Many Happy Returns for Festival's Nineteenth Year
Intrepid theatergoers know the place to get their fix of summertime art is the Bath House Cultural Center and the annual Festival of Independent Theatres, presented each summer against the beautiful shores of White Rock Lake. The community spirit and creative risk taking that exemplify the festival are the reason artists and audiences alike come back year after year to participate in the cultural event of the summer. This year proves to be no different as two festival founders join two recently revived organizations, two recent festival participants and two newcomers in a unique celebration of theatre, visual art and live music, highlighted by an anniversary remounting of a long-time festival favorite.
The Festival of Independent Theatres has nurtured a number of hits over the years, none more popular than our 2007 offering of Matt Lyle’s The Boxer. This silent film made for the stage marks the highly anticipated return of Bootstraps Comedy Theater, who have not produced in Dallas since 2007. The company moved briefly (along with its artistic directors Matt and Kim Lyle ) to Chicago shortly after The Boxer’s premiere; but now they're back with a tenth anniversary production of their delightful, family-friendly romp featuring most of the original cast. This quirky case of boy meets girl is physical storytelling at its best, as mistaken identities and and a hapless hero help to drive this wordless, yet masterful comedy. The Boxer opens this year’s festival on July 14th, 2017, alongside another local company making their long-awaited return after a substantial hiatus. The award winning Risk Theater Initiative presents Sherry Jo Ward’s heartfelt narrative Stiff, in which Ms. Ward uses humor and her own, often sardonic, charm to enlighten audiences to Stiff Person Syndrome, a one in a million disease from which Ms. Ward herself suffers.
The balance of the festival's first week will be populated by two long-standing companies who together have more FIT experience than all of our other companies combined. Joining us for their nineteenth consecutive appearance is festival founding member WingSpan Theatre, Co. presenting Edward Albee’s Finding the Sun, as fellow founder Echo Theatre marks their seventeenth appearance with Trace of Arc by Ali Smith. Finding the Sun will be the inaugural production in WingSpan’s year-long tribute to the recently deceased Mr. Albee, a playwright who’s work has been a favorite of WingSpan Artistic Director Susan Sargeant over the years. Trace of Arc by Scottish playwright Ali Smith explores the ideas of social justice through the framework of a modern day parable.
The festival's second weekend brings two more returning companies alongside two groups hoping to set up many future returns with their FIT debuts. Previous festival participant Audacity Theatre Lab premieres an intriguing modern adaptation of Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, paired with Jeff Swearingen’s The Caveman Play, presented by Fun House Theatre and Film’s teenage offshoot The Basement. The festival’s final pairing will see L.I.P. Service Productions, responsible for last year’s hit The Good Thief, present Van Quattro’s haunting paean to adolescence Tommy Cain, next to the clown focused and folklore inspired Fiddler’s Cave, presented by Dustin Curry and Company.
The Festival of Independent Theatres was founded in 1998 in an effort to aid local theater companies without a permanent performance space. The eight shows are all one-act plays, paired in two-show blocks and will continue in rotating repertory through August 5th.
In addition to the eight main stage productions, the festival also includes the art exhibitions Recollective and Whimsical, as well as a variety of live music, including for the fourth time, the galley sessions of jazz musician Caleb Veazey, presented weekend afternoons in the Bath House art gallery and FIT Underground, live music and light refreshments available weekend evenings in the Bath House’s shore level performance space.
Festival passes range from $60-$70. Individual tickets are $18. Handling charges will apply. The festival runs from July 14-August 5, 2017 at the Bath House Cultural Center. Tickets and passes will go on sale in late June and can be procured by calling 1-800-617-6904.