And it’s a busy one that represents both a theater hitting its stride with new work and a recommitment to classical productions. The Dallas Theater Center, led by artistic director Kevin Moriarty, has a rapid-fire nine plays scheduled for nine months.
Of the seven that are part of the regular season, two are unique premieres: Stagger Lee, a musical written for the DTC by playwright-in-residence Will Power in collaboration with SMU and the Meadows Prize, and Colossal, a new play about a University of Texas football player that features a collaboration with the Bruce Wood Dance Project. The Wyly’s main performance space mimics the pageantry of a field, complete with astroturf, bleachers, and drum line.
Two of the nine plays are season extras—a production of Euripides’ Medea, and the holiday favorite A Christmas Carol. How is all this even possible? The theater center will use its second space, the Kalita Humphreys Theater, for four of these shows, which is more than normal, and resurrect the funky basement of the Kalita. Moriarty says that nobody’s done a play down there in years.
“In the earliest days of the theater center they used to do small plays down there the way we use the studio theater here and they would call it Down Center Stage. So we’re bringing back that term,” Moriarty says.
Medea will run in rotating repertory (which means you can see the productions at alternate times during the same week) with Molière’s School for Wives, directed by Moriarty and part of a new classical theater initiative that recalls the DTC’s four-year Shakespeare series. The series ended last year with King Lear.
“Suddenly that’s the season we just did—no classical work at all,” Moriarty says.
Despite a personal passion for classical texts—in part because writers like Euripides and Molière can stand for some jostling around—Moriarty had put those plays on the back burner.
“When I came here, the other things I care about—I love, love, musicals, I love new plays—it deeply mattered to me that we right away start doing some work that was more inclusive, that had some political ideas, that we’re going engage dialogue. And it just felt like there wasn’t room for it. And it was hard,” Moriarty says.
But now, tides have changed.
“I looked out at the community, and it’s striking me that in the last five or six years, the dallas theater community as a whole has embraced new work in a way that I couldn’t have imagined all those years ago,” Moriarty says. But now he says you can go a year without seeing one of the greats, such as Aeschylus, Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw, Pedro Calderón.
“So that feels like an opening, an opportunity, and frankly, a need,” Moriarty says.
As a result, you’ll see a fizzy clashing of iambic pentameter upstairs, and a veritable blood bath below. Other highlights from the announcement include a production of the classic Driving Miss Daisy, directed by DTC’s associate artist Joel Farrell and starring actor June Squibb fresh off her Oscar nomination for Nebraska. If you saw the DTC’s production of Dividing the Estate a few years ago, you’ll remember her well.
Here is the full release.