Student Actors Take On The July Shooting of Five Dallas Police Officers

Student Actors Take On The July Shooting of Five Dallas Police Officers

Now, Cry Havoc Theater works with self-generated plays.

Primarily, yes.

Other theaters use that procedure — locally, for instance, Cara Mia Theatre has done it. But you’re the only company that regularly does this with teenage students. So who are these students and how do you get them to cooperate?

Well, they actually enjoy the creation process. They get more input than if they were just handed a script. So we hold auditions at various high schools around Dallas. We also hold public auditions. And generally, they are active in their theater programs at their schools. And so they are excited to do something that they can’t do in school.

Fired Up

Fired Up

The teen ensemble of Cry Havoc Theater Company creates the compelling ensemble piece Shots Fired, about the Dallas police shootings and responding through art.

I won’t spoil the clever way in which it is staged at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park, but let’s just say that it’s interactive with the audience, but not obtrusive. They use their interviews to get at big issues brought up by the shootings: Black Lives Matter, the clear majority of good cops vs. the much smaller number of bad ones, how the gunman was killed with the bomb, and what it means to rage against the machine. Remember, just days before the tragedy there were police shootings of black men in Baton Rouge and St. Paul, which sparked the Dallas demonstration.

Their Shot

Their Shot

Mara Richards Bim, director of Cry Havoc Theater Company's Shots Fired, on how the teen ensemble interviewed officers, protesters and others after the July 7 Dallas police shootings.

Mara Richards Bim, founder and artistic director of Cry Havoc Theater Company, is committed to providing talented young Dallas teenagers a voice on the stage. Working with young writers and actors, the company produced last year’s fascinating devised theater piece, Shut Up and Listen, as well as Good Kids, a critically applauded work showcased at the Festival of Independent Theatres.

Now Bim and co-director Ruben Carrazana have created a new work based on the violent outcome of a July 7, 2016, peaceful protest rally in Dallas in response to recent police shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers. An African-American Army Reserve veteran ambushed police officers assigned to the rally, killing five and wounding nine officers.

TheaterJones talked with Bim about the process of making Shots Fired, a response based on interviews conducted in the fall of 2016 by local teenagers.

For Shots Fired, Teens Conducted Interviews About July Police Shootings

For Shots Fired, Teens Conducted Interviews About July Police Shootings

July 7, 2016, is a day North Texans will always remember. During a peaceful protest against recent police shootings that left black men dead in Louisiana and Minnesota, a heavily armed man opened fired on police officers working the protest in downtown Dallas. Five officers were killed. Nine were injured. Several civilians were wounded in the attack.

Cry Havoc Theater Company, a relatively new company that focuses on giving teenagers a voice, was in rehearsals for their summer Festival of Independent Theaters show when the attacks happened. The teens were overwhelmed by the story and the shootings. Cry Havoc artistic director Mara Richards Bim decided then that their next show would be a devised piece looking at race relations in Dallas.