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Plans For New Dallas Performing Arts Venue Unveiled to Public

By Catherine Cuellar, KERA 90.1 reporter

Dallas, TX – Bill Lively, President and CEO of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation: When you think of a theater you think of a fly loft, a high tower chamber and an audience chamber that's horizontal making an L-shaped right angle configuration, with a front of house and back of house. The Wyly Theatre, though, changes everything. It has a below house and above house and everything is vertical, making an extraordinary rectangular box configuration with component parts, so it's totally unique in its concept.

Catherine Cuellar, KERA 90.1 reporter: How will this enhance the local theatre community for producing companies of various sizes?

Well, the configuration of this theater is such you can produce any kind of classic or experimental theater in this new facility no matter what it may be. It could be Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, John Steinbeck, the most avant-garde production, large, small, any kind of staging configuration so that small organizations or large ones can produce and perform in here no matter what they wish to do.

Cuellar: And what role will this play in the Arts District in Downtown Dallas?

Lively: Well, the construction of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, including the Wyly Theatre will complete the Dallas Arts District. It was conceived, the dream of it, 25 years ago, and when we open these buildings in the fall of '09 we will in effect complete the district and have all its original planned facilities constructed.

Cuellar: What is the most distinctive advantage of this new Opera?

Lively: Well, it's not often that cities are building great opera houses these days, in this country or around the world. More commonly cities build multi-performing arts facilities, multi-purpose halls. This hall is being designed foremost for the acoustic requirements of opera, but also, its stage and its other accommodations will provide a new venue for first-run Broadway in Dallas and for ballet and all forms of dance, but it will be a hall. Like the Meyerson was in effect designed for symphony orchestra, this hall will be designed for grand opera and great Broadway and great musical theatre in ways we don't have venues that can produce that quality in Dallas today.

Cuellar: Can you talk about the capacity of the two venues and the range of performances that the new performing arts center will be able to accommodate?

Lively: Yes, the Opera House is the largest of all the venues. It'll seat 2200 approximately. You can seat no more in a venue of that kind because you begin to affect the acoustics in a negative way. The Wyly Theater will seat in its maximum capacity between 600 and 700 but it can be thrust or proscenium or arena or flat floor stage concepts, so the seating is dictated by the format. And that theater will again be for any kind of classic or experimental theatrical production.


Email Catherine Cuellar about this story.