TeCo Theatrical Productions at the Bishop Arts Center in Oak Cliff takes prides in advocating for the arts and involving its diverse community on multiple levels of programming.
An exemplary instance of this advocacy and involvement is its annual New Play Competition. Local playwrights, ranging from established professionals to aspiring novice writers, get the chance to see their one-act works presented in full stage production; one wins a substantial cash prize. 2012 marks the 10th year of the annual competition. To commemorate the decade of original creativity, each year's winner was invited to submit a new work for a "Best of the Best" in 2012.
TeCo's reading committee selected six very different plays for the competition, each entertaining and clearly written. The performance competition runs through March 4; get involved by attending a performance and voting for your favorite. Help a worthy playwright win a hard-earned prize, and support this dedicated non-profit organization.
Blacken Blues Theater Company's founder and director Willie Holmes presents and directs The Exit Strategy, a curious drama with intriguing, complex characters. One act from the prolific Mr. Holmes serves to whet the appetite for much more.
Playwright Laterras R. Whitfield, performing with his elegant daughter LaTerria, presents a quirky dad/daughter bonding piece called Puberty, addressing the subject of a teen's onset of menstruation with candid humor and genuine emotion. An unusual subject but handled with dignity and common sense. A family affair, Lisa B. Whitfield directs.
Paula J. Sanders' The Agony and the Ecstasy carries the audience on a tight emotional journey. JuNene K employs her clear directorial vision and follows Sanders' strong dramatic character arc with her ensemble, including Nik Hobson, Whitney Tucker and Rodney Miller. Can't miss Sanders' flair for thrilling drama.
2008 contest winner Seneca Wills' Purgatory, directed by Cynthia Reed Wills, represents the farce genre for this year's competition. This broad, zany send-up plays on the sins of celebrities like Herman Cain and Tiger Woods, amusing the audience with the fallen heroes' dismay when confronted with the reality of their "destination" by the business-like, angelic "judge" played by Rachelle Wilson.
JuNene K stars in the 2011 competition winner Jonathan Norton's fantasy monologue Everybody's Got A Little Light. Norton creates a vibrant world full of real but invisible characters (and aliens) through the eyes of a solitary, worldly wise girl, demonstrating clearly why his distinctively voiced plays have been earning him fellowships and distinguished playwright conference awards at the national and regional level.
All six one-acts open with an upstage screen projection introduction, but Southern Methodist University film school graduate and 8th Annual Competition winner Philip Morales integrates film and stage action in a natural flow in Untitled: Or How to Trip The Light Fantastic that creates a valid meta-theatrical experience.
The audience gets drawn into the engaging storyline of floundering romance while observing it at a craft level as the two actors portraying lovers debate the value of the script they are rehearsing with the romance's adamant director, played with a believable mix of ego and anguish by Joe Chapa. Snappy, contemporary dialogue whips along in short, cinematic cuts, still allowing the one-act's theme of love's potential to emerge, distilled and pure, as the play concludes. Morales' understanding and mastery of both art forms, film and stage, is abundantly evident.
Whose play did I vote for? I'll never tell, not for love nor money. Express your opinion! TeCo welcomes the community's support in celebrating this decade's worth of creativity.
◊ You can also read this review on the author's blog, CriticalRant, which is a TheaterJones media partner.