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BWW Exclusive: Dallas' Soul Rep Theatre Company on Choosing to Persevere Through Crisis

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Members of the company at Soul Rep Theatre in Dallas have written an exclusive article for BroadwayWorld.

The article speaks to the company's struggle, triumphs, contributions to North Texas' artistic landscape, and more, as it prepares to enter its 25th anniversary season this fall.

Read the article below!


In the midst of a pandemic and with protests affecting every region of the globe, bringing with it both the possibilities of positive transformation and the fear of irreversible economic and cultural damage, Soul Rep Theatre Company is moving into its 25th Anniversary year with excitement and a renewed sense of purpose. This "boutique theater company", founded in Dallas, Texas over two decades ago by three Black women, was built for times like these.

The company's recent season included a "BLACK MEN ILLUMINATED" themed new play festival and the regional premieres of Colman Domingo's DOT, and Shay Youngblood's AMAZING GRACE. The season was to close with two collaborations - a staged reading of DO NO HARM, a new work by Co-Founder Anyika McMillan-Herod, with Echo Theater Company, and a reboot of the Café/Negro Art Series with Cara Mia Theater Company, through the regional premiere of Dael Orlandersmith's MY RED HAND, MY BLACK HAND. Both were postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis.

BWW Exclusive: Dallas' Soul Rep Theatre Company on Choosing to Persevere Through Crisis
Soul Rep's "Black Men Illuminated" themed New Play Festival in September 2019
Photo Credit: Malcolm Herod

"These times have brought about real threats to the survival of arts organizations," says Guinea Bennett-Price, Soul Rep's Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director. "But, I promise you this: Soul Rep isn't going anywhere. We aren't new to struggle or operating on a lean budget." In fact, Soul Rep will reveal its 25th Anniversary season of plays and arts education programming in a few weeks.

Since returning to the Dallas arts scene seven years ago after a ten year hiatus to focus on family, Soul Rep has successfully operated with little overhead, rebuilt its audience, and paced its growth and restoration as a vital contributor to the North Texas arts community. "We are confident Soul Rep will emerge from the challenges of this time even more productive and impactful. Times like these, call for innovation and shared resources," explains Bennett-Price.

Emboldened by a mission to provide quality transformative Black theater that enlightens the imagination, the spirit, and the soul, the company is working to shift the paradigm of how the Black experience is valued by the world. The company's impact on our community over these past 25 years, even with a 10-year, cannot be denied.

"Soul Rep is arguably Dallas' most trusted, trained, and tireless advocate for producing Black theater and developing Black theater artists and new works in our city," says Anyika McMillan- Herod, Co-Founder/Managing Director. "In commemoration of our Anniversary, we look forward to publishing an anthology of some of our favorite original plays later this year."

BWW Exclusive: Dallas' Soul Rep Theatre Company on Choosing to Persevere Through Crisis
Soul Rep's signature production, THE FREEDMANS, in 2018
Photo Credit: Anyika McMillan-Herod

In its 25 years, Soul Rep has produced over 50 full productions, many of them critically acclaimed regional and world premieres that introduced local audiences to incredible voices of the American theater. In addition, the company has produced 10 New Play Festivals featuring the works of both local, regional, and national playwrights, and 13 full productions of original work developed by our company members, such as THE FREEDMANS, a signature piece that pays

homage to the former enslaved men and women who founded one of Dallas' earliest Black communities. Of the work Soul Rep has produced over two decades, 72% of the plays were written by women; 70% of the plays were written by playwrights of color; and 91% of the talent hired were locally based.

"To date, we are the longest running Black theater company in Dallas' history," explains Tonya Holloway, Soul Rep Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director. "Over the course of 100 years, eight theater companies have cultivated, created, and curated Black theater but none have thrived. Our voice is needed now, more than ever."

The company has reached an inflection point and there is no choice but to embrace the times, strategize, and rise. "Soul Rep is choosing perseverance," says Bennett-Price. "It's the least we can do for our ancestors and those members of the Black Power and Theater movement of the 1970's who set the stage for us."

On Soul Rep Theatre Company's stage, Black art, Black narratives, Black joy, Black families, Black history, Black love, Black struggle, Black brilliance and Black lives, will ALWAYS MATTER.


If you are a Black artist or an artist of color and would like to share your stories, your work, and your experiences, or to recommend someone else that we should get in touch with for one of our initiatives, please feel free to email us at contact@broadwayworld.com.


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