Special citations were given to Cry Havoc Theater Company, a youth company, for the compellingly researched and performed Babel, about gun violence; Amphibian Stage Productions for its Comedy Series and Trinity Shakespeare Festival, for 10 years of producing professional, quality Shakespeare at Texas Christian University.
The new play from the high school performers of Cry Havoc Theater is informed by dozens of hours of conversations on our gun violence epidemic.
Like many people across the country, high school students are talking about guns. And Cry Havoc, a Dallas theater company made up of youth actors and adult advisers, is listening.
Babel, the company’s new play about gun violence, is drawn from dozens of hours of interviews with gun supporters, gun control advocates, elected officials, and the parents of children lost in school shootings.
The three-hour production, which wraps up its run this weekend at the Winspear’s Hamon Hall, comes a year and a half after Cry Havoc gained national attention for Shots Fired, a documentary-style theater piece about the fatal shooting of five Dallas police officers in July 2016. This time around, Cry Havoc worked in conjunction with AT&T Performing Art’s Center’s Elevator Project, an initiative that platforms art and artists too often left out of the mainstream.
Several months ago, Cry Havoc Theater Company set out to create a play about America's gun debate. Now, the show's in it's final week of production. Hear how they took real-life experiences and turned them into a play.
After months of research, interviews and rehearsals, the teen actors of Cry Havoc Theater Company are slipping into their costumes and preparing to perform their original play about guns and gun violence in America.
Art&Seek has been following the making of “Babel.” In this week’s Spotlight, we travel through time to some of the earliest rehearsals in order to show you how they got ready for opening night.
The founder of Cry Havoc Theatre Company on the creation of Babel, the documentary play about gun violence opening in the Elevator Project.
Dallas — Mara Richards Bim is the founder of Cry Havoc, a director, an adjunct faculty member at Eastfield College, and a consultant for Dallas ISD’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Her Dallas directing credits include Cry Havoc’s The (out)Siders Project, Shut Up and Listen!, Shots Fired (co-director) and The Great American Sideshow, all developed with the teen performers of Cry Havoc, who conduct interviews and create devised, verbatim theater. Along with members of the Cry Havoc Theatre Company, she has created Babel: A Play About Guns, running July 5-15 at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas as part of the Elevator Project Series.
Mara spoke with us about the importance of the work the teens of Dallas are doing through theatre.
There’s a new play in Dallas about the American debate over gun violence. But this one’s very different.
Teen actors take on the roles of real-life victims and gun advocates. In this week’s State of the Arts, Art & Seek’s Anne Bothwell talks with reporters Hady Mawajdeh and Jerome Weeks (who’ve been following the production for six months) about what it took for these teenagers to create the show called ‘Babel.’
Anne: Jerome, Cry Havoc Theater Company started work on this play in January. Why so long to create a play?
Jerome: Their process is what’s called devised or documentary theater. That means they start without a script, they start from scratch.
For ‘Babel,’ they interviewed dozens of people on different sides in our national gun debate and then used the transcripts from those interviews to hammer out their own script.
Some 7000 donated shoes evoke human loss in Cry Havoc's new art installation
The teen theater company, Cry Havoc, has been developing a play about gun violence called “Babel.” More than that, they’ve built a set for their play as a public art installation anyone can see – without the show. The room-sized artwork uses video projections – plus lots and lotsof shoes.
At Hamon Hall in the Winspear Opera House, volunteers sort through huge piles of donated shoes on the floor. Some 7000 shoes.
“There’s sneakers, there’s flip-flops,” says Bart McGeehon, “there’s women’s high heels, there’s hiking boots. There’s baby shoes, a lot of children’s shoes.”
Gun violence, he adds, “touches us all.”
“How do we solve America’s gun violence problem?” “What is your interpretation of the Second Amendment?” “What are your thoughts on the NRA?”
These are the questions a group of teens from Dallas, Texas have been asking strangers over six months—for a play. In Texas, guns are more than a tool, they are an identifying cultural marker. A friendly state to gun owners, Texas is the land of “open carry,” a law that allows firearm owners to carry weapons visibly in public places. You don’t have to drive far to find a gun range, hunting and sporting goods stores, or billboards advertising gun shows. It may be no surprise, but Texans love their guns.
But in recent years, that love has butted up against a growing national conversation on gun control, and calls from the public and politician to curtail gun violence. It is that conflict that Babel was born. Babel is a verbatim theatre work by Cry Havoc Theater Company that presents numerous voices in the gun debate—for, against, or ambivalent. I serve as the associate director and dramaturg for this project. Since the right to own a firearm intersects with multiple sociological issues—such as race, class, gender, healthcare, and religion—Babel focuses less on a metal object and more about how that object intersects with American identity.
Cry Havoc is a youth theatre company that devises theatre with teenagers, who then star in them—participants are 14 to 18 years old. Mara Richards Bim created the company to fill a void for teen performers in Dallas. Unlike other youth theatres, which tend to shy away from controversial topics, Cry Havoc believes teens are capable of much more than simplistic material and should have an artistic outlet to articulate their perspectives on various societal issues.
The teens of Cry Havoc Theater Company don't have an answer for the deadly problem of gun violence. But they do offer a starting point: listen to one another.
Since Jan. 27, that's what teens in the 13-member ensemble have done. They've criss-crossed the country, logging more than 50 interviews with gun owners and people who have lost loved ones to mass shootings, homicides and suicides involving guns.