By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
And all those zombies are the bomb.
Dallas Theater Center's recent weeklong festival of seven of Suzan-Lori Parks' 365 Days/365 Plays was a refreshing throwback to freewheeling theater "happenings" of the 1970s. The performances were part of an international yearlong festival, with more than 700 theaters each staging a week of Parks' short works.
In 2002, Parks, a Pulitzer winner for the drama Topdog/Underdog, decided to write a play a day for a year. Some are only a few lines long. Some have no dialogue, just movement and sound. There are lists, conversations, poems, pronouncements, prayers and arguments.
The festival began in November 2006. Companies were free to stage the works however they pleased, from simple readings to full-out productions.
At DTC, where the shows were elaborately costumed by Scott Osborne, audiences saw Dallas actors Marco Rodriguez, Leah Spillman, Rhianna Mack, Lee Trull, Brad McEntire, Vince McGill, Bryan Pitts and Matt Lyle in playlets that began in the lobby, continued outside to the parking lot, moved into the scene shop and then, with everyone holding hands as instructed, concluded upstairs in a rehearsal hall. One play consisted entirely of characters saying the word "easy" to each other. Another featured Trull and Spillman jumping rope.
It was a wacky little dose of experimental, free-form theater, the kind of thing DTC used to do lots of back in the day. New DTC artistic director Kevin Moriarty joined the audience for the final Sunday night performance.
DTC's participation in 365 Plays/365 Days fell in the 49th week of the festival, which concludes November 12. Weeks 50 and 51 will include performances in Houston at the Nova Arts Project and the Alley Theatre. The final week of shows can be seen in San Antonio at La Colectiva Performance Group.