Third Annual Free Public Works Dallas Production, As You Like It, Runs Aug. 16-18 At Wyly Theatre
12 Meadows students and alumni serving as Public Works Dallas Fellows and guest artists
Dallas Theater Center (DTC), in collaboration with SMU Meadows School of the Arts and the AT&T Performing Arts Center, will present the third annual Public Works Dallas production, a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, August 16-18 at the Wyly Theatre in the Dallas Arts District. Public Works Dallas is a groundbreaking community engagement and participatory theater project designed to deliberately blur the line between professional artists and Dallas community members, and launched in 2017 with the help of the Meadows School’s Ignite/Arts Dallas initiative and Meadows Prize.
As You Like It will feature 200 actors and community members, only five of whom are professional actors. The five, all DTC Diane and Hal Brierley Resident Acting Company Members, include Tiffany Solano DeSena as Rosalind; Alex Organ as Duke Senior; Christopher Llewyn Ramirez as Orlando; and Meadows theatre alumni Ace Anderson as Touchstone and Tiana Kaye Blair as Jaques. Making up the majority of the cast are community actors from Public Works Dallas’ community partner organizations: Bachman Lake Together, City of Dallas Park and Recreation, Jubilee Park and Community Center, and Literacy Instruction for Texas. The production will also feature cameo appearances by Dallas performing arts organizations.
Twelve Meadows undergraduates, graduate students and recent alumni are helping bring the show to fruition as Public Works Dallas Fellows and guest artists. Maria Zavala (’20) has worked on every Public Works Dallas show since the program’s inception in 2017. She serves as community liaison, helping participants with translations, production paperwork, transportation and more.
“I love Public Works because it’s a movement that creates art, not for the sake of a few people, but for the sake of community and fraternity, in order to better the lives of everyone involved,” said Zavala. “Public Works has taught me how extraordinarily strong a group of people can become if we allow equity and hospitality to do their work, and what beautiful, magical results can come out of all of us working together, people of all ethnicities and ages and experiences, overcoming language barriers and all other kinds of differences. It has made me a better person. In a world so divided, Public Works truly is the pursuit of community.”
Also returning for his third Public Works Dallas show is Sam Weber (’18), who serves as assistant choreographer, teaching dance and helping stage musical numbers. Weber, who earned triple science degrees at SMU, minored in musical theatre and was tapped for the job due to his work producing and leading SMU’s 24 Hour Musical. “I’ve truly grown to love the community of Public Works performers, and seeing some of them come back for their second or third year is incredible,” he said. “I’ve watched members of the program become really talented performers and seen how it has empowered people to make positive life changes. Public Works focuses on accessibility, meeting performers’ needs, and responsible community building -- valuable guidelines for how we should treat people in real life, and how all professional artistic endeavors should operate.”
Other alumni involved in the show include scenic design assistant Sarah Harris (M.F.A. ’19), who also worked on last year’s Public Works production of The Winter’s Tale, and lighting design assistant Lindsay Silva (M.F.A. ’19). Roderick Woodruff (B.F.A. ’19) is ensemble captain, serving as an onstage guide for community actors. Current theatre M.F.A. students working on the show include costume design assistants Bri Tobin and Janice Rabin and sound design assistant Joshua Manning. Joining them are current undergraduate theatre students Alyssia Giakoumas as ensemble captain, Lauren Floyd as part of the hair/makeup crew, and wardrobe crew members Coda Boyce, who also worked on The Winter’s Tale last year, and Hayley Shipley.
Written by William Shakespeare, Public Works Dallas’ As You Like It is adapted by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery, with music and lyrics by Taub. Named one of The New York Times’ best shows of 2017, As You Like It is an immersive dream-like tale of faithful friends, feuding families and lovers in disguise. Forced from their homes, Orlando, Duke Senior, his daughter Rosalind and niece Celia escape to the Forest of Arden, a fantastical place of transformation, where all are welcomed and embraced. Lost amidst the trees, the refugees find community and acceptance under the stars. Featuring an original folk-pop score by Taub and running 90 minutes long, As You Like It is appropriate for all audiences and groups.
Directed and choreographed by Ann Yee, As You Like It will run for five performances from Friday, Aug. 16 to Sunday, Aug. 18 at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. in downtown Dallas. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are free to the public, two per person. Tickets are available at one of the community partner mobile box offices through August 8, or online beginning August 9. For more information, call the main DTC box office at 214-522-8499.
About Public Works Dallas:
Public Works Dallas is affiliated with Public Works, an ongoing initiative of The Public Theater in New York 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. 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 and in 2018 presented The Winter’s Tale. The AT&T Performing Arts Center has been a partner since Public Works Dallas began, providing space for performances, rehearsals and parking, as well as staff support, production equipment and more.
For more information, visit DallasTheaterCenter.org.