Something's been missing from the past few years of the Festival of Independent Theaters. It's been difficult to pinpoint exactly what was missing and the upbeat festival organizers aren't ones to complain. But it seemed from the outside that must have been a lack of truly engaging submissions. Of course, the festival staples like Winspan Theatre, Echo Theatre and 130 Productions remained solid, but where were the young theater companies? Or, more accurately, where was the young talent? When the most exciting show at a theater festival is a dance show (bless you, Rhythmic Souls), you know the 2013 roster was a bit stale. Let me put aside the bandying to say this, the 2014 FIT line-up looks downright killer.
Every year, the picturesque Bath House Cultural Center plays host to this festival during the blistering summer months. The fest presents eight new shows, each less than 60 minutes, many of them world premieres, in rotating repertory. If you build your schedule right, you can spend an entire day at the theater, taking a breath of fresh air on the veranda between acts, where you might catch a cool breeze off White Rock Lake.
This year's festival takes place July 11 - August 2, with shows Thursdays- Sundays. Four festival staples will return to the stage, along with a show from up-and-comer Prism Co., local independent company Nouveau 47, Grapevine-based Sibling Revelry Productions, and the return of The McClarey Players. And if you don't believe Dallas houses any playwrights, there are six on the books here: Jim Kuenzer, Jeffrey Colangelo, Cliff McClellan, Shelby Allison Hibbs, and Ben Schroth. Heck for a lucky number seven, you could even throw in Susan Sergeant, who adapted Mark Twain.
2014 Festival of Independent Theatres Line-Up from the press release:
Churchmouse Productions: The Watch by Trace Crawford The Watch revolves around two Pinter-esque career criminals stationed in a hotel room. Constantly looking out the window, they have been forced to watch for something, having no idea what, until ultimately, a taught existential crisis reveals itself.
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Echo Theatre: mania/gift by Shelby-Allison Hibbs A theatrical poem told with a multi-media aesthetic, mania/gift is a lyrical and enthralling journey into the heart of one woman's struggle with mental illness.
The McClarey Players: Food for Thought by Cliff McClelland - Charles Darwin and the Mating Habits of the Galapagos Marine Iguana, The Abyss and the Waffle, and Cake make up this charming trio of plays about a few of history's most memorable meals.
Nouveau 47: Metamorphosis II by Jim Kuenzer In this sequel for the ages, Franz Kafka's Gregor Samsa gets his greatest wish: He is returned to his human form, only this time; it's his environment that's changed. Facing a reality obsessed with pop-culture and social media, Gregor is once again faced with the choice to engage with the world around him or to retreat into darkness.
One Thirty Productions: Our Breakfast by Ben Schroth - A sentimental peek into the lives of three women in a coffee shop, Our Breakfast is a unique and poignant character study that challenges the assumptions we make about the lives of other people. Prism, Co: Playtime by Jeffrey Colangelo A joyous and heartfelt adventure, from SCDallas' Jeffrey Colangelo, which follows one lovable clown as he leaves the comfort of home, falls in love, and ultimately gets caught up in an epic battle to save the world's happiness. Sibling Revelry: Sleepwalker Man Walk Through Wall by John Leos A series of short sequences set in the world between reality and dreams, this avant-garde, devised movement piece by Dallas native John Leos follows several characters from distinct realities whose worlds begin to overlap, suddenly blurring the line between who is awake and who is asleep. WingSpan Theatre Company: Mark Twains' The Diaries of Adam & Eve edited and adapted by Susan Sargent - This classic tale, as told by American institution Mark Twain, gets a modern twist from WingSpan's Susan Sargeant, while still perfectly retaining all of Twain's trademark wit and wisdom.