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Dallas Theater Center (DTC), in collaboration with Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts and Ignite/Arts Dallas, and in affiliation with New York City-based The Public Theater’s Public Works and AT&T Performing Arts Center, has announced details for Public Works Dallas, a groundbreaking community engagement and participatory theater project designed to deliberately blur the line between professional artists and Dallas community members.

Five Dallas community organizations are participating in Public Works Dallas, including Jubilee Park and Community Center, Vickery Meadow Learning Center (VMLC), Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT), Bachman Lake Together and City of Dallas Park and Recreation. All will participate in workshops throughout the year culminating in auditions for roles in the Public Works Dallas participatory musical theater production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in March 2017, directed by DTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in the Dallas Arts District. 

The Tempest will feature 200 cast members, only five of whom will be professional actors, including members of DTC’s Diane and Hal Brierley Resident Acting Company. The remaining actors will be residents of Dallas, 100 selected from the five community organizations and 95 from select community cameo groups. 

Public Works Dallas is affiliated with Public Works, an ongoing initiative of The Public Theater that seeks to engage the people of New York by making them creators and not just spectators. Public Works presented The Tempest in 2013 in New York, directed by Public Works Director Lear deBessonet, who was awarded the SMU Meadows Prize in 2015 to bring the program to Dallas, and will be collaborating on the Public Works Dallas project. She notes that participants of Public Works gain not only personal satisfaction but a deeper sense of connection to the city and its people.

“It is at the core about building a radically inclusive vision of the theater,” says deBessonet. “What we found at The Public is that it has changed every aspect of what we do in the best way possible. The self-respect and sense of pride within a community that comes from being in a show that's exquisitely put-together and well-received is unmistakable. The experience transforms both those who make the show and those who witness it.”

Moriarty says sparking dynamic conversations in the community through the art of theater is DTC’s primary goal. “Through our collaboration with the SMU Meadows Ignite/Arts Dallas initiative, which is supporting the creation of this initiative at DTC, and my longtime friend and colleague, Lear deBessonet, we now have the opportunity to more fully engage in direct dialogue with an even broader spectrum of citizens throughout this great city, culminating in the powerful and joyful act of creating theater together. Public Works Dallas will radically deepen DTC’s level of authentic engagement within our entire community, and it will change Dallas forever. By reaching out to every corner of our city, listening to the community and welcoming them as collaborators, partners and friends into our home at the Wyly Theatre, DTC will more fully live up to its ideals: to use theater to provide a center for our North Texas community to gather."

DTC, SMU Meadows and deBessonet began to develop Public Works Dallas during her Meadows Prize residency. A key initiative of Ignite/Arts Dallas, led by Clyde Valentín, the Meadows Prize is an annual award and residency given to pioneering artists and creative professionals that allows students to interact with artists at the top of their fields and integrates the Meadows School more deeply into the community. DeBessonet will return during rehearsals and for the production of The Tempest

DTC will work with community members at the five partner organizations to participate in workshops and join in the creation of participatory theater. Sessions will be led by DTC’s Public Works Dallas Fellow Leah Harris, at Jubilee Park and Community Center; actress and Texas Christian University adjunct instructor Lydia Mackay at VMLC; SMU Meadows Artist-in-Residence and DTC Playwright in Residence Will Power at LIFT; actor and Cara Mía Theatre company member Ivan Jasso at Bachman Lake Together; and DTC Brierley Resident Acting Company member and Resident Artist, Liz Mikel at City of Dallas Park and Recreation. 

“This is an important moment in Dallas’s history,” says Valentin, director of Ignite/Arts Dallas at SMU Meadows School of the Arts. “The narrative of Public Works in New York is that of a city that champions diversity and access. So what kind of city does Dallas want to become? We believe Public Work Dallas will help to ignite and inspire that conversation across our young city and become an important vehicle for our students to learn about this kind of approach to making art.”

DTC is a resident company of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, an affiliate of Public Works Dallas. “What really excited us about this project is how every corner of our very diverse city is the talent pool, and all sorts of people at every level of talent, will create, perform and experience theater like never before,” says Doug Curtis, president and CEO of the AT&T Performing Arts Center. “In just a few short years, the Center has become known as a platform for new and groundbreaking work, including that of our resident companies. Partnering with DTC and SMU on Public Works Dallas is an outstanding fit.” 

Public Works Dallas is one of two pilot sites to be affiliated with Public Works, along with Seattle Repertory Theatre. Public Works Dallas is the ultimate community engagement initiative, says DTC Director of Public Works Dallas Dayron J. Miles. “The main goal is to engage our community with a joyful artistic experience that enriches lives and creates a more connected Dallas. Public Works Dallas and Public Works Seattle are the first national Public Works partners and we are thrilled to join our friends at The Public Theater in this necessary work that we hope will spread to other regional theaters across the country.”

The 90-minute production of The Tempest will be held March 3-5, 2017 at the Wyly Theatre located at 2400 Flora St., Dallas, TX 75201. The production will be free and open to the public. Ticket and full cast information will be announced at a later date. 

Photo contributor: Karen Almond

February 2017

INHERIT THE WIND Guild Salon Series
INHERIT THE WIND Open Caption Performance
Public Works Dallas is the recipient of a 2015 TACA Bowdon & Embrey Family Foundations Artist Residency Fund grant and a City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs Cultural Vitality Program grant.
Space after Funders
Public Works Dallas - Community Partners
Bachman Lake Together
City of Dallas Park and Recreation Active Senior Adult Programs (ASAP)
Literacy Instruction For Texas (LIFT)
Public Works Dallas - People




Public Artist working with the
City of Dallas Park and Recreation Active Senior Adult Programs (ASAP)

Liz is a member of DTC’s Brierley Resident Acting Company. Selected DTC: Bella: An American Tall Tale; Romeo and Juliet; Medea; School for Wives; The Rocky Horror Show; A Raisin in the Sun; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat; The Wiz; Dividing the Estate; A Christmas Carol; Death of a Salesman; Give It Up!; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2009, 1991); The Who’s Tommy; Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Crowns. Broadway and Off-Broadway: Lysistrata Jones. Regional: American Repertory Theater; The MUNY; The Cape Playhouse; A Contemporary Theater; Arkansas Repertory Theater. Local: Casa Mañana Theatre; Dallas Children’s Theater; Jubilee Theater; Theatre Three; WaterTower Theatre. TV/Film: Get On Up; Dallas; The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; Straight A’s; Past Life; Friday Night Lights; Sordid Lives: The Series; and Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins. Awards: Leon Rabin, DFW Theater Critics Forum, D Magazine, Dallas Observer, Dallas Voice, and multiple Column Awards. 2015 Lunt Fontanne Fellow.









Public Works Dallas Manager and
Public Artist working with Jubilee Park and Community Center

Leah is a Dallas native with a BA in Theatre Arts from St Edwards University, a small school on a hill in the beautiful city of Austin, TX! She has dedicated the past five-and-a-half years living and learning in a world of theater that includes: teaching; directing; sharing; writing; producing and administration. Working in Community Engagement at Dallas Theater Center has brought many opportunities of tremendous growth for Leah; becoming the Public Works Dallas Manager has definitely been the ultimate gift. In addition to teaching at Jubilee for Public Works, Leah is most excited to see this program take off in Dallas and make a more connected city through the arts.




Public Artist working with
Bachman Lake Together

Ivan is a member of Cara Mía Theatre’s Resident Artistic Ensemble where his credits include: Blood Wedding; Lydia; References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot; Zoot Suit; Teotl; The Magic Rainforest; Nuestra Pastorela; Tina’s Journey; The House on Mango Street; and Crystal City 1969. Ivan has worked with several local theater companies including: Dallas Theater Center; Ochre House Theater; Shakespeare Dallas; Kitchen Dog Theater; Undermain Theatre; Amphibian Stage Productions; Contemporary Theatre of Dallas; Garland Summer Musicals; and Dallas Children’s Theater. Mr. Jasso is represented by the Mary Collins Agency.








Public Artist working with the
Victory Meadows Learning Center

Lydia is a  stage and voice actress who has been seen onstage all over DFW in a wide variety of shows. She’s also currently an adjunct professor of performance at TCU, works commercially and as a voice actor, performs live readings, coaches young actors, and holds an MFA in Acting from Southern Methodist University. She is a Certified Yoga Teacher, a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association, is represented by the Mary Collins Agency, and is the Co-Artistic/Producing Director of The Drama Club (a non-profit live theater). This summer she’ll be playing Queen Elizabeth in Richard III at Shakespeare Dallas.








Director, Public Works Dallas

Originally from Toledo, OH, Dayron has been involved in theatre since he was five years old. At an early age he knew that a career in sharing the performing arts was his mission in life. After graduating from the Performing Arts School of Metro Toledo, he went on to obtain a degree in theatre from Wright State University in Dayton, OH. Upon graduating from Wright State, he received the Kenny Leon Artistic Fellowship at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA. While there, he discovered the joy of sharing a theatrical experience among diverse people. It was then that he decided to focus his career on making theatre accessible to as many people as possible. After five years of building a community engagement department at the Alliance Theatre, he relocated to Dallas, TX and Dallas Theater Center where he is currently the Director of Public Works Dallas.









DTC Playwright-in-Residence and
Public Artist working with Literacy Instruction For Texas (LIFT)

Will is an award-winning playwright and performer. A 2016 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award-winner, his plays include: Stagger Lee (Dallas Theater Center); Fetch Clay, Make Man (New York Theatre Workshop, Marin Theatre Company, Roundhouse Theatre); Steel Hammer with SITI Company (Humana Festival); The Seven (Lucille Lortel Award Best Musical, New York Theatre Workshop, La Jolla Playhouse); Five Fingers of Funk! (Children’s Theatre Company); Honey Bo and the Goldmine (La Jolla Playhouse); and two acclaimed solo shows, The Gathering and Flow (solo shows toured to over 70 cities nationwide, Europe, Australia). Mr. Power is currently on the faculty at Meadows School of the Arts/SMU, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright-in-Residence with Dallas Theater Center.






space 2
Public Works Dallas - Program Partners


The Public Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, is the only theater in New York that produces Shakespeare, the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental pieces in equal measure. Celebrating his 10th anniversary season at The Public, Eustis has created new community-based initiatives designed to engage audiences like Public Lab, Public Studio, Public Forum, Public Works, and a remount of the Mobile Shakespeare Unit. The Public continues the work of its visionary founder, Joe Papp, by acting as an advocate for the theater as an essential cultural force, and leading and framing dialogue on some of the most important issues of our day.  Creating theater for one of the largest and most diverse audience bases in New York City for nearly 60 years, today the Company engages audiences in a variety of venues—including its landmark downtown home at Astor Place, which houses five theaters and Joe’s Pub; the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home to free Shakespeare in the Park; and the Mobile Shakespeare Unit, which tours Shakespearean productions for underserved audiences throughout New York City’s five boroughs. The Public’s wide range of programming includes free Shakespeare in the Park, the bedrock of the Company’s dedication to making theater accessible to all; Public Works, an expanding initiative that is designed to cultivate new connections and new models of engagement with artists, audiences and the community each year; and audience and artist development initiatives that range from Emerging Writers Group and to the Public Forum series. The Public is located on property owned by the City of New York and receives annual support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; and in October 2012 the landmark building downtown at Astor Place was revitalized to physically manifest the Company’s core mission of sparking new dialogues and increasing accessibility for artists and audiences, by dramatically opening up the building to the street and community, and transforming the lobby into a public piazza for artists, students, and audiences. The Public is currently represented on Broadway by the Tony Award-winning Fun Home and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acclaimed American musical Hamilton. The Public has received 47 Tony Awards, 167 Obie Awards, 52 Drama Desk Awards, 48 Lortel Awards, 31 Outer Critics Circle Awards, 13 New York Drama Critics Awards, and four Pulitzer Prizes.  


Meadows School of the Arts, formally established at SMU in 1969 and named in honor of benefactor Algur H. Meadows, is one of the foremost arts education institutions in the United States. The Meadows School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in advertising, art, art history, arts management and arts entrepreneurship, communication studies, creative computation, dance, film and media arts, journalism, music and theatre. The goal of SMU Meadows School of the Arts, as a comprehensive educational institution, is to prepare students to meet the demands of professional careers. The Meadows School is a leader in developing innovative outreach and community engagement programs, challenging its students to make a difference locally and globally by developing connections between art, entrepreneurship and change. Meadows is also a convener for the arts in North Texas, serving as a catalyst for new collaborations and providing critical industry research. For more information, visit

Inaugurated in October 2009, the Meadows Prize is presented annually to up to two pioneering artists. It includes support for a residency in Dallas, in addition to a $25,000 stipend. In return, recipients are expected to interact in a substantive way with Meadows students and collaborating arts organizations, and to leave a lasting legacy in Dallas, such as a work of art that reminds in the community, a composition or piece of dramatic writing that would be performed locally, or a new way of teaching in a particular discipline.


The AT&T Performing Arts Center is a nonprofit foundation that operates and programs a 10-acre campus comprised of three premier performance venues and a park in downtown Dallas. Opening in October 2009, the Center helped complete the 30-year vision of the Dallas Arts District. Audiences enjoy the best and most recent from Broadway and off-Broadway; the finest dance companies from across the globe co-presented with TITAS Presents; top concerts and performers through Center Presents; cutting-edge speakers from the #hearhere series; and a five-year initiative to present The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. The Center has also become known as a platform for world premieres, including new creations from Twyla Tharp, Kyle Abraham, St. Vincent and Pharrell Williams, as well as acclaimed new works from its five resident companies. They are among the city’s leading arts institutions: Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, The Dallas Opera, Dallas Theater Center and Texas Ballet Theater. The Center’s iconic venues include the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, Annette Strauss Square and Elaine D. and Charles A. Sammons Park. The Center offers free programming for audiences from every part of the community and produces the expansive, biannual light-based art event Aurora across the Arts District. Thousands of students explore and more deeply experience the arts through the Center’s education program, Open Stages. The Community Partners program works with local service agencies to provide free tickets to underserved individuals and families. These programs are made possible by the ongoing support of donors and members. The Center’s mission is to provide a public gathering place that strengthens community and fosters creativity through the presentation of performing arts.



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