Dallas Theater Center: "By Us, For Us"

Categories: Stage

“By us, for us,” said Dallas Theater Center Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty at Monday night’s announcement of the theater’s 50th season programming. The 41-year-old Moriarty -- who sat for an exclusive video interview with Unfair Park that's above -- has spent lots of time and energy since he arrived on the job at DTC in September visiting area theaters, churches, community centers and schools, asking what DTC should be doing better. What he heard, he says, is that people want theater that feels locally grown, not always imported from the East or West Coasts.

Wow, a Dallas Theater Center for Dallas audiences with Dallas actors -- not just Juilliard and Yale hired guns. Good concept.

Actually, this guy seems pretty smart. At least he’s seeking advice from theater-lovers, not telling the audience what they should like. For the new season, the last one in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building on Turtle Creek before DTC moves to new digs downtown, Moriarty said he looked for “bold and surprising” work that would not feel like “medicine” or be chosen simply because “it was considered great by The New York Times.”

The 2008-’09 season lineup includes three new plays, two world premieres, two musicals and two classics. The seasoner opener in August, The Who’s Tommy, will be the first show Moriarty directs at DTC. That’s followed by The Good Negro, a new play by award-winning young playwright Tracey Scott Wilson; In the Beginning (also directed by Moriarty), a collection of Medieval Biblical mystery plays co-produced with SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts; Back Back Back, a new play about baseball by Itamar Moses; and the world premiere of an as-yet unnamed musical from a Newbery Medal-winning children’s book. DTC will also stage its annual Christmas Carol in December.

There was especially good news for Dallas actors from Moriarty. He will cast a nine-member resident acting company, something DTC hasn’t had in about 15 years. Those actors will be guaranteed roles in at least two productions each season, but will not be prohibited from acting, directing or writing for other theaters. Open auditions for the company will be in May. A few local actors who have worked at DTC before might be invited into the company without an audition, said Moriarty.

DTC also is forming an ongoing relationship with SMU’s graduate theater program. That’s similar to the link DTC had in the 1970s with Trinity University in San Antonio under theater founder Paul Baker. Moriarty said Monday he hopes to foster “a new generation of caretakers to live up to Paul Baker’s vision.”

He recently met with the legendary director, who is 97 this year, at Baker’s ranch outside Austin. In the interview above, Moriarty talks about what he learned from Baker and what he hopes to achieve with the return to a resident acting company. You’ll also hear the excited response to his announcement from three of Dallas’ best actors. -- Elaine Liner

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