Past is Present

Past is Present

For 14 days Cry Havoc Theater Company artistic director Mara Richards Bim worked with seven female and six male actors from seven high schools. They created and rehearsed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. The result was the 70-minute play, A History of Everything, currently playing at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park.

Walking into the Margo Jones space feels like entering a rehearsal space. To the left is an assortment of props, seemingly endless, that have been methodically assembled and organized by Korey Parker. Scrawled butcher block paper scrolls across the walls, present but not particularly noticeable, certainly not legible. The floor is covered with a map of the world that is covered with raised clues of a sort to what will transpire. Lori Honeycutt (technical director) has designed a set that both confirms the what and inserts question marks about the how.

8 Dallas arts groups get a crack at the big stage in AT&T series

8 Dallas arts groups get a crack at the big stage in AT&T series

In exciting news for Dallas' emerging artists as well as the audiences that love them, the AT&T Performing Arts Center is greatly expanding a program that gives them a shot at performing on the big stage. Now in its third season, the program, called the Elevator Project, will nearly double in size, with the number of productions increasing from five to eight. The season begins in September.

First established in 2014, the Elevator Project gives small and emerging arts groups space to perform on ATTPAC's campus, with support from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. Originally it was geared toward theater groups, but grew in the second season to encompass dance, music, and spoken word.

This third season awards slots to eight companies that are brand new to the series. Three productions will be staged in the Studio Theatre, located on the sixth floor of the Wyly Theatre; four productions in Hamon Hall at the Winspear Opera House; and one on the donor reflecting pool in Sammons Park, on the campus of the AT&T Performing Arts Center. All shows are $25 and general admission.

Hashtag Winning

Hashtag Winning

Cry Havoc Theater Company pulls no punches with its latest devised work, the anti-Trump The Great American Sideshow.

Since Nov. 9, 2016, it has been easy to predict that arts-makers would comment on the political moment through louder art. Among the classic plays that theater artists have revived nationally are Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros and Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, absurdist works that are remarkably evocative of the new president. An adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 is on Broadway. Then there’s Julius Caesar, with which New York’s Shakespeare in the Park stirred so much controversy for a Trump-looking title character that outdoor Shakespeare organizations across the country, including Shakespeare Dallas, received death threats.

This year in our area, three original works have been the most pointed in criticism of the current administration and his diehard supporters. Two were at the Festival of Independent Theatres—Audacity Theatre Lab’s adaptation of the Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator, and Jeff Swearingen’s The Caveman Play, performed by young adult outfit The Basement. The latter was a sly, clever commentary on pack mentality and some humans’ refusal to believe in discovery, progress and logic.

Cry Havoc Theater Company’s The Great American Sideshow, directed by Mara Richards Bim, doesn’t even try to veil its indictment of 45. A co-production with Kitchen Dog Theater and using KDT’s current home at the Trinity River Arts Center, the devised work was created by teenagers from high schools across the Metroplex.

The setting: a circus sideshow where the freaks include Fortune Teller (Eboni Bolton), Bird Girl (Zephira Zithri Guimbatan), Bearded Lady (Keyshawn Lefall), Strong Man (Frankie Mars), Noodle Man (Luis Matos), Pop Eye (Tilah McGrway), Pin Cushion (Jordan Mercado), Narcoleptic Chameleon (Sheldrick Pearl), Sword Swallower (Zion Reynolds) and conjoined twins Ruth (Regina Juarez) and Ruth Ann (Michelle Ann Marie). Mother (Trinity Gordon) watches out for young acrobat Lily (fourth grader Maren Bennett). Fabian Rodriguez is a Barker.

The floundering freak show is purchased by a man named Otto Baron (the obvious Trump stand-in who is never seen), who sends Narcissa (Valeria Marin) to help whip things into shape. Most hilariously, Baron has a golden bird named Birdie (De’Aveyon Murphy) who has short, hashtag-ready outbursts that begin with a “tweet, tweet” (see our short video above). Journalist (Mary Bandy) tries to get the story and keeps being stifled by Baron and his supporters.

Teens Produce Remarkably Nuanced, Agenda-Free Play About Last July's Shootings

Teens Produce Remarkably Nuanced, Agenda-Free Play About Last July's Shootings

Be warned: Cry Havoc’s production of Shots Fired opens with gunfire. It’s a jarring beginning to 90 extraordinary minutes of documentary-style theater covering the July 7, 2016, Dallas police shootings by Cry Havoc Theater Company.

Cry Havoc’s teen actors convey as much depth, empathy and emotion as any adult actors onstage in Dallas and likely anywhere. These are kids to watch.

‘Shots Fired’ Hits Close to Home for Dallas Teens

‘Shots Fired’ Hits Close to Home for Dallas Teens

The way the kids of Cry Havoc processed the aftermath of the July shooting was to work throughout the fall of 2016 on a documentary-style devised-theatre piece titled Shots Fired, which premiered in January 2017. To create the piece, Richards Bim, codirector Ruben Carrazana, and the actors tracked down as many people as they could find to interview about the night of the shooting: police officers, community members, therapists, Black Lives Matter supporters, and Blue Lives Matter folks as well. The company is currently remounting the show, in a coproduction with Dallas’s Kitchen Dog Theater, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the shooting.

How teenage actors are bringing the Dallas police ambush to the stage

How teenage actors are bringing the Dallas police ambush to the stage

Last July, Cry Havoc Theater Company’s group of about a dozen teenage actors was preparing for its upcoming summer play Good Kids.

But the July 7 police ambush, which followed a peaceful protest in downtown Dallas, interrupted the young actors' practice. Founder Mara Richards Bim felt it was important to talk to the students about their emotions.