Starting today, Dallas is the epicenter for national theater. That’s because hundreds of people from theater companies across the country are in town for a conference.This is a great opportunity for local theaters to strut their stuff. It’s also a good time for the rest of us to take in a show.
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More than 700 theaters belong to Theater Communications Group. The organization throws this annual conference so its members can get to know each other and discuss common challenges.
Undermain Theatre is a TCG member. Its artistic director, Katherine Owens, is on the conferences local host committee.
“The whole entire American theater gets to see itself for three days in one place,” she says. “So we all get to meet one another and we get to talk about best practices and different problems and confer about things.”
They’ll talk about the usual issues theaters face like fundraising and audience engagement. But they’ll also share tips on bringing diversity to the stage and setting up residencies for playwrights.
Also important: the national theater community will get an up-close look at what’s happening on North Texas stages. Several companies have timed productions to piggyback on the conference.
“I think people would be surprised the kind of programming that goes on down here,” says Kitchen Dog Theater co-artistic director Tina Parker. “It’s not just all musicals and the tried-and-true. There’s a lot of risk-taking that people are able to take.”
Kitchen Dog is hosting the , a group of about 30 regional theaters dedicated to producing new plays. As part of that program, Kitchen Dog is staging the world premiere of Se Llama Christina by Octavio Solis. Meanwhile, the Undermain is bringing back An Iliad, an acclaimed adaptation of the classic it staged in the fall. And plenty of other new shows can be seen at the Festival of Independent Theatres at the Bath House Cultural Center.
All of this means local theatergoers also have a lot to chose from.
“When you go and see a show at FIT or here at Kitchen Dog or at the Undermain, more than likely sitting next to you will be theater professionals from around the country,” Parker says. “So, it should be a really exciting, dynamic week to take in the arts if you’re a theatergoer.”