The Winter’s Tale Features 200 Community Cast Members

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The winter's Tale
2017 Public Works production "A Midsummer Night's Dream" photo courtesy of LIFT

Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” will be presented at the Wyly Theatre Aug. 31-Sept. 2 by some very different players. This groundbreaking community participation theater project blurs the line between professional artists and community members. Dallas Theater Center, collaborating with SMU Meadows School of the Arts and AT&T Performing Arts Center, will produce Public Works Dallas’ “The Winter’s Tale.”

The adaptation of Shakespeare’s play has added music and new lyrics by Todd Almond, conceived by Lear deBessonet and directed by Kent Gash. Featuring a cast of 200 Dallasites, with only five of them professional actors, “The Winter’s Tale” stars J. D. Mollison, Tiana Kaye Johnson, Liz Mikel, Sally Nystuen Vahle, and Ivan Jasso in leading roles.

Community actors from Public Works Dallas’ five community partner organizations: Bachman Lake Together, City of Dallas Park and Recreation, Jubilee Park and Community Center, Literacy Achieves and Literacy Instruction for Texas, comprise the rest of the cast. “The Winter’s Tale” will feature cameo performances by Dark Circle Contemporary Dance Company, Michelle Gibson and her Brass Band, and Bandan Koro African Drum and Dance Ensemble. Additional cameo performances will be announced at a later date.

Tickets to the five performances of “The Winter’s Tale” are free to the public, two per person, and are being distributed onsite at each partnering community organization. Tickets will be available online at DallasTheaterCenter.org and by phone at 214-880-0202 beginning Aug. 21.

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 is a collaborator on the Public Works Dallas project. 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 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. Public Works Dallas launched in 2017 with the production of The Tempest at the Wyly Theatre.

Mayte Natalio, who recently performed on NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar, joins the Public Works Dallas creative team to choreograph the musical adaptation of The Winter’s Tale. Joining her is Set Designer Jason Sherwood, who most recently designed the set for singer Sam Smith’s world tour. The creative team is complete with Costume Designer Mari Taylor, Lighting Designer Dawn Chiang, Sound Designer Andrea Allmond and Music Director Vonda K. Bowling.

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