TheaterJones

AWARD: 2018-2019 Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum Awards

AWARD: 2018-2019 Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum Awards

outstanding director

Mara Richards Bim and Tim JohnsonCrossing the Line, Cry Havoc Theater Company and Kitchen Dog Theater

outstanding new play or musical

Crossing the Line, ensemble of Cry Havoc Theater Company and Kitchen Dog Theater

outstanding performance by an ensemble cast

Crossing the Line, Cry Havoc Theater Company and Kitchen Dog Theater

special citation

To Mara Richards BimTim JohnsonCry Havoc Theater Company, and Kitchen Dog Theater for creating Crossing the Line, a thorough and compelling look at the immigration controversy devised through extensive research that included a trip to the border to gather facts and opinions from a wide range of sources. Bim and Johnson edited hundreds of pages of interview transcripts into a narrative that delved deeply into the immigration issue.

Truth Be Told

Truth Be Told

The soul-stirring devised work Crossing the Line, a co-production by Cry Havoc Theater Company and Kitchen Dog Theater, is a piece of "necessary theater" at this time of chaos and crisis.

“Necessary theater” is a phrase that repeatedly came to mind as I watched Crossing the Line, a co-production from Cry Havoc Theater Company and Kitchen Dog Theater. Choose eight talented Dallas-area high school performing arts students, take them to the contested southern border of Texas to interview detainees who seek refuge and asylum in the U.S. (but instead are prosecuted as criminals), and what do you get? 

An eminently important and artistically sophisticated verbatim docudrama. Every single word uttered in the piece is a direct quote from one of numerous sources. Every. Single. Word. Truth be told.

Theater with No Borders

Theater with No Borders

There are images that can’t be unseen: a president’s head exploding as he travels a downtown Dallas street…a jet piercing the high wall of a skyscraper…a girl, naked and terrified, running from American napalm bombings in Vietnam.

Add to those the photograph of a young father from El Salvador and his toddler daughter—Oscar and Valeria—floating face down in reeds at the edge of the Rio Grande River, the child’s small body tucked for safety under his T-shirt.

They died trying to cross the line—between danger and safety, between fear and freedom. And whatever political views we hold as individuals, the images piling up along our southern border are of a despair and desperation that call out to our humanity for action.

The discussion that skirts teenagers' real sexual issues becomes a hive of stinging questions in Cry Havoc's Sex Ed in AT&T's Elevator Project.

The discussion that skirts teenagers' real sexual issues becomes a hive of stinging questions in Cry Havoc's Sex Ed in AT&T's Elevator Project.

Let me tell you 'bout the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees and sexually transmitted disease, or STD. Say, what?

Sex Ed, Cry Havoc Theater Company's latest 70-minute devised play is no romantic Buddy Holly song. Not by a long shot. The young actors in the play also collaborated on the script, and they want truthful, accurate information about human sexuality and their own bodies. What about emotional relations and responsibilities? What's safe sex? What about birth control? What does "consent" really mean? What if I'm gay or trans?

Food Channeling

Food Channeling

Ten young women in pastel tie-dyed T-shirts and black pants enter arguing. They take their seats in a row of folding black chairs facing the audience at the South Dallas Cultural Center's performance space. They fuss about the menu, about the people invited, about the safety of the surroundings.  Everything. This cacophony of complaints rises to a crescendo, subsides, and one especially peevish girl asks, "Can I get a to-go box?" Blackout.

This compelling five-minute opening scene in Cry Havoc Theater Company's new devised work, From the Table: A Celebration of Food, is funny and familiar to everybody who gathers with family, friends and anybody else at the table to sit down and eat a meal. So begins a revealing, 70-minute work, a rising tide of tightly choreographed scenes, that touches on the history and wildly various expressions of our deeply societal and intimately personal relationship with food. 

Q&A: Mara Richards Bim

Q&A: Mara Richards Bim

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.

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.

Co-Productions with Kitchen Dog Theater

Co-Productions with Kitchen Dog Theater

Cry Havoc Theater Company and Kitchen Dog Theater will co-present CHTC's Shots Fired with a new work this summer.

The collaboration to bring these two shows to audiences this summer marks the first official partnership between Cry Havoc and Kitchen Dog. “When I founded Cry Havoc Theater in 2014, Kitchen Dog was the first theater I approached about a possible collaboration,” said Richards Bim. “I’m a huge fan of the stories they tell, the quality of their productions, and their commitment to cultivating new voices in the theater. I’m honored and grateful for their partnership and commitment to bring Shots Fired back and for their invaluable support in the development of The Great American Sideshow.”

“Given both of our companies’ proclivities for new work and timely, provocative subject matter, this partnership seemed like a natural fit to me”, says Co-Artistic Director Tina Parker. “I was very moved by the performance of Shots Fired I saw this past winter and it is my sincere hope that KDT can help increase visibility for this amazing young company.”