Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
I was excited to see the Dallas Theatre Center's production of Sense and Sensibility for a couple of reason. First, my friend and fellow Aggie Player, Christie Vela, was playing Mrs. Dashwood. Second, having never been to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Kalita Humphreys Theatre, and as I was a big fan of Falling Water, I was excited to see this historic building. The outside was just as I imagined, cantilevered with no ninety degree angles. Frank Lloyd Wright may have had a brilliant and original vision for the outside of the building but the inside is a practical mess. The lobby is elegant with gold Art Deco columns. The interior of the house was upholstered in red velvet cushions and red carpet but the seats were so close together I felt like I was sitting on top of my husband rather than next to him. The worst part of the experience was a trek to the bathroom at intermission which was a hellish nightmare. FLW completely ignored traffic flow. The line to the bathrooms snakes down a narrow spiral staircase and into a claustrophobic hallway. The only doors to both the women's and men's bathrooms were right next to each other at the end of the hallway. Getting in and out of either of the bathrooms felt like walking the corridors of a WWII submarine.
After the show, Christie led me on a tour of the backstage areas and it is clear that the lack of space in the dressing rooms, the green room, and the wings, make for a difficult time for the actors and crew to get around and get their work done. Christie said that when the building was in process FLW insisted that there should be no elevator. He built a ramp from the loading dock door up to the stage area. Anecdotal stories say that the minute FLW left the work site, a freight elevator was installed to lift scenery up to the stage. When FLW came back for the opening, the elevator was hidden by a piece of scenery. Later, the ramp was turned into stairs. Christie also told me that although the building is now a historic landmark for the city of Dallas, they have not been doing due diligence to maintain it. The carpets were threadbare in spots, the columns were chipped, the fountain wasn't working. The whole place just seems sad and run-down, which is unfortunate. I completely understand why the Wyly Theatre was built and now houses most of the DTC season.
However, despite the ridiculous and impractical design of the backstage areas of the theatre, the production didn't suffer. The direction, design, and acting were superb. The designers were all USA members imported from New York. Many members of the cast were Equity members. The fresh, new adaptation by Kate Hamill was fast-paced and full of dramatic action rather than the word-heavy exposition-laden versions currently available. The costume design was both clever and elaborately detailed. I was thrilled when I discovered that the DTC had produced a video of the costume designer, Moira Clinton, talking about her work. The show runs through May 24. I would highly encourage you to reserve your tickets now.
Seams and sensibility
Before the play, Christy Vela gives a free, 30 minute talk sharing her research and love of Jane Austen's life, novels, and the impact her work had on her contemporaries and still has today. After the performance, Daniel Duque-Estrada and various other actors host a conversation about the performance. Christie and Daniel are both members of Actors' Equity Association as well as Brierley Resident Acting Company members.
An interview with Costume Designer, Moria Clinton. Moria is a member of the United Scenic Artists Union and works professionally in New York. She graduated from the Yale School of Drama.
Meet the dashwood sisters
An interview with Laura Gragtmans and Morgan Laure who play Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Laura is a member of Actor's Equity. Morgan is a student at SMU Meadows School of the Arts.
DTC's Study guide
This is a free download for teachers to use in their classrooms provided by the Dallas Theatre Center and available on their website.
Total cost of the event: Tickets $59.