Political theatre. Didn’t we just barely survive a year and a half’s worth of non-stop lunacy at operatic pitch? For those who just can’t get enough political soul-bathing, hustle over to TeCo Theatrical Productions (http://www.tecotheater.org) at the Bishop Arts Theater Center to catch the 7th Annual New Play Competition: The Best of Political Theater. Artistic Director and energizing force at TeCo, Teresa Wash, put out the call last year for Dallas regional playwrights to submit their finest-honed political one-acts to compete in this festival: winner to be chosen, appropriately, by popular vote. From nineteen submissions, six were selected for performance in this year’s festival competition. Each offers thought-provoking, poignant and often humorous commentary on major issues that affect all on a scale from the intensely personal to grandly universal.
“If America can elect a black man, I can sleep with one” declares a white character in Richland College professor and founder of Blacken Blues Theater Willie Holmes’ opening one-act Change, dealing with inter-racial issues and tolerance. Holmes deftly mixes humor with serious exploration of a timely subject. Barbara Macchia received a Jerome Foundation Fellowship through The Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, MN, and is a longtime member of the New York Dramatist Guild. The death penalty and a grisly birthday party in celebration of its enactment sober the audience resoundingly in her The Special Schedule. Oak Cliff homeboy, playwright and film and photographic artist Phillip Morales takes on the subject of illegal immigration through the voice and heart of a US citizen in The Son of A Immigrant, a man who brings his solo protest to the steps of Dallas City Hall. lynuslynell returns to the New Play Competition for the 5th time with the hyper-energized The Assassination of Nathaniel Gary Gamarcus Anderson, in which a revved up revival-style pastor admonishes the Rev.’s Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as if they sat among the house audience and rouses the dead. Novelist and accidental playwright Richard Carter brings us a whimsical “what if” play set in the Oval Office with President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton faced with a most unusual request from a undeterred middle –aged constituent, in I Only Need a Few. Rounding out the evening of hot button entertainment is local author, teacher, performer and UT Arlington graduate Paula J. Sanders. In her play, The Valiant Never Taste of Death But Once, a smooth talking, well-dressed African American man personifies a deadly worldwide scourge with such terrifying immediacy it’s hard not to avert the eyes.
No shy performances in the acting ensemble; several appear throughout the evening. Keep watching JuNene K, Heather Pratt, Selma Pinkard, Akron Watson and Brandon Christle, as they glide effortlessly from one well-defined character to another. Aubrey Stephenson’s sonorous singing voice in Holmes’ Change sets the tone of the evening with its melodious soulfulness. We do indeed live in interesting times, as reflected by the depth and scope of these productions.
Who will win the competition’s $1000 and airline tickets? I cast my vote, and I’m not telling. I promise it wasn’t as easy a choice to make as last November’s presidential election. The one-act performances end this Saturday the 28th. Dallas’ Bishop Arts District is the place to go and TeCo Theatrical Production’s The Best of Political Theater is the scene to make. Time for real change….
Tickets: http://www.tecotheater.org 214-948-0716