his past February there was a week when the Dallas Theater
Center hummed with activity. King Lear wrapped up its run
on the Wyly Theatre main stage; Red opened in the rehearsal
hall on the ninth floor; The Odd Couple started rehearsals at the
“There was so much exciting work happening at once,” Power
says of DTC, where he is currently the playwright-in-residence. “I
don’t know too many theaters in America cranking out so much
Power began his tenure in Dallas at Southern Methodist University
by winning the Meadows Prize, which earned him a residency at the
University in the fall of 2011. This led to a position on the faculty.
During this time, he was developing relationships with local theaters.
At the beginning of 2013, he was awarded a Carnegie Mellon grant
to work as the playwright-in-residence at the Dallas Theater Center.
As such, Power collaborates with artistic director Kevin Moriarty to
expand the theater audience into different neighborhoods. In the next
three years, DTC also promises to stage three of his works including
a full production of Stagger Lee, slated for the 2014-15 season.
“I’ve been learning so much from SMU and Dallas Theater
Center and I’ve been giving back to them too,” Power says. “But
I feel lucky to be learning from the inside from Dean Bowen and
Kevin about how it all comes together.”
Power’s varied career as playwright, educator, and performer
started in the music industry as a hip-hop artist. When he transitioned
into theater in his 20s, he focused on melding the rhythms of rap
with the lyricism into classical theater. This remains a cornerstone of
his work, but in the past decade he’s taken on projects as distinct as
a modern adaptation of the Greek tragedy Seven Against Thebes to a
drama about Cassius Clay.
In Stagger Lee, Power uses a more traditional musical structure
to tell the story of the American dream. He focuses on legendary
figures in the country’s history, including the eponymous character
Tin the turn-of-the-century folk song for which the show was named. For this musical, Power plans to use jazz and funk music. “I don’t necessarily work in one form my whole life; I tend to get to know a form really well and then break out of it.” Power says.
“In Dallas I hope to put works onstage from different phases of my
Since accepting the position at DTC, Power moved his family
from New York City to Dallas and plans to grow more invested
in the city and its artistic scene. One of his initiatives is the Dallas
Playwrights Workshop, a group for three to five local writers working
to hone their craft and “bump heads.”
“The talent in Dallas is staggering, but people think they have to
go to New York or L.A. to be something,” Power says. “There are
amazing things going on in Dallas, and up in New York people are
starting to talk. The reputation will follow.”
Under the artistic direction of Moriarty DTC continues to present
and develop new work by creating partnerships with playwrights and
theaters around the country. Earlier this year, the company created
the position of Director of New Play Development, in which Lee
Trull oversees new play workshops and readings, as well as full
productions of plays and musicals. In his role, he plans to support
and work alongside Power to develop a pool of writers at home.
“I think Will connects very deeply to the idea of community,
particularly to the idea of bringing together artists to share work,”
Trull says. “I’m 100 percent sure Dallas will be a better place just for
having him around.”
Power echoes this enthusiasm for the community he’s already
begun to develop in Dallas, branching outside SMU and DTC to
local theaters like Teco Theatrical Productions in Oak Cliff. He
understands that to earn national prominence, Dallas must start by
cultivating local voices.
“If I’m in Dallas for five years or for 20 years, I want to give the
community something that can help it get on,” Power says. “I’m just
asking questions of this city and its playwrights. Where is the beauty?
And how do we get that on stage?” P
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