4
| Theater |

TeCo's Black at the Assassination Rewinds Dallas History to November 1963

^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

The material has promise, but the production of TeCo Theatrical's latest at the Bishop Arts Theatre, Black at the Assassination, doesn't do it any justice. And justice is what this new play by Dallas writers Kyadal Robertson and Camika Spencer is all about.

Connected by one event, the assassination of JFK, long vignettes depict events and conversations among African-Americans in Dallas as they might have happened just before and immediately after the tragedy in 1963. A teacher (Deon Q. Sanders) drills her fifth-graders about black American history, then has to break the terrible news that the president, "our savior," has been shot. Three black teachers (Junene K., Vontress Mitchell, Otis Donnelly Watson) on the scene to protest at what would have been the president's speech at the Trade Mart talk about social issues with a young Hispanic cater waiter (José Silva). Two days after the shooting, a South Dallas minister (Eric Beasley in a strong performance) preaches to his angry congregation that he's been called by civic leaders and asked to tell his community "to hide our heart and our pain." Instead, he urges them to continue their fight for desegregation and better schools.

There's good agit-prop drama in Black at the Assassination that is worth developing into a serious piece of theater. The writers have done their research and the testimonies by the characters have a ring of truth as they drop references to H.L. Green drugstore and "Negro Day" at Fair Park. But TeCo's staging, directed by Becki McDonald, is insultingly artless. There is no stagecraft here. None. Actors repeatedly turn their backs and speak upstage. Random chairs, a couple of plastic milk crates (which weren't in use in 1963) and other tacky detritus substitute for scenery. Lighting by Cameron Hefty (who is also credited with the set "design") often plunges center stage into darkness while actors are standing there.

Info

Black at the Assassination

Black at the Assassination Continues through October 27 (7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Sunday) at Bishop Arts Theatre, 215 S. Tyler St. Call 214-948-0716.

Amateur and community theaters all over Dallas and Fort Worth present brilliantly designed, skillfully directed and visually beautiful shows on tiny budgets, so there's no reason to expect anything less from a company that's been doing professional theater for a decade or more.

This problem at TeCo's shows, however, is always just a general lack of polish, a lack of care about the details of the final product. And what a shame. Bishop Arts Theatre is a gem of a space that was given to TeCo and renovated with donated funds. This should be a showcase for Dtallas writers, actors, musicians and designers, and a showplace of which discerning theatergoers in Oak Cliff could rightly be proud.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.