By Shari Goldstein Stern
When the expressive actress Kateri Cale talks about Dallas’ Echo Theatre (Echo) and its origins, her big brown eyes puddle up. The actress/vocalist/director/producer carries her passion for Echo on her costume’s sleeve. Her sentiment for the now-dark-but-not-for-long Echo’s mission is apparent. Echo is dedicated to, in short, producing plays written by women.
In April, Cale was named managing artistic director of the theatre, which has held productions at White Rock Lake’s Bath House Cultural Center (BHCC) for 20 years, when Susie Blaylock founded the theatre. Echo is one of the resident theater companies performing at the BHCC. Cale, who is half Native American, is the first woman of color to lead the company.
In 1998, Cale appeared in Echo Theatre’s inaugural production, “Dream of a Common Language.” She served as a creative partner for 10 years, appearing in seven shows and co-writing two. Kale joined Echo as a producing partner in 2008. She served as publicist, designer, Echo Reads producer and appeared in many shows.
When the actress received news of her appointment, she was already cast in Shakespeare in the Park’s “Shakespeare in Love” at Samuell Grand Park, 6200 E. Grand Ave. She chose to fulfill her commitment there and is currently featured as the maid. Her dog, Jack Daniels, plays Spot in the production.
“My parents and everyone around me knew when I was very young, I was already a diva,” Cale explained. She earned a BFA from the Performing Arts College of Santa Fe.
The director/producer and her husband, Bob McVay, have lived in White Rock Hills for more than 20 years.
Some of her onstage work at Echo has included the music and dance revue, “The Echo Room presents: HER SONG;” “The Lucky Chance;” and “The Early Education of Conrad Eppler.” She recently appeared in “Radiant Vermin” at Kitchen Dog Theatre.
Between 1993 and 1996, Cale appeared in four productions at Undermain Theatre. Cast with her was local actor Brian Hoffman, who said, “I always remember Kateri’s caring presence. I was a newcomer to Undermain, and as a veteran she always made me feel welcome and a part of the team. I have no doubt that has contributed to her success at Echo.”
Cale describes herself as a “hit the ground running” kind of leader. She is reaching out for new board members and creatives who will work together to re-launch Echo with its next show in September, “US/THEM.”
“Both ‘US/THEM’ and ‘#MeToo Monologues’ will include audience talkbacks with specialists in trauma counseling,” Cale said. “These plays will inform and move audiences and could even provide an outlet for past experiences that need to be released.”
Cale added, “This season will also offer a fun secret project that I can announce very soon, so keep an eye on our website to hear about that and the rest of our great programming. I invite all our neighbors to come to the theatre. Our prices are going down for the rest of this season. Down!”
Additionally, Cale has been busy adding two new board members, meeting with area arts leaders, and moving all of Echo’s sets, costumes, props and belongings to new storage.
“I’ve been calling in lots of favors,” she admitted.
“The work that Echo will be tackling in our next few seasons will reflect an expansion of our mission to produce plays written by women,” Cale said. “If there is a social impact message in the script, we’ll be partnering with other non-profits to offer our patrons the opportunity to learn and even become involved if they choose to.”
Cale spoke thoughtfully about Echo’s mission: “We call the theatre ‘Echo’ for a reason. The words echo out and go on and on. Important words continue to be heard again and again. We do what we do for the community. We do it to reflect the culture of the people. A lot of that will live on. Women’s voices need to be at the table. All sides need to be heard.”
September 5-21, Echo will present a play about terrorism, written specifically for children. The play’s actors themselves brought their work to Echo.
For additional information, visit echotheatre.org. Cale welcomes those who are interested in supporting the women’s theater in some way as it enters its third decade and invites your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.