For its 2020 season, Second Thought Theatre is not only getting four shows (one a world premiere by a local playwright) but also a change in leadership.
After six years at the helm, artistic director Alex Organ will transition out of the position at the end of 2020. Organ was promoted to artistic director in 2014, becoming the company's only single leader in its now-16-year history — the previous leadership structure included artistic ensembles and dual artistic directors.
"I am incredibly proud of the work we've produced over the last five seasons and the strides we've taken toward cultivating local artists," says Organ. "Second Thought has provided me with an artistic home for over half a decade — a rare and remarkable privilege in this business. A tenure of six years feels right, and I am pleased to leave STT in a position of strong artistic and financial health. Second Thought has a bright and vital future in our artistic community, and I'll be excited to continue my work here as a visiting director, actor, or designer. I can't wait to see what the new artistic director brings to the table."
During Organ's leadership, STT adopted Actors Equity Association (AEA) "Small Professional Theatre" status, which allows STT to provide increased wages and health insurance eligibility to AEA members. In 2018, the company also returned to producing four-show seasons. With a focus on producing new and challenging work, his six-year term will see the production of 22 plays, including 15 regional premieres, and four world premieres by Dallas-based playwrights.
"We have made tremendous strides under Alex's leadership and will always be grateful for his exceptional vision and talent," says Joshua D. Terry, STT’s board president. "Because of the artistic and financial strengths that we have built with him, STT will continue to grow and make meaningful, impactful art for years to come."
Plans are already in motion to identify Organ's replacement. Additional details on that and the future of the company will be available in 2020.
But onto the season! It begins with Mlima's Tale by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, set against the backdrop of the black market ivory trade. The play explores complex questions of global consumerism, ancestral history, and human greed when ancient and legendary African elephant Mlima is struck down and his massive tusks stolen as trophies. His ghost is ever-present as the tusks change hands many times and travel the world from Kenya to Vietnam to Beijing. Tiana Kaye Blair will direct in her STT debut, running February 19-March 14, 2020.
After three immensely successful world premieres of his plays in as many years, STT artistic associate Blake Hackler returns to direct the Tennessee Williams classic A Streetcar Named Desire. When Blanche Dubois suddenly arrives in the French Quarter of New Orleans to visit her sister, Stella, she appears to be running from something. The power struggle that unfolds between Blanche and her brother-in-law, Stanley, threatens to reveal dark secrets in her past and shatter the illusions she's created around her life. The role of Stella will be performed by STT artistic associate Jenny Ledel. It runs May 20-June 13, 2020.
Sweetpea by Janielle Kastner marks the company’s fourth world premiere by a Dallas-based playwright since 2016. A couple moves back in together. They fall apart. Their pet birds move into separate cages. They fall in love. Pecking, nesting, and mating ensue. Sweet until it's dark, funny until it's sinister, cozy until it's incestuous, Sweetpea explores the (im)possibility of intimacy and the absurdity of sharing space. Rising director Carson McCain returns to direct, and it runs July 22-August 15, 2020.
The fourth and final show of the season is Samuel Beckett's classic absurdist tragicomedy Endgame. In the wake of some unexplained apocalyptic and catastrophic event, Hamm and his servant, Clov, continue the same impotent and stale routine from day to day. Yet Beckett invites us to discover humor and comedy in the face of their hopelessness, despair, and even certain death. Directed by Alex Organ and featuring Blake Hackler and STT director of operations Drew Wall, Endgame dares us to stare into the abyss at what it means to simply exist … and perhaps what it means to not. It runs September 16-October 10, 2020.
All performances will take place at Bryant Hall, next to the Kalita Humphreys Theater. Single tickets are not available yet, but season subscriptions can be purchased by going online or calling 1-866-811-4111.