Season Announcement

Striking Dallas theater co. raises the mercury with its 2018-19 season

Striking Dallas theater co. raises the mercury with its 2018-19 season

Lizzie at Firebrand Theatre in Chicago
A scene from Lizzie at Firebrand Theatre in Chicago. Photo by Marisa KM

In its inaugural season, Imprint Theatreworks covered an American classic, a hard-rock tale of lust and murder, a historical dramedy, and a West End musical hit, along with its First Impressions local playwrights festival. For its second season, audiences can expect a contemporary classic, a hard-rock tale of wrath and murder, a quirky comedy, and an immersive song cycle. Hey, if it works, don't change it.

Three of the company's shows will be regional premieres and another three are world premieres by local playwrights, helmed by participants in the new Directors Development Program. The entire season, branded "Mercury Rising," is inspired by local and national events and focuses on women taking charge of their own destinies.

"Our second season gives the microphone to women and it demands we are heard," says co-founder and co-artistic director Ashley H. White. "It speaks bold stories of self-discovery and awakening. It weeps when we wrong our loved ones. It laughs as we are forced to turn the mirror on ourselves. It screams when it's pushed too far. It has a voice that is loud and clear and that voice is saying: you are your own before you are anyone else's."

First up is In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), Sarah Ruhl's comedy about intimacy, awakening, and, most importantly, equality. Set in the 1880s at the dawn of the age of electricity, the play centers on a doctor and his wife and how new office therapy — using "devices" to treat women for imagined hysteria — affects their entire household. Marianne Galloway directs at the Bath House Cultural Center from January 11-26, 2019

The second annual First Impressions Festival for Local Playwrights returns to the Bath House Cultural Center on February 20-23, 2019, giving DFW-area scribes the chance to have their works read and enjoyed by audiences, directors, and producers. The festival will also feature panels, talk-back sessions, cocktail hours, and networking opportunities geared toward providing awareness, opportunities, and support for those playwrights we have right here at home. Submissions will begin being accepted in the fall.

Dave Malloy's musical song cycle Ghost Quartet is next, making its area premiere after the tour stopped in DFW as part of Off Broadway on Flora in 2016. Malloy is the creator of the recent Broadway sensation Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, and this intimate piece is just as immersive and unusual. Four friends drink and tell interwoven narratives spanning seven centuries, following Rose Read and Pearl White, who repeatedly cross paths — sometimes as strangers, sometimes as sisters, sometimes as lovers, sometimes as mother and daughter — in an experience that questions love and defines forgiveness and regret. White directs, with Adam C. Wright as music director, at the Bath House Cultural Center May 24-June 8, 2019.

Kentucky is a biting comedy from a distinctive new voice in theater: Leah Nanako Winkler, recipient of the 2018 Yale Prize for Drama. The themes of identity, religion, and love collide in this coming-of-age story with a kick, complete with a chorus and a talking cat. Hiro is an Asian-American, self-made woman in New York. She is also estranged from her dysfunctional family in Kentucky. When her little sister, a born-again Christian, decides to marry at 22, Hiro takes it upon herself to do whatever she can to stop the wedding and salvage any shred of hope she had for her sister's future. Imprint co-founder and co-artistic director Joe Messina directs, with assistant direction by Christopher Lew, August 2-17, 2019, at a space to be announced.

Three plays from the 2018 and 2019 First Impressions Festivals will be mounted as full productions for the Mainstage Showcase, with workshopping and development opportunities in between. In addition, the new Director Development Program will provide three new directors with opportunities to network with and be mentored by established Dallas directors from various theaters, shadow rehearsals, workshop their chosen scripts, and ultimately direct their Dallas debuts with each world premiere. That will all take place September 13-27, 2019.

The season closes out with Lizzie, a musical by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Tim Maner, and Alan Stevens Hewitt that reimagines the bloody legend of Lizzie Borden with four women fronting a rock band and set to a blistering score with rage, sex, betrayal, and bloody, bloody murder. White directs, with musical direction by Rebecca Lowrey, October 25-November 9, 2019.

"Our first season was a season of dreamers and warriors," says Messina. "Women and men longing for what they loved and the life they so fiercely felt they deserved. We strove to tell stories that ignited dialogue about our place in history, where we stood today, and then how we will play a role in the future. We believe 2019 will continue that journey, with our provocative and bold second season."