The Show Must Go On

Dallas' Festival of Independent Theatres signs on for virtual encore

Dallas' Festival of Independent Theatres signs on for virtual encore

Plant Mom from Very Good Dance Theatre
Are you a Plant Mom? Photo courtesy of VGDT
Daylan Hillis in Space starring Jeff Swearingen
Jeff Swearingen is Daylan Hillis in Space. Photo courtesy of Audacity Theatre Lab
Strike starring Jeff Colangelo
Jeff Colangelo plays the stage manager in Strike!. Photo courtesy of Vena Cava Productions
Plant Mom from Very Good Dance Theatre
Daylan Hillis in Space starring Jeff Swearingen
Strike starring Jeff Colangelo

Usually the Festival of Independent Theatres, or FIT as the area's longest-running theater festival is commonly known, is a Dallas summer tradition.

Audiences fill the Bath House Cultural Center for short plays presented in pairs, produced by companies that typically don't have a permanent home. Audience members even collect pins that show off which shows they've seen, displaying them on the lanyards that hold their FIT passes.

Obviously, that didn't happen this year. But fear not, because FIT is going online and on-demand October 8-31.

The 22nd year includes original works, dance, comedy, drama, and more, all performed by some of FIT audiences' favorite artists. Two-show blocks are still available for one low ticket price, so viewers can try out something new.

The showcases productions include:

Strike! from Vena Cava Productions
Written by Zoe Kerr, directed by Kerr and Jeff Colangelo, and starring Collangelo, this one-man show follows a stage manager as he slowly loses his sanity during previews for a sure-to-be-doomed production of The Tell-Tale Heart: The Musicale. If Kerr and Colangelo sound familiar, that's because they just scooped up several DFW Critics Forum Awards for their drive-in show, Everything Will Be Fine.

Plant Mom from Very Good Dance Theatre
A woman, at home alone with her plants, explores feelings of isolation, loneliness, distance, and the longing for connection that many have recently grown to know more intimately. Sound like anyone you know right now? Created by the VGDT ensemble and starring Valerie Collins, William Acker, Elania Alspach, Colby Calhoun, and Danielle Georgiou.

Daylan Hillis in Space from Audacity Theatre Lab
Brad McEntire is a festival staple, regularly popping up with new works and often starring in them, too. Here, however, he's the director and co-playwright with Jeff Hernandez, and it's Jeff Swearingen (another DFW staple) who stars as a security guard who feels under-appreciated in his job at a top secret government facility. One night, his otherwise boring shift is interrupted by an encounter with strange intruders and a chance to show what he is really capable of.

3X3: Three Short Scenes from Pre-Modern Playwrights from Leos Ensemble
Nick Leos, another recent Critics Forum winner, directs this trio that includes An Introduction by Margaret Cavendish (c.1662), To the Lady Anne by Æmilia Bassano Lanier (1611) , and Votes for Women! by Elizabeth Robins (1907). This triple bill explores traditional themes of art, inclusion, and identity from a decidedly feminist perspective and features Carissa Aguila, Taylor Mercado Owen, Blake Seabourn, Kelli J. Howard, Caitlin Chapa, and Jon Garrard.

Redeemer Mine from Lily & Joan
A virtual version of the National New Play Network offering and 2015 O'Neil National Playwrights Conference finalist written by J.C. Pankratz, this has been adapted for the screen  by Pankratz, Abigail Birkett, Emily P. Faith. It focuses on Gloria, who returns home after her sister is caught cremating their mother, the prophet of a small-town doomsday cult.

Up the Down Ladder from Laughter League
Conceived and performed by Dick Monday and Tiffany Riley, two eccentric humans deal with isolation by inventing an elaborate story about the infestation of their home by a royal family and their followers. Things soon grow frenzied and a series of farcical chases, violent arguments, and ribald accusations ensue, culminating in a surprising yet tender conclusion brought about by the eviction of these imaginary royals.

Tickets for FIT go on sale September 25, at $12 for a two-show block and $30 for a Festival pass.