Friday, May 31, 2013

Swearingen featured in an article about the FIT

How to Stay FIT 
We talk to players in this year's Festival of Independent Theatres, about the event, which begins Friday. 

by Lauren Smart for
published Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jeff Swearingen as Dinosaur in DINOSAUR AND ROBOT STOP A TRAIN

Dallas — The 15th Festival of Independent Theatres has a lot to offer audiences. The four-week fest bows at the Bath House Cultural Center on Friday, May 31, a good month earlier than usual to align with the Theatre Communications Group conference in the Dallas Arts District June 6-8. The line-up includes many staples, including Churchmouse Productions, Wingspan Theatre Company, Echo Theatre and One Thirty Productions. There are several debuts, including solo performance artist John Michael’s provocative new show Like Me and the first-ever dance troupe, Rhythmic Souls. 

“This year is a really good sampling of what the festival is about, from new work to reputable local artists,” says David Meglino, managing director of FIT. “The line-up is interesting and will hopefully introduce the audiences to new shows and new companies.”

The works are performed in two-show performance blocks, and like many festivals throughout the country, FIT is a great place to see the work of up-and-coming local performers. 

TheaterJones caught up with a few of this year’s budding artists about their work in the festival and throughout the city. You can also read about each of the shows here, which also has info on ticket prices and performance times. 

Jeff Swearingen 

“It’s been a lifelong goal of mine to play a dinosaur,” local funnyman and theater teacher Jeff Swearingen says about his performance with Audacity Theatre Lab at the festival. “Seriously, ask anyone who knows me well.” 

In the middle of Black Forest Coffee next door to Half Priced Books, he’s stopped speaking to imitate a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Just a minute later he untwists his head and stretches his arms out to explain the plot of Dinosaur and Robot Stop a Train

Playwright and Audacity Artistic Director Brad McEntire’s festival entry has a dinosaur (Swearingen) and a robot (McEntire) from the future converge in the present day. The audience meets them at a press conference where the odd duo attempt to explain how they unwittingly arrived in the 21st century and what they will do now. 

“The play has aspects of vaudeville about it. It’s a very funny play that uses clever wordplay,” Swearingen says.“It’s the perfect show for FIT because it’s original and experimental.” 

Swearingen’s relationships with both the festival and with Audacity span roughly a decade. In a quick count, he’s performed in seven seasons of FIT—one year acting in three shows. This man stays busy. 

An in-demand theater instructor, Swearingen also co-founded Fun House Theatre and Film in 2011. In less than two years, he’s adapted or written several plays, which he then directs with a cast of children and youths. In the company’s early years he garnered critical acclaim for his adaptation of The Little Prince and more recently his version of David Mamet’sGlengarry Glen Ross, in which he recast the salesmen as a troupe of young girls similar to Girl Scouts (this show is scheduled for a return engagement June 5-8).

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