MBS Productions begins 7 Plays in 7 Days theater festival tonight at Stone Cottage in Addison

Mark-Brian Sonna will be undergoing an ambitious theater project in, oh, about five hours. Tonight begins the first of a week’s worth of new plays and staged readings for the inaugural 7 Plays in 7 Days festival. Each weeknight at 8, MBS Productions will put on a new show or reading, but if school nights are too tough to make it, all the new shows will play throughout Saturday and Sunday.

All productions will be at the Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison.

Here is the official word from MBS:

7 World premieres will be presented from Monday, Sept. 19 through Sunday Sept. 25.  Every night, Monday– Sunday at 8 p.m., a new play will be presented.  On Saturday and Sunday, throughout the day the plays will be presented on a rotation basis should audience members wish to see several of the plays within one day.

The plays will be either fully mounted productions, or fully rehearsed staged readings.

Tickets for the event will be $14 per performance or $50 fora festival pass which will give you full access to all the plays.  To purchase tickets or a festival pass go to www.MBSProductions.net.

MBS Productions 2010/11 or 2011/12 Season Pass holders can use their punch card to attend any of the performances or if they may simply present the card and purchase the tickets at half off!

Below is the full schedule.

—  Rich Lopez

Pride Performing Arts Fest wraps up

Uptown Players’ inaugural performing arts festival, timed to coincide with Dallas Pride, was a risky venture, if only in training theatergoers to seek out new plays mid-week and in repertory. But the experiment has paid off so far; co-producer Craig Lynch reported that most of the performances in the upstairs Frank’s Place space were complete or near sell-outs last weekend. Good for them, but even better for audiences, getting to see Paul Rudnick’s hilarious New Century, where Lulu Ward gives the best performances I’ve seen on a stage this year, and a fully-dressed staged reading of the lesbian melodrama Last Summer at Bluefish Cove — both of which you can still see one more time (New Century on Saturday at 4 p.m., Bluefish on Friday at 8 p.m.). The whole event wraps up Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., with a cabaret performance RSVP Vacations vets by Amy Armstrong and Freddy Allen, pictured.

— A.W.J.

All performances at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Through Sept. 17. UptownPlayers.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

A ‘River’ runs through it

Dallas is the backdrop for actress-playwright Regina Taylor’s new trilogy

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer stevencraiglindsey@me.com

Actress and Dallas native Regina Taylo
HOME AGAIN | Actress and Dallas native Regina Taylor comes home for inspiration for her new plays.

THE TRINITY RIVER PLAYS
Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St.
Nov. 5–Dec. 5 (in previews through Nov. 11). $15–$85.
DallasTheaterCenter.org.

……………………………………..

For Dallas native Regina Taylor, it was important to set The Trinity River Plays in her hometown. It’s something she intimately knows, which allows her characters to be grounded in a reality that’s close to home physically and spiritually.

“It’s not autobiographical, but it is set at home,” she says. “And that is as palpable as the womb in terms of identity.”

Dramatic storytelling is nothing new for Taylor, whose previous work as a playwright include Crowns and Drowning Crow. She’s also an accomplished actress with an amazing résumé spanning theater, television and feature films. She was the first black woman to play Juliet in Broadway’s Romeo and Juliet, but is probably best known for her role as Lilly Harper in the television series I’ll Fly Away, for which she won a Golden Globe and two Emmy nominations. More recently, she starred in CBS’ The Unit alongside Dennis Haysbert.

Yet even with her acting success, writing has always been one of Taylor’s truest loves.

“I started as a writer from as far back as I can remember,” she recalls. “I was writing my own children’s stories when I was little and it was with the encouragement of my mother who wanted me to live a creative life and empower me with the possibilities in terms of creating my own worlds. That changes your perspective on how you face the world and move through the world. It’s something I truly cherish.”

The trilogy consists of three plays, Jar Fly, Rain and Ghost(story), which unfold sequentially at each performance in the Dallas Theater Center production, co-produced with Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.

They follow the life of Iris Sparks, who is a writer, as she moves through these defining transforming moments in her life.

In Jar Fly, we see her when she turns 17 — the same age when jar flies (cicadas) go from little grubby worms living underground to insects climbing up a tree in the dark until the light of day hits it and it can shed its skin and spread its wings.

“It has this incredible voice that’s jarring,” Taylor says, “so you have this young woman trying to find her voice as a writer and a human being. It is the occurrences of this day that take her on this journey that will absolutely transform her life. And it’s what we do with these obstacles, this hard rain that inevitably comes in every life, many times and many seasons, and how we move through that.”

The second play, set 17 years later, focuses on that same hard rain.

“Iris is ready to face another storm as she’s 34 years old. It’s after the disintegration of her marriage and the diagnosis of her mother with cancer. You see this mother and daughter taking this journey together. And with that, there’s a transformation. Do we run away from the hard rain, try to outrun it, or do we stand our ground and take the nourishment from it to grow? We’re tested by life. How we meet those tests on a daily basis defines who we are. It’s an exploration of the human spirit and the tenacity of the human spirit.”

The trilogy closes with Ghost(story), which takes place the day before Iris’ mother’s funeral, then offers a glimpse at what her life is like — again, 17 years later.

“She’s trying to figure out where she’s going to go to move forward. And in that she wrestles with and embraces her ghosts. And that’s what we do. Our past is our shadows. Moving forward, we’re always circling back to deal with and wrestle with our ghosts,” explains Taylor.

Taylor wants audiences to embrace the humor and warmth of her Trinity River Plays, but most importantly, she wants to transport them to another place — even if the stories are set just a few miles from the Wyly.

“You have this arc, this journey, this development of the human spirit,” she says. “I think there’s poetry to the pieces.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Best Bets • 07.16.10

Saturday 07.17

Happy birthday to you, GayBingo
Our favorite game turns nine years old this year and to help celebrate, Kidd Kraddick in the Morning cohost Kellie Raspberry comes in to host Not Another GayBingo. The GB peeps also want you to dress up for the birthday party or maybe it’s a bribe. They will offer discounts to anyone dressed in drag.

DEETS: Rose Room inside Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 5 p.m. $25. RCDallas.org.

Sunday 07.18

Alice is looking a little FIT lately
The Festival of Independent Theatres is back, featuring eight local theaters and a slew of new plays. We’re curious to see how company White Rock Pollution will convey its retelling of Alice in Wonderland that looks to be a whole lot darker than the original, and in real-life 3-D, unlike that Johnny Depp movie.

DEETS: Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Through Aug. 7. $12–$16. ATTPAC.org

Thursday 07.22

You won’t forget this lady’s Haus party
The last time we saw Gaga perform in Dallas was at the Round-Up when she was another club singer finding her audience. And boy did she. She comes back arena style, selling out many of large venues, and the gays have followed her through to superstar status. For two nights, AAC becomes the Haus of Gaga.

DEETS: American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave. July 22–23. 8 p.m. $49–$175. Ticketmaster.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 16, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas