Arts Mission Oak Cliff, a new multi-use arts venue built inside of the old Winnetka Heights Church, has opened its first production.
Cara Mia Theatre Co.’s De Troya is a world premiere by Obie Award winning playwright Caridad Svich. It is the story of Mara, who rescues a mysteriously wounded girl on a riverbank.
Cara Mia’s artistic director, David Lozano, directed a developmental reading of the play last May in Fort Worth at Amphibian Stage Productions. Amphibian’s artistic director, Kathleen Culebro, started the developmental reading series in order to connect playwrights with theaters and directors that might want to produce their work.
This month, De Troya is getting a full production in Dallas; it opened last Saturday and will run through May 14 at the Arts Mission. De Troya is the first professional production to take place in the venue, which was renovated by Dallas actor Anastasia Muñoz, who also runs it.
One of the most exciting elements of the play is the score, created by Tom Hagerman of the Denver band Devotchka. Hagerman plays violin, accordion and piano for the group, which many will remember from the 2006 movie Little Miss Sunshine. Their work on that movie earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best Compilation Soundtrack.
Hagerman — who has collaborated with Neko Case, M Ward and Calexico, worked with orchestras, and written music for ballets and arrangements for theater productions — will also perform live during De Troya. He particularly enjoys creating music for theater and film.
“I love that when things really click in those mediums it causes you to forget about everything and allows you to be immersed in another life," he says. "I love suspension of disbelief. Devotchka clicked with a lot of people in the film industry and led us to working on various projects, which has led to my own projects and other collaborators.”
Hagerman is meticulous when he crafts music for theater and film, because he knows how music can quickly amplify or diminish a mood.
“I think it is a really powerful storytelling tool," he says.
A friend from the Denver Center for Performing Arts put Hagerman in touch with Svich, so they could discuss music for a couple of her plays.
“One thing led to another and Caridad put me in touch with David Lozano from Cara Mia and here we all are,” Hagerman says.
When working with theater companies, Hagerman tries to remember that he is just a small piece of a larger picture.
“I'm here to facilitate the vision of Caridad and David," he says. "Most everybody I have ever met in theater has been a wonderful human being. Following the rules you learn as a kid really is a good idea — don't be a dick."
De Troya, through May 14 at Arts Mission Oak Cliff, 410 S. Windomere Ave., $13-$18, caramiatheatre.org.