Coming Full Circle, Second Thought Theatre Returns to Turtle Creek

Eric Steele playwright_credit Elaine Liner.jpg
Elaine Liner
Playwright Eric Steele
For its eighth season, Second Thought Theatre, the small-ensemble company founded by Baylor grads, will move back to where it started -- or close to it. Second Thought is leaving the Addison Theatre Centre's black box studio and relocating to 75-seat Bryant Hall, across the parking lot from Kalita Humphreys Theater. Their first show in 2004 was produced in Frank's Place, the studio space above Kalita.

Co-artistic directors Steven Walters and Chris LaBove, working with their third partner, actor Drew Wall, will present three shows in Bryant Hall next year, starting with a new comedy by Walters premiering February 3.

Second Thought's five-show 2011 season (including two festival entries) stretched the company's resources, but they ended the year several thousand dollars in the black, says Walters. It was a rebuilding year for them, with Walters, who is also a company member at Dallas Theater Center, stepping back in as artistic director, actor and producer. He starred in Second Thought's one-man Thom Pain (based on nothing) and says they'll keep doing small-cast plays like that one and their well-reviewed three-hander Red Light Winter, but with an emphasis in 2012 on comedy.

"The best word for describing next season is `party,'" says Walters. "We want audiences to have a good time and not be depressed. Honestly, with theater being up against technology and new media forms of entertainment, theater needs to be an experience you can enjoy. In dark times, the best way to do that is with joy and happiness."

Second Thought will also try to spread its reputation outside Dallas, debuting a new play by Dallas playwright and actor Eric Steele and then taking it to the New York Fringe Festival. Steele wrote one of Second Thought's best shows this year, the one-man Bob Birdnow's Remarkable Tale of Human Survival and the Transcendence of Self, which premiered at the Festival of Independent Theatres starring Barry Nash.

The third play in the Second Thought's 2012 season hasn't been named yet.

Bryant Hall will get a paint job and new curtains between now and February, says Walters. The space can seat up to 100 and will change configuration from show to show.

Walters says he and LaBove are modeling their company's future on Chicago's ensemble-based Lookingglass Theatre, founded in 1988 by a group of Northwestern University graduates and winner of this year's regional Tony Award.

"They produce quality over quantity," says Walters. "That's one thing Second Thought has struggled with in the past. We can't do volume. We have to focus on a couple of specific projects and do them right."

Moving back to Dallas brings them back to the core audience that supported them from the start, says Walters. "Second Thought has always been a Dallas company. We were founded in Dallas. We cut our teeth in Dallas. And we're thrilled to be coming home."

All shows in Second Though Theatre's 2012 season will be performed in Bryant Hall, next to Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. To subscribe or for more info, go to http://www.2tt.co/.

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