Plenty has been said about the effect of the September 11 attacks on the entertainment industry. Movies have been re-edited to omit scenes of the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Others have been shelved indefinitely because of plots about terrorism, collapsing buildings or hijacked airliners. There have been quickly produced episodes of The West Wing and Third Watch that deal with terrorism. And all the celebrities we're used to seeing in black tie and cleavage-baring cocktail dresses have been showing up on fund-raisers looking like normal folks.
So it's not a surprise that locally produced entertainment has been affected as well. Because of the events of the last six weeks, Teatro Dallas pulled its scheduled Day of the Dead play, The Vampire in His Laboratory. Its replacement is The Feast of All Souls, company members Valerie Brogan and Cora Cardona's cycle of four stories set in a cemetery tied together by La Catrina, the skull-faced figure common in Dia de los Muertos celebration.
The first three stories are surprising, chilling treatises on death and those left behind to make altars and candy skulls for the night when souls return. One even incorporates a little history of the Majestic Theatre, the venue where Teatro Dallas occupies a small basement theater. Nevertheless, the fourth story is destined to get the most attention. In it, a woman with a reservation at a restaurant in the World Trade Center slowly realizes that she--and everyone else--is dead. The sight of actors covered in pale dust and talking about flesh and rubble may be too much too soon, even for Teatro Dallas' patrons who are accustomed to being treated and tricked this time of year.