Pop-up Plays in South Dallas Will Tell Stories From Current and Past Black Dallas

Art imitating life is an underlying theme of several 10-minute plays that will be presented in a pair of "pop-up" performances in South Dallas next week."South Dallas Stories" tells the stories of everyday people, folk heroes, myths, and current and historical events and leaders in black Dallas.The re-creations are part of the New Play Festival, which will kick off the 11th season of Soul Rep Theatre Company. Soul Rep is the resident company at the South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. across from Fair Park.The free pop-up performances will be at two outdoor sites Aug. 3 and will give passersby a taste of what will be available at the cultural center the following two weekends. Times and locations are 7 p.m. on the parking lot behind the historic Forest Theater, 1918 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and 7:45 p.m. at Opportunity Park, 3105 Pine St. at Malcolm X Boulevard.The full New Play Festival will be Aug. 4-6 and Aug. 11-13 (8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays) at the cultural center. Festival tickets are $20. To purchase or for more information, visit www.soulrep.org or the company's New Play Festival page on Facebook.The plays are presented in part through a Cultural Vitality Program grant from the city's Office of Cultural Affairs. Eight area playwrights were commissioned to write the plays. Fifteen local actors will perform, and seven local artists will direct.Anyika McMillan-Herod, Soul Rep co-founder and managing director, will direct and act in some pieces. Guinea Bennett-Price and Tonya Davis-Holloway are Soul Rep co-founders and co-artistic directors. In promotional materials, they spoke of using performance art as a vehicle to inspire expression and teach local black history."We have always believed in [writer] James Baldwin's assertion that 'artists are here to disturb the peace,'" Bennett-Price said in the materials.One intriguing work tells the story of Father J. Von Brown, the flamboyant and eccentric 1940s-'60s minister whose history is found in the book Black Presence in Dallas and The Handbook of Texas Online. Brown wore robes, carried a staff, handed out holy oil, sometimes preached from a coffin, and had frequent run-ins with the law. According to biographers, he claimed that he would rise three days after he died. Following his sudden death in 1965, thousands visited while he laid in state. Followers fanned his body during the vigil but were disappointed when he did not rise.Other works include portrayals of Wah Wah Chinese restaurant in South Dallas, South Dallas' early Jewish heritage, and the area's "Tent City" for the homeless. The festival also includes Juan y Maria, a piece in Spanish and English about an immigrant family.ABOUT TOWN: An anti-bullying rally and back-to-school festival for families will feature games, food, prizes and giveaways including school supplies. The nonprofit Stopping the Madness Anti-Bullying Foundation is sponsoring the fourth annual event. It will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Pleasant Oaks Recreation Center, 8701 Greenmound Ave. in Pleasant Grove.Pre-registration for school supplies is closed, but all other activities are open. To learn more, email shelley.evans@thedreamersacademy.net or visit the Stopping the Madness Antibullying Foundation page on Facebook.  Continue reading...

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