Storm Aftermath

Tragedy for Shakespeare Dallas as storm devastates park's amphitheater

Tragedy for Shakespeare Dallas as storm devastates park's amphitheater

Shakespeare Dallas at Samuell-Grand Amphitheater
In non-COVID times, patrons pack the park for Shakespeare Dallas productions. Photo by Boleyn Photography

First came coronavirus, then came Winter Storm Uri. The dangerous weather that recently froze Texas and bursted oh-so-many pipes is the latest hit for Shakespeare Dallas, which performs at the amphitheater in Samuell-Grand Park in East Dallas.

The park is basically "inoperable" right now, says executive and artistic director Raphael Parry. This comes after Shakespeare Dallas has already been forced to cancel three seasons due to the pandemic.

"We are facing a significant financial hit beginning with the cancellation of our March Movies in the Park series, planned spring events, co-productions and – being truthful – new uncertainty surrounding our summer season."

In a nearly five-minute video posted to Facebook on February 25 (and included below), Parry takes viewers on a tour of the massive damage sustained by the company's buildings.

The ceiling is missing in the public restrooms, as it has already been opened up to access the broken pipes above. The toilets are nonfunctioning, and a clip shows water gushing out of the building into a pool that's at least ankle-deep.

When Parry first visited the amphitheater on February 21, he found water jetting out of walls in the dressing rooms beneath the stage. Even though the four inches of water has since been vacuumed up, it continues to seep from the cinderblock walls since that part of the building is underground.

Parry notes they had to wait four or five hours for the city to fully shut the water off, saying, "it was heartbreaking, having to just stand there watching it flow."

The one bright spot is that the company's extensive collection of high-tech sound equipment was mostly spared. A lot of it is already waterproof or was stored in protective cases.

"This is gonna be tough for us, I'm not gonna lie," says Parry. "Creativity is one of our greatest strengths, and if 2020 has taught us anything it's that we can be resilient and we will bounce back."

Shakespeare Dallas is currently working with the Dallas Parks & Recreation department and other agencies to assess the full extent of the damage, but Parry estimates it will be at least two months before the park can reopen.

"The damage to Samuell-Grand is a loss not only for us but also the organizations with whom we partner," says Marie Facini, Shakespeare Dallas' director of community engagement. "As one of the city's only outdoor performance venues, we often share this space with other groups. The support and encouragement from the community has been wonderful, and keeps us hopeful to get back on our feet once again."

Patrons who have already purchased tickets to upcoming Shakespeare Dallas events will be contacted for refunds.

The company is also asking for donations to help repair their facilities — you can give by visiting here.