With the announcement of its 30th anniversary season, Undermain Theatre remains true to its mission statement: to produce challenging, innovative, new and experimental works. On the docket for the upcoming year are two world premieres and one regional premiere, along with a still-to-be-announced production in the spring.
Void of recognizable titles, this bold lineup underscores the company’s penchant for taking risks and exploring new works, all the while trusting its audiences to come along for the ride.
“Dallas audiences are sophisticated, adventurous and wonderfully receptive to new and experimental pieces,” says artistic director Katherine Owens.
Says artistic director Katherine Owens on the upcoming season: “Dallas is an excellent place to develop new work, because Dallas audiences are sophisticated, adventurous and wonderfully receptive to new and experimental pieces. Many of the most significant voices in the American theater have had the first productions of their plays here, a trend that goes back to Margo Jones in the 1940s.
“We are delighted this year to be able to present two rising young stars, Sylvan Oswald and Jackie Sibblies Drury, along with American master Len Jenkin.”
First up is Profanity (September 12-October 12), a dark comedy by New Dramatists’ resident playwright Sylvan Oswald. Directed by Katherine Owens, it will feature familiar faces Bruce DuBose and Shannon Kearns-Simmons while introducing Michael Federico, Katy Tye and Alex Organ.
Profanity is described thusly:
In 1950s Philadelphia, the Schneider brothers have big dreams for the family real estate business. Struggling against their own disagreements and rival companies, they want to build something that will last. However, when they hire a new secretary, she and her daughter Esther stumble upon long hidden secrets in musty files behind closed doors. In his world premiere dark comedy, rising young playwright Sylvan Oswald explores a family foundation sinking into decay and the corrupted ties that bind communities.
January brings a return to Dallas City Performance Hall, where the company staged its Odyssey-inspired Penelope last year to great critical acclaim. This time it introduces the latest from frequent collaborator Len Jenkin, the scribe behind Time in Kafka and Port Twilight, both of which Undermain premiered.
In Abraham Zobell’s Home Movie: Final Reel… (January 17-February 1, 2014), a live band and scenic projections will be used to guide the audience through one ailing man’s journey through his past. “At Sister Fleeta’s Go-Go Bar, where the blues and gospel tunes never cease, he discovers a kindred spirit in Uncle Monday, a young girl, Stella, who takes him back to his high school days, his boss from the first job he held at the boardwalk carnival, and a rabbi on his final pilgrimage to Jerusalem.”
Its official title might be a mouthful — We are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South-West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 (March 22-April 19, 2014)— but Jackie Sibblies Drury’s 2012 play packs enough emotional punch to justify it.
A troupe of young actors gears up to portray the extermination of the Herero tribe of Namibia. They’re passionate. Energetic. They’ve got piles of research. But what do they really know about being black Africans under German colonization? Is it possible to identify with the victims of history? What about the villains? There is danger in the game they’re playing, and fraught racial histories threaten to tear the troupe apart. As the actors dive further in, this inventive new play … becomes a hilarious and head-spinning nightmare of identity.
After the TBA show in the spring, Undermain finishes out its season with the annual favorite Undermain Reads at the Dallas Museum of Art, a free, open-to-the-public series that features three selections.