Create Don't Spectate

Public Works Dallas makes waves with groundbreaking first production

Public Works Dallas makes waves with groundbreaking first production

Lear deBessonet, Kevin Moriarty
Directors Lear deBessonet and Kevin Moriarty. Photo by Karen Almond
Hassan El-Amin teaching Public Works Dallas workshop at Cummings Recreation Center
Former DTC resident company member Hassan El-Amin teaches a Public Works Dallas workshop at Cumming Recreation Center. Photo by Kim Lesson
Will Power teaching a Public Works Dallas workshop at Literacy Instruction for Texas
Dallas Theater Center playwright-in-residence Will Power teaches a Public works Dallas workshop at Literacy Instruction for Texas. Photo by Kim Lesson
Lear deBessonet, Kevin Moriarty
Hassan El-Amin teaching Public Works Dallas workshop at Cummings Recreation Center
Will Power teaching a Public Works Dallas workshop at Literacy Instruction for Texas

On March 3-5, Dallas Theater Center will mount a musical version of Shakespeare's The Tempest with a cast of 200 locals — only five of whom will be professional actors. Oh, and tickets are free.

It's the inaugural production of Public Works Dallas, an offshoot of an initiative developed by New York City's Public Theater that's striving to make its community into "creators and not just spectators." Acclaimed director Lear deBessonet first directed Todd Almond's adaptation for the Public Theater in 2013, then was awarded the SMU Meadows Prize in 2015 to bring the program to Dallas.

So now Dallas Theater Center, AT&T Performing Arts Center, and Ignite/Arts Dallas at Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts are gearing up for the "groundbreaking community engagement and participatory theater project designed to deliberately blur the line between professional artists and Dallas community members."

Here in Dallas that means pairing familiar DTC faces with community actors from Public Works Dallas’ five partner organizations: Bachman Lake Together, City of Dallas Park and Recreation, Jubilee Park and Community Center, Literacy Instruction for Texas, and Vickery Meadow Learning Center. There will also be cameo performances by Rickie Rush's Living Sound Choir from Inspiring Body of Christ Church, Sam Lao, Townview High School Big D Drumline, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, Northlake Children’s Chorus, Inner City All-Stars Brass Band, and Mitotiliztli Yaoyollohtli Aztec Dancers.

Mayor Mike Rawlings will play the wedding officiant on March 3, before Councilman Adam McGough, Councilman Adam Medrano, and "voice of the Dallas Cowboys" Brad Sham rotate into the role for the remaining three performances.

The 90-minute musical adaptation will star multiple-Tony-nominee André De Shields and resident acting company members Ace Anderson, Liz Mikel, and Alex Organ, with former Cara Mía Theatre artistic ensemble member Rodney Garza rounding out the pro side. DTC artistic director Kevin Moriarty is at the production's helm, with support from Broadway choreographer Ann Yee.

The Tempest will bring together 200 people from across this great city to engage in meaningful dialogue and the joyful act of creating theater together,” says Moriarty in a release. “Public Works Dallas will change our city forever, welcoming collaborators, partners, and friends into DTC’s home at the Wyly Theatre and blurring the line between professional artists and the talented community members of Dallas.”

So how do you get your free tickets? Beginning today, you can call 214-880-0202 to claim two per person, though these will be limited, or you can wait until February 24 at 2:30 pm to claim them online at www.dallastheatercenter.org. Tickets will also be distributed onsite via a mobile box office at each partnering community organization:

  • Jubilee Park and Community Center: January 25, 1-5 pm
  • Beckley Saner Recreation Center: February 1, 10 am-1 pm
  • Vickery Meadow Learning Center: February 8, 4-7 pm
  • Bachman Lake Together Family Center: February 15, 11:30 am-2:30 pm
  • Literacy Instruction for Texas: February 23, 3:30-6:30 pm

The Tempest is thought to be one of the last plays that Shakespeare wrote alone. Marooned and left to die on a remote island, Prospero can command spirits, create apparitions, and manipulate the elements. By using his magic, he assembles his enemies to take revenge on them, and in the process awakens in Miranda, his teenage daughter, her first experience of love.