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Teco Theatrical Productions' PlayPride Festival Puts Money Where Its Heart Is

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When Teresa Coleman-Wash, founder and artistic director of TeCo Theatrical Productions, received a submission to the company's annual New Play competition entitled Three Guys in a Bed, she immediately wanted to help bring it to the stage. But the play was far too edgy —think full frontal nudity— for the fairly traditional festival, and Three Guys in a Bed was set aside. However, when the board at TeCo began reflecting on the trends in their recent submission cycles, they landed upon an idea for a separate, all LGBT festival.

"What we had been seeing from the admissions process was a lot of gay themed plays," Wash says. "It was time to offer an LGBT festival. That's how we created the PlayPride event. It's an opportunity for us to serve our community. It was a niche that had not been given a platform."

PlayPride LGBT festival will take over the Bishop Arts Theatre Centre Thursday, September 4 through Sunday, September 14. Six one-act plays from Texas playwrights will be performed each evening during the run. There's also a competitive element, and it's for a good cause. At the end of each evening of performances, audience members will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite play, and the winning playwright will earn $1,000 for the LGBT community organization of their choice.

Three Guys in a Bed, the play that inspired PlayPride, tells the story of a gay couple who bring another man home for a threesome one evening, and the complications that arise as a result. It comes from playwright Randy Frank Eppes, who's chosen to represent the Turtle Creek Chorale should he be awarded money. Other community organizations that stand to benefit from the festival include AIDS Interfaith Network, Living Faith Covenant Church and Abounding Prosperity Inc., Resource Center Dallas, and Soulforce.

Despite the fact that Eppes was the first playwright selected to participate in PlayPride, Wash insists that the competition will be stiff. "We received about thirty submissions," Wash says. "That's about the same number that we receive for the New Play competition, but the caliber of writing was a step above. The New Play competition has been around for twelve years, and the writing for PlayPride is far beyond anything I've seen in that time."

Among the playwrights who will be competing are a number of seasoned theater people. The Director of Development at the Dallas Theater Center, Antay Bilugutay, will be offering a play called Mama's Boy. Incidentally, Bilugutay was also this year's winner of TeCo's New Play Competition. Only one playwright, Bill Richard, will be making his stage debut.

The response to PlayPride has already been positive and Wash anticipates that the festival will recur annually, becoming a staple of Teco's season. "From all indication it seems that it's going to be a long lasting relationship with the LGBT community and we want to build on that," she says. "A lot of our neighbors don't know that we're here. We want the community to know that we're here and to support these stories being told."

PlayPride LGBT Festival will run at Bishop Arts Theatre Center September 4th through September 14th. On Thursdays, seats are $10. Discounts offered for groups of 15 or more. More info at tecotheater.org.

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