Fall in Texas means new seasons of theater have been announced. Dallas-Fort Worth audiences have tons of choices, from world premieres to classics by Edward Albee and Lynn Nottage, and the work of badass lady playwrights. Below are our top picks.
A Lost Leonardo World Premiere
By David Davalos
Oct. 13 to Nov. 5
Amphibian Stage Productions
Amphibian Stage Productions in Fort Worth did a staged reading of this play during its 2015 season under the working title Daedalus. Now, it will bring it back this fall as A Lost Leonardo. Amphibian has spent the last two years workshopping this play with David Davalos and a few theaters in New York. The plot revolves around a frustrated Leonardo DaVinci renouncing his art and joining a ruthless papal army. Amphibian’s habit of helping playwrights develop their work from start to finish almost always yields great results. This isn't one to pass up.
Pride and Prejudice Regional Premiere
By Kate Hamill
Oct. 13 to Nov. 5
Kate Hamill is one of the best young playwrights around, and she’s made a name for herself adapting classic literature. Her adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility played at the Dallas Theater Center in 2015 and was a smash hit; in fact, it’s been a smash wherever it’s played.
Pride and Prejudice is new as of this summer. It premiered at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and then had regional premieres throughout the U.S. Hamill has a knack for adapting literature in fresh, hilarious and interesting ways, and she’s got scores of plays, including adaptations of classics such as Vanity Fair.
Pride and Prejudice will have its regional premiere at WaterTower Theatre in October. Hamill is especially skilled at bringing the snap and wit of Austen to the stage, highlighting the author’s nuanced looks at class and social-ladder-climbing women. These old stories about women shouldn’t feel so timely, but they do.
Ironbound Regional Premiere
By Martyna Majok
Oct. 26 to Nov. 12
Kitchen Dog Theater
Another regional premiere is happening at Kitchen Dog. Polish playwright Martyna Majok’s Ironbound is not a one-woman show, but its main character, Darja, doesn’t leave the stage for nearly 80 minutes. It’s a dark, searing look at the American dream from the perspective of a Polish immigrant desperate to find her adult son, who is addicted to drugs. Through a series of terrible relationships and disappointments, Darja navigates life in this country that promises so much and takes so little to break your heart. Kitchen Dog does the intimate, gritty works that cut you in all the right places perfectly.
By Lynn Nottage
Viewer discretion advised
Here’s the rule: When there’s a Lynn Nottage play happening, you go see it. She’s a double Pulitzer Prize-winner for drama. Both 2009's Ruined and her most recent play, Sweat, have stunned audiences and taken home Pulitzers; she’s the only woman to win the award twice.
It’s perfect that Echo Theater — Dallas’ only theater dedicated to producing works by female playwrights — will open its 20th season with Ruined. The play follows bar owner Mama Nadi, who, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, gives three young women refuge and an “unsavory” means of survival.
Nottage’s play follows the plight of women in this region of Africa who were targeted for rape during the war. It’s raw, but this is where Nottage excels. The play will feature two Dallas superstars, Denise Lee and Tyrees Allen, who have appeared on nearly every stage in the area.
By Edward Albee
Wingspan Theatre Company
Wingspan is also on its 20th season and will celebrate with a season dedicated to the late American playwright Edward Albee, who died a year ago. Occupant is a two-hander about a reincarnated artist — real-life, badass lady and sculptor Louise Nevelson.
The play, which premiered in 2008 to great reviews, tells the ghostly woman’s story through the eyes of an unnamed interviewer who dissects her life unapologetically. Her unique, posthumous perspective on her life offers a fresh perspective on one of the greatest 20th century sculptors. The Russian-born sculptor was known for her intricate, wooden, puzzle-like works, which is fitting for a playwright who was often puzzle-like himself.
so go the ghosts of méxico, part two World Premiere
The second of a trilogy by Matthew Paul Olmos
Sept. 6 through Oct. 1
John Dallas Premiere
By Annie Baker
Nov. 8 to Dec. 3
Two plays are definitely worth your time at Undermain this fall. One is the second in Matthew Paul Olmos' trilogy so go the ghosts of mexico. Last year, Undermain gave us the first taste, which had already had its feet on the ground a few times before hitting Dallas.
Next month, Undermain will produce the second part as a world premiere. Each section of the trilogy follows the drug cartel in Mexico, focusing on a different aspect for each play. This play focuses on the cartel itself, in which warring gangs, all played by women, fight for power and territory.
The second play to check out is by another stellar female writer, Annie Baker. Undermain will present the Dallas premiere of Baker’s 2015 play John. This city has been good to Baker. In 2015, Undermain produced Baker's Pulitzer Prize-winner, The Flick. It was probably the best play in Dallas that year, and Stage West’s production of her play The Aliens this year was breathtaking.
Annie Baker is just that good. John is about an unsettling bed and breakfast in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and a couple struggling to stay together. Like all of Baker's plays, it’s also about a whole lot more than that.
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By David Lozano and Lee Trull
Regional touring production commissioned by Ignite/Arts Dallas
Sept. 14 to Nov. 19
Cara Mia Theatre Co.
Cara Mia is bringing back Deferred Action, co-written by the theater's artistic director, David Lozano, which had its world premiere at the Dallas Theater Center in 2016. This will mark the first regional tour of the play, which focuses on Javier Mejía, one of the immigrants known as DREAMers who arrived in the USA as an undocumented minor.
Deferred Action takes a sharp look at what happens to undocumented immigrants' children who have never known a home outside of the United States. After years in the States, Javier finds himself caught in the tangle of existing immigration laws and new presidential policies, trying to be a voice for those who go largely unheard. At each tour stop, Cara Mía Theatre will partner with the North Texas Dream Team to discuss issues surrounding the play — the DREAM Act, immigration reform and Latinos in politics.
A note from Cara Mia: The play is performed in English with some Spanish. It contains mature themes, including the use of drugs, theatrical semiautomatic gunshots and strong language.