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Undermain Theatre presents Whither Goest Thou America: a new work festival.

Three staged readings of new American plays examining the culture, the issues, the history and the inspiration that make up the American scene. Each week of the series will focus on a different playwright and play with readings of the play by an ensemble of performers. The centerpiece of the festival will be the fully-staged workshop production of He's Born, He's Borne by the legendary David Rabe. Audiences will have the opportunity to return each week of the series to experience a new work and author examining the American experience and asking the question, "How did we get here and where are we going?"

He's Born, He's Borne

by David Rabe

An Undermain Theatre Workshop Production with the Author in attendance

The centerpiece production of the Whither Goest Thou America Festival

Directed by Undermain Company Member Blake Hackler

Featuring Bruce DuBose as Bembo

Preview Performances - Thursday, 4/16/20 and Friday, 4/17/20 at 7:30 pm

Opening Night Saturday 4/18/20

Performance Run 4/16/20 - 5/2/20

Wed. through Sat. evenings at 7:30 pm and one Sunday matinee, 4/19/20 at 2:00 pm.

The workshop production of He's Born, He's Borne is supported in part by a grant from the TACA New Works Fund.

"He's Born, He's Borne is set in a primitive land and time. It draws on Medieval time, or The Dark Age and yet is more mythical than historical in its depiction of humans struggling to contend with the yearnings, the labors, the superstitions, loves and dreads that make up their lives. Life is raw, the issues basic, the language clumsy. A child may or may not be born; what is the life he will enter? What is the moon? What if it doesn't rain? Angels wander in and out. Which angel is 'the guardian one?' What is this feeling of chills? Do we want to live? Should we want to live? And how in the midst of such pragmatic struggles can there be such an impractical thing as art?

My relationship with Undermain Theatre goes back to 1991, over 25 years, to their production of my play, Goose and Tomtom. A friend who lived in Dallas saw it and told me I had to travel down there to see it. I did and was thrilled with what I encountered. Katherine had directed and Bruce played Tomtom. Their production had reached into the essence of the play and with superb technique had made it manifest. I felt I had found a kindred theater company. They have since produced two other plays of mine, The Dog Problem and The Black Monk, both with Katherine directing and Bruce acting."

- David Rabe on He's Born, He's Borne and his relationship with Undermain

David Rabe is an American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist whose work has had a powerful influence on American theater and is known for its use of dark humor, satire, and surreal fantasy. Rabe has won almost every important award in the American theater including a Tony award for his play Sticks and Bones as well as three other Tony nominations for Hurly Burly, Streamers and in the Boom Boom Room, an Obie Award for The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, multiple New York Drama Critics' Circle awards, a PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for his body of work and most recently the Legend of Off Broadway Award presented by the Off Broadway Alliance. David Rabe was educated at Loras College, Dubuque Iowa and completed his graduate studies in theater at Villanova University in Pennsylvania after serving in the army as a draftee assigned to a hospital-support unit in Vietnam, where his experiences provided a key influence on his early career as a playwright. Rabe's numerous other plays include Goose and Tomtom (1983) a surreal gangster-themed play steeped in gnostic mysticism which was a groundbreaking production for Undermain Theatre, Hurlyburly (1985; film 1998) and Those the River Keeps (1991), A Question of Mercy (1998); The Dog Problem (2002), The Black Monk (2004) based on a Chekhov short story and An Early History of Fire (first performed 2012). Good for Otto was developed by the Gift Theater in Chicago and premiered by The New Group in New York in 2018. In addition to screenplays for his plays he has written screenplays for the films such as I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can (1983), Casualties of War (1989), John Grisham's The Firm (1993) and the upcoming film We're Just Married, starring his daughter actress Lilly Rabe. His novels include Recital of the Dog (1993), Dinosaurs on the Roof (2008), and Girl by the Side of the Road (2010)


Second-Hand Conversations with Irene: Remembering Long Enough by Teresa Marrero

Two staged readings. Saturday, April 25th and Sunday, April 26th at 2:00 pm

Directed by Sorany Gutierrez

Author in attendance

Second Hand Conversations with Irene: Remembering Long Enough explores the topic of living with dementia/Alzheimer's through the story of two creative women who are nearing the end of their lives. Yet, their identities can still be discerned in spite of the fog.

"This play was inspired by two events: attending a week-long play writing seminar with Maria Irene Fornés in 1998 at UCLA and watching Michelle Memran's soulful documentary, The Rest I Make Up at the ATHE conference in Orlando, Florida, summer 2019.

This fanciful conversation was sparked during a long road trip while driving a car. There is a sense of movement embedded in it. It also harks to the playwright's and Fornes' shared fascination with shopping at resale and consignment stores, and their respective sense of style.

The character of Mami is based on the playwright's mother, a highly skilled dress-maker who lived with dementia between the years 2000 and 2015 when she passed away at age 85."

- Teresa Marrero on her inspiration for Second-Hand Conversations with Irene: Remembering Long Enough

Teresa Marrero earned her doctorate in 1992 from the University of California, Irvine, in 20th Century Latin American and Latinx Theater and Literatures. She currently holds the title of Full Professor in the Spanish Department at the University of North Texas. She was born in Havana, Cuba and grew up in Los Angeles, California. Besides being a scholar, she is a short fiction writer, playwright, theater critic and an avid Argentine tango dancer. She is the co-editor of ENCUENTRO, Latinx Performance for the New American Theater (Northwestern University Press, (2019) and the landmark anthology Out of the Fringe, Contemporary Latina-Latino Theater and Performance (Theatre Communications Group, 2000) with the Obie-winner, Caridad Svich. Among her many articles published in top-notch academic journals and books are: "Being in a State of Memory: Notes from a María Irene Fornés Workshop" in Conducting a Life: a Tribute to María Irene Fornés (New Hampshire: Smith and Kraus Press, 1999) based on a week-long creative writing experience with Fornés at UCLA, and "Latinx Sci-Fi Theater: Speculating Possible Futures" in Theater Topics, (the Johns Hopkins University Press, Theatre Topics, 2019). Among her literary credits are a book of short stories published in Buenos Aires, Argentina entitled Entre la Argentina y Cuba, cuentos nómadas de viajes y tangos (Corregidor, 2009). Her Spanish language play "La Familia" appears in Teatro Latino: Nuevas Obras en los Estados Unidos/Latino Theater: New Works in the US (New York: La Casita Grande, 2019).

Bright Boys by Blake Hackler

Two staged readings. Saturday, May 2nd and Sunday, May 3rd at 2:00 pm

Directed by Jake Nice

Author in attendance

Baptist minister Peter unwittingly exposes his family's darkest secrets after he welcomes a young drifter into their home. When their teenage son learns the truth about his parents, Peter and his wife Sondra must confront their own shortcomings and keep their lives from going up in flames.

"Bright Boys is the third in a trilogy which includes This Sweet Affliction and The Necessities, seen at Second Thought Theatre in 2017. All three plays explore how people cope with tragedy - how tragedy can reshape and redirect a life. Inspired by a true story of a spate of church burnings in East Texas, the play asks what happens when the compromises we've made, both conscious and unconscious, can no longer be born. As in so many plays, movies, and stories, a stranger comes to town and things change. But the stranger in Bright Boys... well, he might be a little different..."

- Blake Hackler on his inspiration for Bright Boys

Blake Hackler is an actor, director, playwright and educator living and working in Dallas, Texas. As a playwright, Hackler's work has been seen across the U.S. and won several awards. He is a lifetime member of the esteemed BMI/Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop and was the 2009 recipient of the Harrington Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre Writing. His plays, The Necessities and What We Were both received nominations for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Award. His adaptation of Ibsen's Enemy of the People was named Best Play of 2018 by the Dallas Observer. Other plays include: The Necessities (nominated for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Award), This Sweet Affliction - Yale Cabaret, DRILLS Winner, Primary Stages, The Boss in the Satin Kimono - New York International Fringe Festival, 10 Reasons I Won't Go Home With You (lyrics) - Midtown Theatre Festival, Winner Best of Fest, The Lady in Red - Gene Frankel Theatre, Mother Courage of Westchester - NYTE, Barry Horowitz: A Jewish Fantasia on Catholic Themes - Prospect Theatre and The Wasp Woman - a musical written with Phillip Chernyak. 2020 will see his plays produced in Seattle and London. Blake holds a BFA in Acting from Roosevelt University, and an MFA in Acting from the Yale School of Drama. He currently serves as the Head of Acting at Southern Methodist University. He was named a Fulbright Scholar to Bulgaria in 2015, and in 2018 received a MacDowell Fellowship for Playwriting.

Feeding On Light by Lenora Champagne

Two staged readings, Saturday, May 9 and Sunday, May 10 at 2:00 pm

Directed by Bruce DuBose

Author in attendance

Nora is a curious writer who seeks to understand her friend and collaborator Katherine's obsession with 20th-century French philosopher and activist Simone Weil. As their discussion deepens, Nora and Katherine embody scenes from Simone's life in an attempt to communicate with her across time and space. Feeding on Light is based on playwright Lenora Champagne's personal relationship and discussions with Undermain Theatre's late Founding Artistic Director Katherine Owens, to whom the play is dedicated.

"I approach Feeding on Light with trepidation.

Simone Weil is a challenge to present, not least because she wanted people to focus on her ideas, not her life. But her life is as fascinating as her ideas are demanding.

Her mother remarked that it was hard to have a daughter who was a saint.

I was asked to write this play by Katherine Owens, a friend, director and supporter of my work, and Founding Artistic Director of Undermain Theatre in Dallas. We met in New York City and upstate, to discuss the project and work on it together. She was happy for me when I was awarded a residency fellowship to work on the play in France. Over the summer, I was deeply involved in re-reading Weil's biography and her work, which had fascinated me some years ago, when I learned that Katherine had died. She was only 61, and I'd had no idea that she was ill. She only knew she was ill a short time herself, and had thought she would recover.

So the play, slight as it is, has been heavy to carry. The gravity of Simone's life and work and Katherine's early death weigh on me. A striver myself, I have tried to take to heart the exhortation to wait for the light, to humbly hope for grace to somehow lift these words to a place of joy.

Thanks to the Brown Foundation Fellows program and the Dora Maar House, in Menerbes, France, where most of this play was written."

- Lenora Champagne on her inspiration for Feeding on Light

Lenora Champagne came to New York from Louisiana to be a painter, but found her voice in performance. She collaborates with sculptors and designers, composers and media artists on large-scale work, and also makes solo performances. An alumna of New Dramatists, she has been working as a performance and theatre artist since 1981. Her multiple awards include fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts in playwriting and solo performance, support and grant awards from the N.E.A. and NYSCA, and residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Bogliasco. She lived in Japan on a Fulbright in 2012-13. Champagne's publications include New World Plays, Out from Under: Texts by Women Performance Artists, The Singing: a cyberspace opera in Epic Plays II, TRACES/fades in Plays and Playwrights 2009, Dusk in PAJ and performance texts and essays in Performance Research, Women and Performance, PAJ, Chain and The Iowa Review. She has a Ph.D. from NYU and is Professor of Theatre and Performance at Purchase College, SUNY.

Curtain times and ticket pricing

He's Born, He's Borne by David Rabe

Thursday, April 16 @ 7:30 pm Preview

Friday, April 17 @ 7:30 pm Preview

Saturday, April 18 @ 7:30 pm OPENING

Sunday, April 19 @ 2:00 pm Matinee

Wednesday, April 22 @ 7:30 pm

Thursday, April 23 @ 7:30 pm

Friday, April 24 @ 7:30 pm

Saturday, April 25 @ 7:30 pm

Wednesday, April 29 @ 7:30 pm

Thursday, April 30 @ 7:30 pm

Friday, May 1 @ 7:30 pm

Saturday, May 2 @ 7:30 pm

Second Hand Conversations With Irene by Teresa Marrero

Saturday, April 25 @ 2:00 pm

Sunday, April 26 @ 2:00 pm

Bright Boys by Blake Hackler

Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00 pm

Sunday, May 2 @ 2:00 pm

Feeding on Light by Lenora Champagne

Saturday, May 9 @ 2:00 pm

Sunday, May 10 @ 2:00 pm

Ticket prices are:

He's Born, He's Borne is available to donors, subscribers and invited guests.

All readings are $15

Visit to purchase tickets online or call the box office at 214-747-5515.

Undermain is located at 3200 Main Street at the corner of Murray Street in Deep Ellum. The closest paid lot is on the corner of Main and Hall Street. You can also find free and metered parking near and around the theater. Please give yourself plenty of time to find parking, especially on the weekends.

Now in its 36th season, Undermain Theatre is a company of artists that has produced 35 World Premieres, 59 regional premieres and countless re-workings of masterpieces that celebrate language and poetics. Undermain's work stretches beyond its home state of Texas and has reached audiences in New York, Los Angeles, Canada, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. The San Diego Union Tribune called Undermain "one of the best small theaters in America." The theatre collaborates with playwrights, supports a theatre archive and operates a theatre under 3200 Main Street in Dallas' legendary Deep Ellum.

Producing Artistic Director: Bruce DuBose

Founding Artistic Director: Katherine Owens

General Manager: Patricia Hackler

Associate Artistic Director: Danielle Georgiou

Producing Artistic Associate: Jake Nice

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