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A Handy Guide to the Festival of Independent Theatres

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Tucked into a sleepy neighborhood on the edge of White Rock Lake, the Bath House Cultural Center is one of those venues only locals know. It's part theater, party art gallery and the terrace overlooks the lake with a view of downtown Dallas in the distance. When the Texas sun sets and sky swims in pinks and purples, there are very places more picturesque in the entire city.

For much of the year, the space hosts small art exhibitions or occasionally a play, but for four weeks every summer, the Festival of Independent Theatres offers you just the excuse you need to visit this small Dallas treasure at the corner of NorthCliff and E. Lawther Drives. But navigating to the Bath House Cultural Center is just the first step.

Starting Friday, June 11 and continuing for four weeks, the festival presents a variety of shows by eight companies that range from a new spin on Mark Twain's The Diaries of Adam and Eve to two movement-based pieces, one about sleepwalking and the other about a clown on a quest to save the world's happiness.

"It's year 16 for FIT and I'm happy to say that it looks like the festival is finally growing up," managing director David Meglino says. "It's eight new plays by eight great companies, some of whom are new to us, some longtimers, and some back after a long absence."

To see all of the plays, you'll have to plan ahead. In FIT tradition, the shows are scheduled in blocks of two, with each show running under an hour.

To attend all eight shows in just two days, you'll want to wait for the second week of the festival to attend both the evening of Thursday, July 17 and all-day Saturday, July 19. Otherwise planning your schedule will be a bit like a Sudoku game to line up the perfect combination without repeating, as the pairings are a bit scrambled. Of course, by week four, it's likely you may have forgotten the shows from week one or will want to see a particular play more than once. If you want to organize your theater-going, here's the calendar.

Here's the lowdown on this year's festival: Wingspan Theatre Company's The Diaries of Adam and Eve They laughed, they loved, they ate an apple and were kicked out of utopia. Perhaps the only writer witty enough to put the thoughts and feelings of The Bible's first couple into words was Mark Twain. And now, Wingspan's artistic director Susan Sargeant has adapted it for the stage and cast Catherine DuBord and Austin Tindle as the titular couple. Predictions: A few hearty laughs, but the lead actors won't be as naked as we'd like them to be. See it: 8 p.m. July 19, 5 p.m. July 19, 8 p.m. July 24, 5 p.m. July 26, 8 p.m. Aug. 1, 2 p.m. Aug. 2.

Nouveau 47 Theatre's Metamorphosis II Throw Franz Kafka's Gregor Samsa into a Lady Gaga-obsessed culture filled with ironic teenagers who can't pull their heads out of their iPhones and who knows where the story will go. One of Dallas' funniest playwrights, Jim Kuenzer explores the sometimes difficult decision to engage with the world with this philosophical comedy. Predictions: Way funnier than Kafka with Ben Bryant giving the stand-out performance of the festival. See it: 8 p.m. July 11, 5 p.m. July 12, 2 p.m. July 13, 5 p.m. July 19, 8 p.m. July 24, 8 p.m. Aug. 2.

Churchmouse Productions' The Watch Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a criminal waiting for your next crime? Your boss, or your informant, or maybe just your primitive instinct tells you to wait for the next move. What are the the thoughts that run through your head? What would the conversation be like between you and another criminal? Would you find yourself in an existential crisis? Trace Crawford's new play explores a similar imagined scenario. Predictions: Waiting for Godot meets In Bruges. See it: 8 p.m. July 12, 2 p.m. July 13, 8 p.m. July 17, 2 p.m. July 26, 5 p.m. July 27, 8 p.m. Aug. 1.

Echo Theatre's Mania/Gift In Shelby Allison Hibbs' new play, she delves into one woman's battle with mental illness starring two of Dallas theater's underused, over-talented female leads, Cara Reid and Whitney Holotik. The script promises poetry and the production promises multi-media. Predictions: Enthralling and well acted. Whoever wrote the brochure description will start writing all theater adverts in this city cause this play sounds damn good. See it: 8 p.m. July 12, 5 p.m. July 13, 8 p.m. July 17, 2 p.m. July 20, 8 p.m. July 25, 5 p.m. Aug. 2.

McClarey Players' Food for Thought Three short plays that all have to do with food make up thisscrumptious delicious mouth-watering hour of theater. Food for Thought by Cliff McCleland is an edible string of plays you'll likely enjoy devouring consuming sitting through. [Edited for bad puns] Predictions: A non-perishable offering on the festival shelves. [Looks like this one slipped through] See it: 8 p.m. July 18, 2 p.m. July 19, 5 p.m. July 20, 5 p.m. July 26, 2 p.m. July 27, 8 p.m. Aug. 2.

Prism, Co.'s Playtime We've been raving about the young theater company Prism, Co., which creates original, movement-based works filled with music that tackle universal topics. For FIT, the company remounts Playtime, which follows a clown as he heads out on his own and finds himself on a quest to save the world's happiness. Predictions: Magical. See it: 8 p.m. July 11, 5 p.m. July 12, 5 p.m. July 13, 8 p.m. July 26, 8 p.m. July 31.

One Thirty Productions' Our Breakfast Ben Schroth is one of the city's playwrights who has earned a strong following. He writes sharp, touching plays and this one sounds no different. It's a brief character study of three women in a coffee shop. Predictions: Better than having breakfast with your grandma. See it: 8 p.m. July 19, 2 p.m. July 20, 8 p.m. July 26, 2 p.m. July 27, 8 p.m. July 31, 5 p.m. Aug. 2.

Sibling Revelry's Sleepwalker Man Walk Through Wall Have you ever had a dream that blurs with your reality the next day? One that jumbles with actual memories, forcing to struggle with which things actually happened and which were merely results of a deep REM cycle. In his new play, John Leos pieces together sequences to follow several characters on the edge of that reality. Prediction: Impossible to sleep through. See it: 8 p.m. July 19, 5 p.m. July 20, 8 p.m. July 25, 2 p.m. July 26, 5 p.m. July 27, 2 p.m. Aug. 2.

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