“We have party in our name? We think theatre’s a party and we want our audiences to think so to,” chuckles House Party Theatre’s Creative Director Taylor Harris, his resonant, rich voice rumbling with glee. He’s playing the title role of the company’s inaugural production of a sweet little play by William Shakespeare, Macbeth, running October 27 through 31. He urges longtime Bard fans and virgin viewers alike to fully engage with the company’s fresh take on this seasonally appropriate macabre classic. House Party Theatre’s vision is “to unite and develop an independent network of creative, self-generating individuals (artists) who insist on providing the best work, because that’s what a paying audience deserves.” Harris affirms this production will embody this vision.
Q&A by Alexandra Bonifield with Taylor Harris:
House Party Theatre is “an independent theatre company specializing in non-traditional theatre events”; what is its genesis and modus operandi?
House Party Theatre emerged when SMU grad Chris McCreary worked for a while in the commercial pro scene in LA. He found himself drawn to produce quality live theatre in simple, alternative spaces with actors he resonated with about art, without all the commercial expense and trappings. He returned to Dallas with a mission in 2014, to create a company of creatives dedicated to producing non-traditional theatre that could be performed in people’s living rooms. All we need is an open space, good actors and scripts and an eager, receptive audience. We perform everything from published scripts to original plays to devised commissioned work crafted to fit special themes or needs. Chris put the business together with Ted Gwara, Sarah Hamilton and Kristin Kelso, with me, Taylor, coming on later as creative director. Right now about 20 artists are involved with House Party. We’re for profit. We welcome shareholders and investors. Let’s spread the wealth and party!
What brought you into House Party? In early 2015, I met Chris McCreary during the 2nd year of my SMU MFA. Founding HPT member Sarah Hamilton contacted me to play Lee in Sam Shepard’s True West. It’s been my Dallas theatre home since then.
In 2016 House Party performed in the regionally respected Festival of Independent Theatres, an original work by HPT CFO Ted Gwara, which you directed. Was that a worthy experience in a conventional setting? Absolutely! Wealth Management was a blast. Our first big step out into the mainstream theatre scene. We got to work with some new actors who are established in the community, widening our reach and rep in the region. Beautiful, athletic, ferocious, red-haired Lindsay Ryan came to “party” with us at FIT, who now plays a Lesbian MacDuff in Macbeth. We look forward to participating in FIT again at some point.
And that brings us to “The Scottish Play”. Talk about Macbeth: Why this play and now, and what can audiences anticipate with your production? I have wanted to play the lead in Macbeth for some time now. The role presents challenges, thematic arcs and physicality that both appeal to and fit me. I’m a big guy. I like working from the heart. It’s an edgy 90-minute contemporary version. I adapted it in conjunction with Chris. Our double-cast ensemble of 10 includes 6 women and 4 men. Part of our spin on it. The three witches also play thanes, acting out against God and humanity, their own mischievous agenda. The opportunistic Macbeth leaps in because they tell him he can’t fail. That he can’t fail, like he’s immortal. He buys it. His motivations? He’s described as “worthy” Macbeth, alongside “noble” Banquo. Macbeth has no children, but Banquo has Fleance. And so does Duncan. Macbeth has always accepted his status, not ever destined to be king. “But If I could become king tomorrow…” when the witches tell him so? He feels he has earned it, Macbeth is a wild card. Doesn’t play by any rules. A true usurper. With disaster leading him down that gruesome path, along with the conniving witches. Ted Gwara plays Banquo. We look like we’re out of Game of Thrones together. Very respected Dean Random does our fight choreography. I love the movement aspect. It’s testosterone-driven grappling, dirty fighting. Gritty, real. Our witches have an urban warfare/ Kurdish rebel vibe. And Katy Smaczniak as Lady Macbeth with her striking features and strong, husky voice, brings strength to the role, a balance to evil and darkness that matches mine as her husband. The ghost of Banquo will walk at the banquet. And we have special way of dealing with the dagger scene, no spoilers here! You have to come see it.
Where does it all take place? The first four shows take place at Encore Park by the downtown Dallas Farmers Market (508 Park Ave. 75201) then we move to Oak Cliff for our Monday night Halloween show (2516 N. Beckley Ave 75208) with the Hunt Bridge in the background. Tickets are $15. Come in costume, get a discount. Stay to party and visit with us with a live band after each performance. It’s going to be a vital production, full of magic and evil, true to the spirit and sense of Shakespeare’s stunning play. All are welcome.
Call (214) 769-4688