This week in the Art&Seek Spotlight, we’re solving a mystery in Oak Cliff. TeCo Theatrical Productions launches its new season with A Medal for Murder. The show is a comedic con-game about a dead soldier’s burial that is full of twists and turns.
The play was written by a pair of Dallas playwrights, Darryl W.R. Allara and Kenneth Freehill. And these two guys know a lot about all things military. Allara is a Vietnam veteran who entertained himself and his fellow troops by staging plays out in the field. During TeCo’s season-preview breakfast last Friday, he talked about the first show he produced, which used a flat-bed pickup truck for a stage and the coordinated efforts of six jeeps to provide the lighting. Allara says he would signal each driver when to turn his lights on and off. “We had cross-faded lights and everything,” he said.
Fast forward a few years. Allara received a scholarship from the military to study theater after he was discharged. After living in Los Angeles for 20 years staging dinner theater murder mysteries, he and Freehill moved to Dallas so that Freehill could head up the local office of the Screen Actors Guild.
When that shop was moved to Houston, the pair embarked on another adventure. Through old military connections, the duo began to receive commissions to stage plays at Army bases around the country. In most cases, they show up on a Monday, and soldiers and their families are welcome to participate. Performances are on Friday and Saturday.
They’ve now traveled to all 50 states and 22 countries putting on their shows; in January they head off for a six-week tour of Germany.
If you see them at A Medal for Murder this weekend, ask them about their Army job. They’re two of the best storytellers you’ll ever meet, and you’ll feel like you discovered a whole world that you didn’t know existed.