performing Arts in 2014). The season opens with Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room (Or the Vibrator Play), which hasn’t had a pro production here since Kitchen Dog Theater did it in 2011; and has the first locally produced production of Dave Malloy’s exquisite song cycle Ghost Quartet, a small tour of which was on the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s 2016 Off-Broadway on Flora series (with Malloy and his ensemble performing at LIFE in Deep Ellum).
The season also brings back the First Impressions Festival, with staged readings of new works by local writers; and takes it a step further later in the season with First Impressions Mainstage, in which three plays from the first and second festivals will be chosen for fully staged productions.
“It speaks bold stories of self-discovery and awakening,” says co-artistic director Ashley H. White about the 2019 season. “It weeps when we wrong our loved ones. It laughs as we are forced to turn the mirror on ourselves. It screams when it’s pushed too far. It has a voice that is loud and clear and that voice is saying: you are your own before you are anyone else’s.”
“Our second season gives the microphone to women and it demands we are heard,” she says.
Co-Artistic Director Joe Messina adds: “We took a journey with our audiences around the globe and time through re-imagined classics by acclaimed masters, regional premieres by well-known artists and new works by local playwrights.”
Below is the full season with descriptions, dates and, in some cases, venues. For tickets and more info, visit https://imprinttheatreworks.org.
White and Messina also write a monthly column on TheaterJones called Square One, in which they chronicle the process of starting a new theater company. You can read the latest edition, from July, here. It links to the previous installments.
In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)
by Sarah Ruhl
January 11-26, 2019
Bath House Cultural Center, Dallas
Directed by Marianne Galloway
A comedy about intimacy, awakening, and most importantly…equality. Set in the 1880s at the dawn of the age of electricity and based on the bizarre historical fact that doctors used “devices” to treat women for imagined hysteria. The play centers on a doctor and his wife and how his new therapy affects their entire household. Don’t miss this entertaining work of self-discovery which shows that human connection is not simply a means to an end, but a vital part of life itself. This modern masterpiece was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
2nd Annual First Impressions Festival for Local Playwrights
February 20-23, 2019
At the Bath House Cultural Center
Local Playwrights will return to IMPRINT next year! Over one week in February, they will have their works read and enjoyed by audiences, directors, and producers alike. The festival will also feature panels, talk-back sessions, cocktail hours, and networking opportunities geared toward providing awareness, opportunities, and support for those playwrights we have right here at home. We will begin accepting submissions this fall.
A musical song cycle written and composed by Dave Malloy
May 24 – June 8, 2019
Directed by Ashley H. White
Musical Direction by Adam C. Wright
Bath House Cultural Center
From the creator of the recent Broadway musical sensation, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 comes a fully-immersive song cycle about love, death, and whiskey. Four friends drink and tell interwoven narratives spanning seven centuries, following Rose Read and Pearl White, who repeatedly cross paths, sometimes as strangers, sometimes as sisters, sometimes as lovers, sometimes as mother and daughter, in an experience that questions love and defines forgiveness and regret. Audiences will be thrust into the multi-dimensional stories and unique melodies in this immersive setting where the actors play dozens of characters and instruments, and nothing is as it seems. A true piece of originality that should not be missed. Regional Premiere.
By Leah Nanako Winkler
August 2 - 17, 2019
Directed by Joe Messina
Assistant Direction by Christopher Lew
A biting comedy from a distinctive, new voice in theatre, Leah Nanako Winkler, recipient of the 2018 Yale Prize for Drama. Hiro is an Asian-American, self-made woman making it in New York. She is also estranged from her dysfunctional family in Kentucky. When her little sister, a born-again Christian, decides to marry at twenty-two, Hiro takes it upon herself to do whatever she can to stop the wedding and salvage any shred of hope she had for her sister’s future. The themes of identity, religion and love collide in this coming-of-age story with a kick, complete with a chorus, and a talking cat. Regional Premiere.
First Impressions Mainstage Showcase
September 13 – 27, 2019
Directors, Application Details, and Location TBA
Our mission to showcase local playwrights takes big step forward in our second season with Three Fully-Produced World Premieres by Local Playwrights! Three plays from the 2018 & 2019 First Impressions Festivals will be chosen to be mounted as full productions, with workshopping and development opportunities in between. In addition, we are launching our new Director Development Program, providing three new directors with opportunities to network with and be mentored by established Dallas Directors from various theatres (full list TBA), shadow rehearsals, workshop their chosen scripts, and ultimately direct their Dallas Debuts with each of these world premieres. Providing opportunity and exposure to these great local artists and new works furthers our mission and support for local playwrights and artists, while enhancing and engaging the community.
By Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Tim Maner, and Alan Stevens Hewitt
October 25 - November 9, 2019
Directed by Ashley H. White
Musical Direction by Rebecca Lowrey
“Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, gave her father forty-one.” This is the nursery rhyme that described the unspeakable crime that took the nation by storm when Lizzie Borden murdered her parents with an axe in 1892. Or did she? LIZZIE is a musical that reimagines that bloody legend with four women fronting a rock band and set to a blistering score with rage, sex, betrayal, and bloody, bloody murder. Regional Premiere.