Things may look uncertain for Dallas right now, COVID-wise, but Deep Ellum's Undermain Theatre is cautiously/optimistically releasing its 2021-22 season anyway.
"While it is our hope to be able to offer live performances to a reduced capacity of socially distanced audiences, we will evaluate putting on live performances based on the status of the pandemic," says artistic director Bruce DuBose. "The health and safety of our audience, cast, crew and staff is our top priority."
For its 38th season, Undermain is premiering new works (some rescheduled due to the pandemic) and introducing an entire new music series.
Opening the season is a co-production with the Danielle Georgiou Dance Group (Georgiou is Undermain's associate artistic director) called Stronger Than Arms. An adaptation of Aeschylus’s Seven Against Thebes done in the inimitable style of DGDG, and co-written by Justin Locklear, this world premiere dives into the spiritual and political burdens placed on women.
As the generational conflicts of territory and birthright ravage Theban society and the cities around them, the chorus of women is divided, revealing their individual conflicts, motivations, and allegiances. It runs September 16-October 2, 2021, with streaming available October 3-17, 2021.
Next, Undermain is reviving Conor McPherson’s St. Nicholas, the theater's most viewed streaming production which screened last fall. The live performance will add a vivid soundscape and lighting design as the unnamed narrator (played by DuBose) of McPherson’s chillingly entertaining play weaves a story of modern-day vampires in London. It runs October 20-November 7, 2021.
March brings the return of the Whither Goest Thou America festival of new play readings, with works by up-and-coming playwrights Zander Pryor (Parent, Legal Guardian, Angel, Other) and Erin Malone Turner (Spaced Out), as well as a new play from Undermain company member Len Jenkin (Psalm 151). The festival runs March 12-27, 2022.
In June, audiences will finally see the long-postponed regional premiere of Lonesome Blues, a meditation on the life and songs of blues legend Blind Lemon Jefferson by Alan Govenar and Akin Babatundé. Discovered on a Deep Ellum street corner in 1925, Jefferson made more than 80 records over the next four years, becoming one the most prolific and influential performers of his generation and propelling the growth of rhythm and blues, soul, doo-wop, rap, and hip-hop.
Songs and monologues bring to life the voice of Blind Lemon Jefferson, his community, and his musical contemporaries, including Blind Willie Johnson, Lillian Glinn, Hattie Hudson, Bobbie Cadillac, and Lead Belly — all coming together in Jefferson's mind on the day of his death on December 19, 1929, in Chicago. It runs June 15-July 3, 2022.
New this season is the In Concert Undermain series, offering Saturday night concerts by Ryan Berg and the Velvet Ears (November 13, 2021), singer/songwriter Jess Garland (February 19, 2022), and Open Classical (April 23, 2022). Each concert will also be offered as a streaming video.
"Undermain will continue to monitor CDC, Dallas County, and its own health and safety consultants on safety protocols throughout the season," says DuBose. "This fall, masks will be required in the theater, as well at temperature checks upon arrival. Together, we can stay safe, enjoy cutting-edge performance, and find our way back to the art of live theater."
Subscriptions and single tickets are available at www.undermain.org.