Dallas Theater Center is taking a chance with its 2012-13 season opener. For starters, the show opens Aug. 29 and it’s not even written yet. And the one thing we do know about it is that it plans to satirize Dallas.
But the DTC seems to be in good hands. That’s because the show – Second City Does Dallas – is being conceived by writers from the famed Chicago improv group. DTC artistic director Kevin Moriarty has said he envisions the show has being in the same vein as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
Wednesday afternoon, a group of local arts writers got together at Lee Harvey’s with Brooke Breit and Eddie Furman, two Second City writers in town this week gathering ideas for the show. They got to pick our brains about the area and we got to pick theirs about the show.
Furman said he envisions the show as a, “celebration of the city – a sort of warts and all celebration. We want to show a little slice of life of Dallas to a Dallas audience.”
The company has already done similar shows for Denver, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore, Phoenix, Louisville, Philadelphia, Rochester, Cincinnati and Washington D.C. Furman says the key to these shows is to find the common enemy in the city – what are the things that everyone is united against. Things like traffic or particular sports teams are easy targets.
The trick, though, is making the show specific to Dallas and, by extension, North Texas. So far, Breit and Furman say they’ve learned that Dallas loves a winner; that there’s an interesting dynamic between our religious side and our sports/drinking/strip-clubbing side; and that Dallas and Fort Worth look skeptically at one another.
So, basically, the secrets are out.
But if those topics – and ones similar to them – are the ones that make it into the show, it’s pretty clear that this will be an exercise in laughing with Dallas as opposed to laughing at Dallas. Which makes sense, not wanting to bite the hand that feeds and all.
“People love to recognize themselves on stage. To say, ‘I related to that’,” Breit says. “We try to look for those things and heighten them or find the joke of the situation.”
Someone in our group asked if DTC would have final script approval. The writers said, basically, yes – but not in the way you normally hear about. Since they are the outsiders, it’s important to them that the tone of the show be right, and that nothing goes unintentionally too far. For that, you need a local set of eyes, and that’s where DTC comes in.
“I can appreciate Dallas being so welcoming and letting us into their lives,” Breit says. “And then being able to do what we do and hopefully everyone enjoys what comes out of it.”
I pointed out that she then gets to turn around and lampoon the people who were so welcoming.
“Yeah, and then we’ll never come back again so no one can find us,” she said.