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Dallas Theater Center Welcomes New Resident Artists

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Dallas Theater Center has announced the addition of several full-time resident artists!

Dallas Theater Center Welcomes New Resident Artists

Dallas Theater Center has announced the addition of several full-time resident artists! Zachary J. Willis, Christina Austin Lopez, and Bob Hess join the Diane and Hal Brierley Resident Acting Company. while Jonathan Norton, DTC playwright-in-residence, has been promoted to a full-time staff member!

In 2009, with the generous support of Diane and Hal Brierley, Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty reinstated DTC's resident acting company. His intent was to develop and nurture professional actors within the North Texas community and enable them to make Dallas their artistic home. Willis, Lopez, and Hess join full-time members Tiana Kaye Blair, Blake Hackler, Liz Mikel, Alex Organ, Christopher Llewyn Ramirez, Molly Searcy, Tiffany Solano, and Sally Nystuen Vahle.

"During the pandemic, it was painfully clear how financially vulnerable so many theater artists are. Because of the generosity of our donors, we were proud to provide full-time employment and benefits for the professional artists in our Brierley Resident Acting Company throughout that difficult time. Now that we have returned to in-person performances and are looking ahead to a dynamic season of large cast comedies and musicals, we are thrilled to welcome three new members into our acting company," said Kevin Moriarty, Enloe/Rose Artistic Director. "Their artistry as actors and singers will enliven our work on stage, and their engagement as teaching artists in our education and engagement programs will inspire people of all ages from throughout our community to experience the joy of theater for the first time."

Norton's play Cake Ladies made its world premiere this season at DTC. His debut DTC production, Penny Candy, is being published by Deep Vellum books and will be available December 8. His work has also been produced or developed by Actors Theatre of Louisville/44th Humana Festival, PlayPenn, InterAct Theatre Company, Pyramid Theatre Company, Black and Latino Playwrights Conference, Bishop Arts Theatre Center, Castillo Theatre, Soul Rep Theater Company, African American Repertory Theater, Kitchen Dog Theater, Undermain Theatre, Theatre Three, and South Dallas Cultural Center. His play Mississippi Goddamn was a Finalist for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and won the 2016 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award. His other awards include Artistic Innovations Grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance, South Dallas Cultural Center Diaspora Performing Arts Commission, the TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund, TACA Bowdon Family Foundation Artist Residency Fund, and the Jubilee Theatre's 2019 Eastman Visionary Award.

"I saw my first play as a sixth grader at R.C. Burleson Elementary in Pleasant Grove. It was Dallas Theater Center's A Christmas Carol at the old Arts District Theater and it changed my life. So coming onboard full time at DTC is such a wonderful full circle moment. But more importantly, I'm proud to be part of such an amazing cohort of Resident Artists and I'm especially proud of DTC for prioritizing artists in this way. It's rare that artists can make a living pursuing their art. So DTC's support in this way is a real game changer. Since starting full time I've been provided more opportunities to feed and nurture my writing practice," Jonathan Noron, playwright-in-residence. "In addition to writing, I'm reading and discussing plays for season planning, supporting Public Works Dallas (which I love) meeting playwrights, brainstorming and developing new artistic initiatives and talking about theater - a lot. Due to these opportunities, I feel that my voice and abilities have matured exponentially in the two months that I've been on staff. I'm excited to see that growth continue. And I'm equally excited to see how the Resident Artists model impacts our work at DTC and in the community at large."

"A great city needs great artists living and working among its residents. At DTC, we are prioritizing providing a full-time living wage for professional theater artists of the highest caliber so they can choose to live and work in Dallas, rather than only importing visiting artists for brief residencies as guests before they return to their home communities on either coast. Our resident artists are inspired by their experiences living and working in Dallas, and, in return, they are deeply committed to creating great theater for and with the community they call home," said Moriarty.

"Throughout its history, Dallas Theater Center has been a home for artists to hone their craft, challenge themselves, and grow as humans and as artists. We have enjoyed playing a role in uplifting and celebrating such talented local actors," Diane and Hal Brierley.

Zachary J. Willis was most recently seen in DTC's Tiny Beautiful Things. Audiences can see him again starting November 24 in A Christmas Carol at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. Willis studied Musical Theatre at Sam Houston State University. His acting credits include The Music Man (Theatre Three); Spring Awakening (TUTS & Uptown Players); The Wizard of Oz (Casa Mañana); Xanadu (Stages Repertory Theatre); and The First Noel (Jubilee Theatre) for which he was an Irma P. Hall Black Theatre Award Recipient.

"Joining the Brierley Resident Acting Company is an honor and incredibly affirming. The theatre has always been a safe place for me. It has been my playground of curiosity and discovery and has made me a more understanding and empathetic person. I look forward to the growth and community I will build at DTC." Zachary J. Willis, Brierley Resident Acting Company.

Audiences can see Christina Austin Lopez next in DTC's A Christmas Carol and early next year in Our Town starting January 27 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater. Other DTC credits include Tiny Beautiful Things and In the Heights. She has also performed at The Alley Theatre, North Carolina Theatre, ZACH Theatre, 4th Wall Theatre, and Theatre Three. She recently graduated with a BFA in Theatre Performance with a Concentration in Musical Theatre from Baylor University. During the pandemic, Lopez worked on growing her social media and recently reached more than 1.5 million followers on TikTok (@xtina_lopez).

"I am honored to be joining the Brierley Resident Acting Company. I fell in love with theater because of the power that it has to impact people through storytelling. Whether it is spreading joy, or shedding light on a topic, we artists have the tremendous opportunity to change someone's day. I cannot wait to create theater with all the wonderful people at DTC!" Christina Austin Lopez, Brierley Resident Acting Company.

Hess is an understudy for Scrooge in DTC's A Christmas Carol. Before that, he was on stage at DTC in To Kill a Mockingbird and It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman. Hess appeared most recently in WaterTower Theatre's I Am My Own Wife and Stage West's regional premiere of The Children. Other performances have included La Cage aux Folles, The Nance, and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Uptown Players); Hand to God and Pride and Prejudice (WaterTower Theatre), The Great God Pan (Second Thought Theatre); Artist Descending a Staircase and King Liz (Amphibian Productions); Hir (Stage West); Rock of Ages and Million Dollar Quartet (Casa Manana); and Driving Miss Daisy (North Carolina Theatre). The recipient of numerous awards from DFW Critics' Forum and Broadway World, Hess is also an Assistant Professor of Theatre at University of North Texas and is represented by the Mary Collins Agency.

"I moved to Dallas from Kentucky in 1980 to work at the Dallas Theater Center, and I called it home for a little over three years. After over 40 years as a very proud member of the DFW theater community (and the privilege of working on so many of the professional stages here), the honor of returning to DTC to be part of this resident company feels very 'full circle' to me," Bob Hess, Brierley Resident Acting Company.

"Christina, Zach and Bob each bring an impressive range of skills to our acting company. They are skilled musical theater performers who are equally adept at performing contemporary and classical comedies and dramas. They are collaborative, creative and bold in their artistry. They share DTC's commitment to racial equity, diversity and inclusion, and they are eager to contribute to a theater in which all are welcome," said Moriarty. "All of us are eager to welcome them into the rehearsal room to join us in creating innovative new productions for our audiences in the months and years ahead."

To learn more about Brierly Resident Acting Company or DTC's resident artists, visit https://www.dallastheatercenter.org/resident-artists/


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