Kevin Moriarty is the new artistic director at the Dallas Theater Center. He comes here from Brown University, where he teaches in the MFA theater program, and from the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York, where he runs the summer season. He’s only the fifth artistic director in DTC’s 48-year history. He reports for work September 4, replacing Richard Hamburger, who leaves the theater this month after 15 years.
Moriarty is single, 40 and full of enthusiasm for reintroducing “the classics” to Dallas theater audiences. At this morning’s press conference at the Trammell Crow Building -- where he stood next to the architect’s model for the new Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, where DTC moves in 2009 -- Moriarty enthused about Greek tragedians, Chekhov, Molière and Brecht. He used “world-class” six times in his opening remarks, and he said he hopes to lead DTC to presenting “theater by the people and for the people of this great city.”
If he didn’t already have the job, which pays in the low six figures annually, you’d think he was running for something.
In a one-on-one with Unfair Park after the rest of the media had gobbled their breakfast burritos and cleared out, Moriarty admitted he’s the rare theater guy who’s also a pop culture fanatic. He TiVos The View and is a big fan of NBC’s Heroes and Friday Night Lights.
“On the East Coast we not only think of theater too often as separate from pop culture, but separate from the other arts, as well," he tells Unfair Park. "From opera, dance, music. That’s not me. I love pop culture. And I love those other arts. What I want to do at the Dallas Theater Center is be part of a wider arts community. Theater should be rejuvenating, restorative and fun."
Moriarty, who grew up in Indiana, named Preston Jones as his favorite Texas playwright (a politic answer, since Jones’ Texas Trilogy premiered at DTC in the early 1970s). He said he hopes to bring to DTC not just plays by the fusty-dusties but some works by new playwrights such as Roberto Aguirre Sacasa (who also writes Spider-Man comics for Marvel) and Itamar Moses, whose Bach at Leipzig Moriarty directed in its world premiere. He’s currently directing (for the theater in Ithaca) Bleeding Kansas by Kate Walat, whose play Victoria Martin, Math Queen of the Universe was a recent hit off-Broadway.
First impression of Moriarty: literate, smart, energetic. For the press confab, he wore wrinkled jeans, Nike sneakers and a not-hip-at-all gray suit jacket over a pale blue shirt and tie. He puts products in his short black hair and looks way younger than 40.
He said he’s tired of jumping job to job and theater to theater. He wants to settle down. Dallas looks like a good place to settle down, he figures.
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DTC’s general manager Mark Hadley said Moriarty was hired because “he’s clearly an artist of the highest caliber. He believes that theater needs to connect with the community. We liked his general philosophy and think he’ll be an inspirational leader.”
So far Moriarty has spent a total of four days in Dallas, counting his two job interviews. He was one of three finalists for the DTC position. The other two were also men working in theaters on the East Coast, but Hadley declined to name them.
“There are very, very few theaters the size of DTC that have changeovers in artistic leadership,” Moriarty says. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. When the Wyly Theatre opens, there will be nothing like it in the world. The art we put in that building has to be worthy of the building itself.”
Well played, Moriarty. But, really, Chekhov? --Elaine Liner