In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.
Matthew Posey lives for live theater. He also lives in his theater, the 40-seat Ochre House in Exposition Park, which is just part of what puts him in the vanguard of the Dallas arts scene.
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On a tiny stage in a storefront between a couple of dive bars, Posey, 54, and his small core troupe of actors, designers and musicians -- known informally as the "Pioneers of the Suavant-Garde" -- stage stunningly original work. Posey is playwright, director and co-star of most productions, which almost always combine live music, dance, puppetry and video. He lives in a cluttered loft space behind the stage. It's his living room, kitchen, writing room, bedroom and the actors' dressing area during shows. "I live like a hermit here," says Posey, whose roommate is his terrier, Walter.
There's no set season at Posey's playhouse. He creates eight to 10 shows a year, financed partially with residuals from the 90 films (JFK, Places in the Heart) and TV shows (Lonesome Dove and this year's Dallas) he's appeared in since graduating from Texas Tech and the American Film Institute. An idea sparks and Posey handwrites the script, rehearsing actors while he's writing. An email goes out announcing the show and $15 tickets go on sale. Recent productions, including Posey's dark comedy Dreams of Slaughtered Sheep and the wacky farce Good Nuts, have been sell-outs. Local actors now clamor to work with Posey, though his shows are cast by invitations to lunch, not from auditions. " I've landed on a mother lode of talent," Posey says of his current creative ensemble. "I've never met more talented people in Dallas. They're young and they can really bring it. I can actually make an art house here."
He's done 27 original plays since 2008, including ones inspired by William S. Burroughs, Frida Kahlo, Hunter S. Thompson and Ernest Hemingway (that one was told less in words and more through flamenco). Those lucky enough to have seen it still talk about Mean, his original musical about the first meeting of Charles Manson and Tex Watson, whom Posey himself portrayed.
"There are few theater companies in this country creating new works at the rate Posey and his crew are," says local actor, playwright and filmmaker Eric Steele. "I remember watching their original production of Umlauf's Bicycle [based on the Icarus myth] and thinking, 'I have never seen anything like this in my life.'" "Theater owes the community originality," Posey says. "I'm not interested in rehashing anything."