By Blair Crane
Undermain Theatre was founded in 1984 by a group of artists who transformed a warehouse basement under Main Street in Dallas into a performance space and began producing experimental plays. Under the guidance of Founding Artistic Director Katherine Owens and Executive Producer Bruce DuBose, the company’s reputation grew in Dallas and beyond.
As the only non-profit arts organization in Deep Ellum, Undermain Theatre has played a vital role in the revitalization of the Deep Ellum neighborhood. They are a company of artists seeking to inspire, educate and challenge audiences and artists through their productions of innovative theater with particular interest in poetic and language-driven work.
Today, Undermain produces a subscription season of plays for an audience of 5,500 patrons from North Texas. With heightened attention to language, the company premieres new work, revisits seminal modern work, and presents reimagined stagings of classic works by writers seen as key artistic influencers of their experimental tradition. Because of its national reputation for artistic excellence and experimental programming, Undermain has produced 35 world premiere productions, contributing to the American theatrical canon and introducing new voices to Dallas audiences.
This year, its 36th season, Undermain Theatre brings to Dallas three premieres in its “Year of the Maverick.” Gordon Dahlquist’s “Red Chariot” opens the season. This world premiere science fiction thriller takes audiences on a journey through time as they explore the chaotic effects of new technological advancements and the role humans have, or haven’t, played in stopping that chaos. Following “Red Chariot” is the regional premiere of Larissa FastHorse’s satire “The Thanksgiving Play.” The new year brings an adaptation of “Madame Bovary” by American master of the avant-garde, Adrienne Kennedy. Premiering regionally, Undermain undertakes Flaubert’s classic through the eyes of Emma Bovary’s own daughter — a fresh and exciting approach to this classic novel.
To conclude the season, Undermain’s “Whither Goest Thou America: A Festival of New American Play Readings” returns for its third year. Highlighting plays that examine the American landscape, audiences have the opportunity to experience a new reading every week and engage in discussions with the playwright and cast on select evenings.
At the heart of Undermain Theatre is its company of artists, which consists of actors, directors, designers and producers who are deeply embedded in the Theatre’s artistic life. Company members are seen on Undermain’s stage throughout the season, and many patrons come to know them through their work at Undermain and around North Texas. This family of artists reinforces the warmth and hospitality Undermain strives to give to every person who journeys into their basement on Main Street.
On July 21, 2019, Undermain Theatre’s cherished artistic leader Katherine Owens (pictured) passed away after a five-month illness. With her passing, she leaves behind a revered legacy of art that is transformative and inspiring and a company of friends built by her guidance and love for the craft of theater. Undermain’s board, staff and artistic company remain steadfast in honoring and moving forward with the artistic vision Katherine created for Undermain, under the direction of her husband and artistic partner, Producing Artistic Director Bruce DuBose.
Every year, Undermain Theatre is proud to partner with Communities Foundation of Texas and participate in North Texas Giving Day. This year, the theatre hopes to raise $15,000 — a marked increase from previous years. Every dollar raised, and bonus funds received from NTGD gifts, directly impacts the art brought to Dallas for this season and into the future.
When you “Get Up and Give” to deserving North Texas non-profits on Thursday, Sept. 19, please consider a donation to Undermain Theatre. Its legacy and history of providing innovative theater by North Texas artists for North Texas audiences is strengthened by your advocacy and support. Find more information at undermain.org or by calling 214-747-1515.