How to Revolutionize Theater in 9 Easy Steps. Revolt.

How to Revolutionize Theater in 9 Easy Steps. Revolt.

Step 1.
Revolutionize Tradition. Disclaim.

The thing is: I don’t write reviews! Or do I? I don’t know. With Ace’s Places being so new, I’m really trying to figure out what the main source of the content should be. Should I focus on theater? Food? Nightlife? Design Tips? Travels? Fashion? BTS? WHICH ONE?! Well, as it turns out, I like and have fans in all those arenas, so maybe I should STOP BEING SUCH A DAMN PANSY PERFECTIONIST AND JUST FOCUS ON PUTTING QUALITY CONTENT OUT, ACE! If you're expecting your typical review... you should probably stop right here, bruh. 

Step 2.
Revolutionize Politeness.
Praise with Profanity.

FUCK! Son of a bitch! What a show. Gotta do a lap around the building for that one. Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. A powerful cast of actors lead by a powerfully impactful Christie Vela, at a powerhouse theater company in the community. Now that's how you take it to the third power! Before I get into traditional review land, I will just say GO SEE THIS PLAY! Not just because I enjoyed it, but because you should be seeing theater anyway, and because Second Thought Theater produces some of the best plays I’ve ever seen come out of DFW (That’s including shows I’ve done here)! I think they are among the best theaters in town. Their work is fresh, fast, and edgy. Theater there has really made me rethink some shit. Empathitrax, made me view my Fiancée in a whole different light... 

*Ace Sobbing* “BABY! YOU CARRY SO MUCH LOVE IN YOUR HEART! I CAN HEAR WHAT YOU’RE FEELING AND I FEEL YOU! I FEEL YOU SO STRONG!” - An ENTP in his feelings.

Enemies/People by Blake Hackler, an adaptation of Enemy of the People, made me remember why I hate ignorant people so much. I went home with some fire in my heart that night. “Why is everyone other than me so stupid? People should be like me. I’m right 98 percent of the time, so that other 3 percent could suck it!”

The point I'm making is that Dallas has a wealth of great theater happening all the time, and Second Thought Theater has The Juice. They have really done an amazing job of perfecting their voice as a theater company, which really isn’t an easy task. With so many varying factors, like directors, tech designers, actors, and the plays themselves, it’s difficult for an artistic director to create a unified message that fits with the mission. So kudos goes to Alex Organ, fearless leader and Artistic Director at Second Thought Theater. He’s developed a Theatrical voice that is honest, passionate, touching on topics that are borderline incendiary, but impactful. And in truth, that feels like Alex. I’ve also gotten to share the stage with him several times as we’re 2 of 8 fellow Dallas Theater Center Resident Acting Company Members. Besides being a phenomenal actor, he has a unique presence of his own. He’s kind and quiet, but unapologetically straight forward with an underlying fiery passion that he articulates so well that you’ll think twice about how you approach a discussion with him. OH SHIT! Think twice. That’s probably why they call it Second Thought Theater! Damn that’s deep. Second Thought does it again y’all!

Step 3.
Revolutionize The Theater.
F$@K Plays.

The Second Thought Theater voice is a voice that resonates strongly with me. And that’s what matters to me. So I will make it a priority of mine to attend every show I can in their 4-show season, not just because of the play (probably never heard of the play), not just because of a review (I want my own fresh unbiased opinion), but because of the quality of the experience that is guaranteed at Second Thought. Have I ever seen a play at STT that I was unimpressed with? Yes! But, nevertheless, I always enjoy my experience which is my main reason for writing this.

Now, this is a pill that will be extremely difficult for Artistic Leaders in the theater community to swallow, but we need to face it. YOU CANNOT RELY ON THE CONTENT OF THE PLAYS YOU CHOOSE TO BRING IN NEW AUDIENCES! F$@K the plays you choose. Point blank. Boom. I said it. New audiences don’t give a flying fart about the title of a play, or the description of the play, or the message of the play, or even the actors in a play (well that's only because theaters stupidly don't do anything to make local celebrities out of the actors they employ, but that's whole other bottle of rum.) "You’re an Actor? OMG! What movies have you done? Oh you only do plays? Is that like Romeo & Juliet? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the play, Shakespeare, before. Let me know if you're ever in anything... I mean like a movie!"

Yeah, they don’t give a f$$$$@k! When they are looking for somewhere entertaining to take their tinder date, they’re not thinking “I wonder if she’ll dig the message of the play and the aesthetic choices of the designers.” Hell no. They are wondering if a night at the theater will be as fun, memorable and exciting as what they did last Friday night. They are wondering if it is going to be a good EXPERIENCE for them. And they ain't getting that from a damn blurb. "Ace, when you use swearwords like that, I feel attacked." Good! Whatever it takes to make you DO something about this problem that EVERY THEATER in DFW is facing: No one is seeing your shit. And it's good shit. You should be proud of your shit. 

Step 4.
Revolutionize Your Inhibitions: Part One.
Enhance the Experience.

EXPERIENCE, bros and she-bros. You need to learn that, when it comes to purchasing, people care about the experience of a product not the actual product itself. And it seems like EVERY successful business understands that concept except the Non-Profit Arts world. STOP MARKETING PLAYS AND START MARKETING THEATRICAL EXPERIENCES.

What do I mean by that? I mean demonstrate to them how an experience at the theater will be exactly like, if not more rewarding than, an experience they are more familiar with. Like going to a bar to see a local band play. Very simple. Theater gurus don’t want to believe that shit though. They want to live in the fantasy world that people just don’t like theater anymore... Not True! People just don’t KNOW Theater. And if they do, they think theater happens only in New York and films are only made in LA. They don’t realize that theater is an accessible art form in Dallas. Tell people about the experience of theater as if it’s trendy part of the culture. Because it is! Wake up, Alice! Because if you don't theater will be the next blockbuster in the Netflix generation. Blockbuster tried that cute clinging-to-tradition shit, and boy did that go over well. 

Step 5.
Revolutionize Your Inhibitions: Part Two.
Don't Be Blockbuster.

People that don't know about theater are NOT looking up plays. They don't even notice them. The last time they saw a play was probably in middle school. And why would any sane person EVER think to look up theater in Dallas? This is coming from an actor who lives and breathes theater everyday of his life. Stop worrying about if your play is good or bad. I say that because your SAME TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC goes to the movies ALL THE TIME, but they don’t swear off movies because they saw a bad one. They could have waited till it hit Netflix, but they enjoy the familiarity of the experience of going to a movie. And the movie theaters GET that shit! And you can tell because they are working hard to improve the movie-going experience to compete with the “Netflix-and-Chill” epidemic. Alamo Draft House and Studio Movie Grill are two prime examples: Making comfier two seaters that feel like love-seats in a living room with pull out trays that can hold a full meal provided by a server who’s on call at the push of a button. IMAX 3D! Dolby Digital Surround Sound! They said F@$k content of the movie! They are selling a living room experience. And going to the Theater is as good of an experience as the rest of them.

Now I’m not at all saying that theater should be like a living room experience. No. The theater leaders need to all come together and figure out what experiences make theater enjoyable. How can we all work together to make a unified push to promote a THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE. Not a specific play or a specific theater. Let’s promote the theatrical experience of Dallas. Whatever that is.

Step 6.
Revolutionize Entertainment.
Don't Be a Dumbass.

I’m going to say it to y’all until it clicks. People just want to be entertained, yo. And once they say, 'yes' to something. They don't really care how the entertainment happens. We need to be emulating the same feeling for a theatrical experience that you get when your girls are in town for your regular get together and you get all dressed to the 9’s to go hang out with them at a lounge that makes it nearly impossible to catch up with each other because you can’t hear them over the blaring music. You KNOW your feet are gonna kill you in those heels after just an hour, but you wear them anyway because tonight you're Beyonce and therefore can do anything. You dance your ass off, without a care in the world except to avoid men hitting on you at all cost. The bar closes, but you’re hungry. You could go home, but it took you 2 hours to BEAT your face, so you’re gonna milk it for all it’s worth. You all Lyft to Velvet Taco (open till 4am) to stand another 40 minutes in that long ass late night line, get your food, and finally sit while you discuss all the reasons you love living in Dallas.

This can be broken down to friends, fun, food and drinks. Does ANY part of this experience sound familiar? If it doesn't, open your eyes to the literal billions of  dollars being spent to partake in experiences quite similar to yours if not identical. If it does sound familiar, you should be asking yourself how theater can be that accessible. Let's take the sticks out of our asses and make the experience of theater fun again. Most theater folks will say, “It’s not that simple, Ace. We’ve been trying! You can’t force someone to like theater just as you can’t force someone to like broccoli.” And I’m gonna say- BULLSHIT! If that were true Steve Jobs wouldn’t be Steve Jobs. He MADE us love the MP3 player. He MADE us beg for the Smart Phone. He MADE us need the digital tablet. Steve jobs didn’t invent those things. No, he saw a model that needed perfecting, and he did just that while making it fun and sexy. I would argue to say that Steve Jobs made technology cool. The same MUST happen for the modern theater or else we are doomed as an art form. 

Step 7.
Revolutionize the Standard.
Try Everything.

Let's try some new shit this year. Let's open up our lobbies early; invite a band to play as patrons wait for the house to open. Let's rent a VIP party bus with Free Drinks to the Opening Night Party Destination with the Actors. Let's make the opening night venue a table at Bottled Blonde. Let's get a booth at the next trendy popup event. Let's set up a photo booth in the lobby with imitation props from the show that can be posted instantly to instagram. Let's offer a percent off of dinner at a late night restuarant after the show. Let's have a season launch party with all the theaters in town announcing their season at the same time like WWDC! Let's host the talkbacks in our lobbies and keep the space open with a DJ spinning until midnight while food and beverages are being served. Let's NOT rush people out the door for trying to be a true fan and wait for the actors as they come out. Let's ask ourselves why there is no local art in the largest arts district in the country. Let's ask ourselves why there are no giant murals with signage in the largest arts district in the country. Let's ask ourselves why the largest arts district in the country feels like a corporate headquarters and a place seemingly unwelcoming to ACTUAL ARTISTS. Let's ask ourselves why we keep losing local talent to other markets. Let's ask ourselves how we expect to attract people to our theaters when we ourselves are rushing to get in and out as quickly as possible. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know if these specifically will solve the problem but good lord we need to try something different than what we've been doing. Change shit up yo! Name one creation that has benefited from clinging to mere tradition without evolving. Nature herself, evolves and adapts. Who are we to go against nature? *Sigh* I could truly talk about this all day. But I’d never get to the review which is probably your real reason for reading this post anyway. Sorry for the delay, but get used to it! In the place of Ace, I do what I want!

Step 8.
Revolutionize the Review.
Act One is Dope. 

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As for Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. It was not my favorite play, BUT! I will say, I think that's because it didn't want to be a play. Playwright, Alice Birch, seems to have had a different form of theater in mind for audience members that tugs on the fabric of what we consider "Standard." The 80-minute performance is split into 3 acts but with no intermission. Only brief moments of pause while a woman over an intercom calls out the current act. You walk in to the stark white blackbox space with white set pieces. Even the audience platforms and chairs are covered in white. A pair of sleek black Stilletto pumps sits sharply on the side of the stage. WHAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN??? A loud curtain speech from the intercom as the actors rush the stage. Then, we're into the thick of it. 

Don't be fooled by the first few scenes like I was. The play kind of stops being a play after act 1. Each act dives deeper and deeper into absurdism. But not funny absurdism. Just absurd absurdism. Absurdism is usually funny right? Like clowns and shit? Either way, not my cup of tea. The first act (The most play like) is PHENOMENAL and enough to make me want to see the show again. With this strong cast of five, a succession of 4 powerful scenes allowed each of the ensemble to show their chops. And show them they did!

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The characters have no names they are only listed in the program as numbers 1 through 5 that are never spoken aloud. Actor 5, Max Hartman is the only male in the bunch and plays opposite the women in the first 4 scenes. After seeing him navigate that awkward two left foot tango of being broken down by his fierce counter parts, he is easily now one of my favorite Dallas actors. Honestly the entire cast of actors makes seeing this play worth it on its own. 

First Actor 5, is paired as a romantic partner to  Jenny Ledel, who boldly chooses for the first time to call the shots during sex, putting Hartman in a reasonably uncomfortable position. Ledel leans into her naturally silly, soft yet spritely demeanor to make the scene ring all too honest. In the next scene, he is coupled with recent SMU graduate, Tia Laulusa, who confronts him for his outrageous attempt to revoke her freedom by proposing to her. Being the very exemplar of a babyface, it's easy to think of Laulusa as only playing young mindless adolescents or the damsel in distress, but if you actually get to know her, you'll quickly discover that couldn't be farther from reality. Similar to Alex Organ she's an intellectual to the core, poised with razor sharp undertones, so it was refreshing to see her get to use on stage the level power she's use to using day-to-day.  

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Next, a prolonged moment of silence as we witness the commanding presence that is Lydia Mackay. In a cringeworthy duet scene, Mackay's boss, played by Hartman, tries everything he can think of to get her to work on Mondays. Mackay is not having it. She barely says much of anything in the scene, "But DAMN GIRL! *snap snap* yo ass could be a mime and sell out a concert hall with that 5-act play I watched on yo face." We round out the play part of the play with the quietly captivating Christie Vela who is confronted by two managers of a grocery store (Ledel and Hartman) for being caught exposing her breasts in one of the aisles. She's another one of those actors that don't have to say shit and you be like, "Yes ma'am. I'm sorry." The trio tackles this vignette with honesty and truth, taking it from passive aggression to a point where Hartman can't help but resort to shallow slurs and insults. I was glued to my seat wanting more! WOOHOO FUCK THE PATRIARCHY! Yeah mofos, let's get on with Act 2.

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Step 9.
Revolutionize Act Two & Three.
Don't Review Them.

Peace.

I am a professional Actor, Graphic Designer & Photographer. My career started as a full-time designer in 2013. Two years later, I said “hell no” to depression, quit my job and, went full-time freelance with my own design company, The Striped Heart. Shortly after I accepted a company membership with Tony-Award winning Dallas Theater Center’s acting company. My greatest asset is my creative outlook on life. I've been engrossed in the world of the arts since I was very young. They way art moves and inspires people is what keeps me going. I was born to be a connector and a leader. I strongly believe we were put on this earth to create. Therefor it is my ultimate goal to keep art and creativity alive and well for as long as I live. People say I'm not funny...