In Game of Thrones, the ominous line "winter is coming" would be far more terrifying for a Dallas resident if it said "summer is coming." With the arrival of May, the mercury is rising, as the temperatures swiftly approach triple digits. Lucky for us, even when our cars run out of coolant, theaters will still have air conditioning. If you need another reason to see a show this month, here are the plays we recommend.
Barbecue Apocalypse At the end of the season, theaters like to go out with a bang, but Kitchen Dog Theater is taking this to a new extreme. As the headliner of the New Works Festival, Barbecue Apocalypse chronicles the end of the world, as experienced at a backyard cookout. Come hungry for the newest play from hometown playwright Matt Lyle, directed by company artist Lee Trull. Opens May 23 and runs through June 21. Tickets start at $15. Be sure to check out the full line-up of the New Works Festival staged readings at kitchendogtheater.org.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom On the list of playwrights whose work you should before you die, August Wilson needs to be near the top. Right up there with William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neil and Lillian Hellman. We have a feeling you'll be coming back for more after Jubilee Theatre's production of one of his quintessential works, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Based in 1920s Chicago, this play explores the exploitation of black musicians by white producers in a story about one of the greatest blues crooners of the 20th century. And if anyone in this town should direct it, it's the masterful Tre Garret, Jubilee's sharp, young artistic director.
When Garrett was a high school student, he found a recording of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom in the library and it was the first time he heard voices he recognized. For years, he wrote Wilson seeking advice with no answer. Years later, Garrett was directing Ma Rainey in Pittsburgh and Wilson walked into the theater and said, "I got all your letters." They were friends until Wilson's death. See the play that inspired Garrett and many other thespians around the world May 9 through June 8. Tickets start at $15. More information at jubileetheatre.org.
Dallas Solo Fest There are actually eight one-man shows to be seen during this 10-day festival. The variety is endless, from the vaudevillian absurdist comedy Beast of Festive Skin by New York performer Alexandra Tatarsky to Innocent When You Dream Zeb L. West's story about being trapped in the belly of a whale with only two books to read. The fest also includes Dallas Observer's own Elaine Liner in her Edinburgh Fringe Festival hit, Sweater Curse. Catch the shows from May 15-25 at the Margo Jones Theatre (1121 1st Ave.). Individual tickets are $12; festival passes are $55. More information at dallassolofest.com.
The Unmentionables Worlds collide in this play by Bruce Norris about a young missionary and his disillusioned girlfriend in West Africa, who are building a school during a politically unstable climate. When their house is torched, they become the guests of a wealthy billionaire and his wife. When the missionary disappears, the hunt begins leading to some questionable actions. See it at Stage West (821 Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth) May 17 to June 15. Tickets start at $15. More information is available at stagewest.com.
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Booth We know what happened after Kennedy's assassination. The stories of Oswald and Ruby live in infamy. But the stories of John Wilkes Booth's run from the law didn't quite make it into our American folk lore. Lincoln's assassin is the subject of Booth, the new play by Steven Walters and Erik Archilla, which takes the stage at Second Thought Theatre May 21 through June 14. It's a magnified, mostly true, take on the person of Booth and his band of outlaws. Tickets are $25 and available at secondthoughttheatre.com.
Magic Rainforest: An Amazon Journey In this magical story about myth and identity, a young boy named Aki sets out on a journey to become a warrior. He enters a mystical world inhabited by a fire demon, where he learns who really is. Cara Mia Theatre's regional premiere of award winning playwright Jose Cruz Gonzalez's Magic Rainforest uses movement, light and sound to bring the story to life. See it May 24 to June 8 at the Latino Cultural Center (2600 Live Oak). Tickets start at $10. More info at caramiatheatre.org.