In the Dallas arts scene, the urgent question people are finally beginning to ask: where are the young artists? The stunning architecture of the Dallas Arts District yearns to be filled with the creation of young, hungry artists. It's why the Flora Street Lofts are being developed to bring affordable artist housing to the district. And it's why Alia Tavakolian joined forces with five other young people to start the Davis Street Collective.
"We're not necessarily trying to fill a void," Tavakolian says, over coffee at The Pearl Cup on Henderson Avenue. "There are just plays we want to produce, stories we want to tell. And we wanted to create art our way."
Tavakolian is immediately likable. Just a year out of Southern Methodist Unversity's Theatre Studies program, she seems much older when she talks about filling out the paperwork to become an LLC and eventually a 501(c)(3). In one breath, she talks about her determination to run a successful company and smiles when she admits that it might be "totally naïve."
Earlier this year, the company wet its feet with a challenging, movement-focused production of Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis. Tavakolian directed the play, which starred another member of the Collective, Alexandra Werle. The group plans to focus on producing plays in its upcoming season, with Myth, Magic and the Machine: A Reading Series, weekly staged readings that relate to the idea of myth and fairytale.
"The fairytale has become culturally relevant again, with the advent of shows like Once Upon a Time," Tavakolian says. "And it's interesting that at this time when we're obsessing over milllenials that we're returning to these foundational stories that are actually pretty creepy when you re-read them."
This interest threads the whole season together. Then, January 10 through 26, 2014, the collective plans to stage a devised work The Enchanted Forest, which uses the lens of three familiar stories to look at the mythical fairytale location, where anything can happen and something always does. Then the season will close in March or April with Naomi Iizuka's Polaroid Stories, which blends Ovid's Metamorphoses and true stories told by street kids.
The first two shows take place in the Davis Foundry Gallery, just seconds down the street from Oak Cliff's trendy Bishop Arts District. She hasn't tied Polaroid Stories to a location yet.
"The people at the gallery have been great," says Tavakolian, who stumbled on the space when she moved into the building. "But I'm going to stay on the lookout for interesting spaces around town."
The pressing question I didn't get around to asking was whether or not that would change the name of the company? But my guess would be probably not. That would require more paperwork.
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