Kevin Moriarty is tight-lipped.
“This could be the most pointless conversation you will ever have,” joked Dallas Theater Center's artistic director when asked about DTC’s upcoming production of White Rabbit Red Rabbit. “Nearly everything you ask, I will dodge and weave.”
Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour wrote White Rabbit Red Rabbit in 2010, and it has since been performed hundreds of time in more than 20 languages.
Moriarty insists the play is not political.
“The show cannot be interpreted through a predetermined lens based on history, geography, race or nationality because it is happening at this current moment right in front of the audience," he says. "It short-circuits any temptation on the part of the actor to stand outside of the work and enter into it intellectually.”
Dallas Theater Center is under contractual obligation not to spoil the show by sharing any information about it. The audience will be encouraged not to speak about the show after seeing it.
In addition to Moriarty, only two people on the DTC staff have seen the play. It is not on the staff’s shared computer drives out of concern that someone could see it. There will be no preshow talks because there is nothing that could be said to the audience beforehand.
Talking to Moriarty about White Rabbit Red Rabbit could have been frustrating, but he remains enthusiastic after seeing the show in New York two years ago.
“I was on the edge of my seat," Moriarty says. "It felt [like] a high-wire act. Not that the actor could fall off the high wire but that the play itself, at any given moment, could stop or redirect."
In an attempt to explain the play, Moriarty says it is entertaining, funny and moving.
“Everyone involved in the endeavor is fully together and present at the exact same moment," he says. "Everyone enters into it in exactly the same way at the same time. That is very unusual for a theater piece.”
The entire experience of the play takes place with the audience present, no rehearsals. There are no costumes, no set, only a stage with a couple of pieces of furniture and a few props — none of which can be revealed.
Forty-eight hours before the performance, the actor will receive 14 instructions. Moriarty can only share the first of those, which says, "DO NOT SEE OR READ THE PLAY BEFOREHAND!"
“I will walk on stage and introduce the actor and hand him or her an envelope with the script in it, and then the show begins," Moriarty says.
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There will be 40 performances with 40 actors. Some will be male, some female, some white, some black and some Latino. The show can only be performed by an actor once in his or her entire life, and there can be no previous knowledge — the actor can’t have read it and cannot talk about it afterward.
Moriarty insists there is nothing gimmicky about the show.
“The idea behind the play, like contemporary art, is as important as the technical elements," he says. "It is the transmutation of the playwright’s experience through the vessel of the actor, who embodies the words of the playwright, who then conveys those to an audience. An audience that the playwright will never see or know.”