In 2019-20, new work by local dramatists and world premieres flourished on the stages in Dallas and Fort Worth. The season celebrated the complexities of family, science fiction, love and sexual orientation and the titans of history.
In Dallas, JONATHAN NORTON is one of the most productive playwrights in the American Theatre. The local dramatist and Playwright in Residence at the Dallas Theater Center celebrated two world premieres this season at Dallas venues. The writer’s first play of the season penny candy was directed by Derrick Sanders and produced by the Dallas Theater Center. The play penny candy revolves around a working-class family caught up in the devastation of the crack epidemic in the 1980s amidst the unpredictable pressures of poverty, gang violence and shifting loyalties throughout the community. A Love Offering is Jonathan Norton’s second play of the season. Produced by Kitchen Dog Theater and directed by co-artistic director Tina Parker, the play shows us how friendships in the workplace and family ties are strained in a nursing home. Norton dedicated the production of A Love Offering to the memory of Katherine Owens, who passed away during the season. Owens is the founding artistic director of Dallas’s Undermain Theatre and one of the most innovative theatre artists in the country.
In the fall, Undermain Theatre produced GORDON DAHLQUIST’s world premiere, Red Chariot. Dahlquist is known for his novels and experimental plays. Directed by Undermain Company Member Blake Hackler, Red Chariot is a science fiction thriller set amid the downfall of civilization, where a mysterious digital tarot card deck manipulates past, present and future, while threatening to go viral throughout the human population. In November, Undermain Theatre’s season progressed with the Dallas premiere of Larissa FastHorse’s comical satire, The Thanksgiving Play. Directed by Producing, Artistic Director Bruce DuBose, the play shows audiences the cultural dilemma inherent in the celebration of America’s Turkey Day and Native American heritage.
Cara Mia Theatre produced Swimming While Drowning by dramatist EMILIO RODRIGUEZ. The Dallas premiere was directed by Jorge B. Merced at the Latino Cultural Center. The play focuses on coming out and coming of age and the resilience of LGBTQ youth facing homelessness. Flexible Grey and Uptown Players collaborated on the production of Alexandrew Recore’s romantic comedy Cooties in Dallas’ annual Gay History Month Series. Directed by Olivia Grace Murphy, Recore’s romantic comedy explores millennial raunchiness, while snickering at the good, the bad and the awkward aspects of sex and love.
In Fort Worth, Amphibian Stage Productions celebrated their 20th Season with the world premiere of She-Wolf: The Story of Margaret of Anjou adapted by Stephan Wolfert and Dawn Stern from Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3 and Richard III. Stephan Wolfert is best known for his award-winning play Cry Havoc! Directed by Wolfert, this adaptation took more than a decade and brings to the stage the story of a woman who led military forces and challenged the norms of her era. Local playwrights STRATON RUSHING and James Kazen’s production of Douglas: The Play was produced in the fourth annual Fringe Festival at the collection of theatres in the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. In addition, playwright and local journalist DAVE LIEBER’s production of AMON! The Ultimate Texan opened at the Artisan Center Theater. Amon Carter is a larger than life media giant with an eighth-grade education, who influenced the economic development of Fort Worth. Just north of Dallas, CAROL M. RICE’s Sharing the Stage is Murder was produced by Rover Dramawerks in Plano, Texas. Directed by Molly Bower, Rice creates a collision between an English drawing room comedy, an American sex farce and a play about Chicago mobsters all in one surreal mystery.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were two postponed or canceled productions this season in the region by local dramatists. First, The Elevator Project supported production of Playwrights in the Newsroom written and performed by Brigham Mosley and Janielle Kastner. The immersive, theatrical experience is orchestrated by two theatre-makers who spend hours shadowing The Dallas Morning News. The play was scheduled to open at Dallas Theater Center’s Wyly Studio Theatre. And second, Dramatists Guild member MARILYN MILLSTONE’s new work Proprioception was scheduled to open at Rover Dramawerks. Directed by Carol M. Rice, the AACT New Play Fest 2020 winning play has been postponed and is scheduled to open in October 2020.