Kitchen Dog Theater Company (KDT) was founded in 1990 by five graduates of the MFA Theater Program at Southern Methodist University (SMU). The co-founders' decision to remain in Dallas and form an ensemble theater company represented their commitment to enhancing and broadening the artistic canvas of the community. An extension of the common vocabulary and vision of artistic integrity forged while at SMU, Kitchen Dog Theater dedicated itself to creating theater which asks difficult questions and challenges the beliefs and assumptions of the artist and the audience. For KDT, exploring the limits of the actors' physical, mental, and spiritual development was, and is, indelibly linked to stretching and transforming the individual and worldview of the audience.
In the attic of a downtown coffeehouse, KDT debuted in 1991 with a critically acclaimed, sold-out run of Maria Irene Fornes' MUD. Undaunted by shoestring budgets and a lack of rehearsal and performance space, KDT avidly pursued its mission to create a theater integral to the Dallas community and its artists. In the fall of 1994, KDT moved into the the McKinney Avenue Contemporary (The MAC), and remained there through the 2014-2015 Season. KDT moved to The Green Zone temporarily for the 2015-2016 season, and has recently relocated to Trinity River Arts Center (TRAC) at 2600 North Stemmons Freeway, Suite #180, Dallas, TX 75207.
Today, KDT continues to celebrate local talent and create significant artistic opportunities for Dallas actors, designers and technicians. In its 29 year history, KDT has staged 152 productions, and received over 400 awards from various publications, D/FW Critics' Forum and the Dallas Theatre League, including numerous “Best Theater Company” nods. KDT is one of only two theaters in Texas to receive National Endowment for the Arts “Art Works” Awards in the previous six consecutive years. In an effort to nurture the rich talent pool in Dallas, Kitchen Dog maintains a resident company of 33 area artists, including actors, directors, designers, stage managers and playwrights.
Kitchen Dog Theater impacts the development of new works both locally and nationally. KDT is a founding member of the National New Play Network (NNPN), an alliance of 122 professional core member theaters nationally recognized for championing new work and creating leading-edge new play programs. Now in its 22nd year, KDT’s New Works Festival (NWF) is the longest running event of its kind in Texas and has showcased 141 staged readings of new, unproduced plays selected from up to 1000 annual submissions. Diverse on stage and behind the scenes, both culturally and stylistically, the Festival has given voice to some of the world’s best playwrights in various stages of their careers. KDT has produced 30 world premieres and this season’s A History of the Life wand Voyages of Christopher Columbus by Washington Irving will be KDT’s 14th production of a play written by artistic company members, eight of which were company developed. KDT has also been a part of the NNPN's flagship “Rolling World Premiere” program twelve times, partnering with prestigious theaters from around the country. In the past five years, 86% of mainstage productions were regional or world premieres.
Kitchen Dog demonstrates its commitment to new work through the Company's unique New Works Festival. Every year, Kitchen Dog launches an international call for submissions of new, full-length plays. A selection committee reads 400+ submitted scripts and votes on the top plays. The six premiere staged readings are the culmination of that year-long contest. Often, the mainstage production of NWF was a staged reading in a previous Festival.
The first KDT New Works Festival (NWF) in the spring of 1999 featured the world premiere of SMU graduate David Schulner's ISAAC and seven staged readings by playwrights from across the nation. Now in its 16th year, KDT's New Works Festival has presented over 100 staged readings, generated six company-developed pieces and has been a part of the NNPN's flagship program, the Continued Life of New Plays Fund, six times. Many of the NWF playwrights have gone onto to become winners and/or nominees of the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Awards and MacArthur Genius Grants.
Alongside Junior Players (JP), a Dallas arts education organization, Kitchen Dog created Playwrights Under Progress (PUP) Fest, a unique, creative educational outreach program dedicated to the cultivation of youth playwrights that is totally free for participants. Now in its 19th year, PUP Fest includes master classes in every area high school, free citywide workshops for students with theater professionals at area libraries, and two standing-room only performances of jury selected student plays as part of KDT's NWF. In 2017, KDT and JP forged a new partnership, called D-PAC (Dallas – Playwriting Arts Collective), with the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). By leveraging their organizational assets, D-PAC served over 800 DISD students, specifically increasing programming in more economically challenged schools, and plans to provide masterclasses at every high school in the district in the coming year.
In 2017, Kitchen Dog initiated a cutting-edge, innovative accessibility program, called Admit:ALL, which provides 20 free tickets to every performance of every KDT mainstage season production. Admit:ALL is an extension of the company’s egalitarian mission and seeks to reach communities, particularly in high-density, lower income areas, that are often underserved by the arts and eliminate real or perceived barriers to participation. By increasing accessibility and diversifying audiences, Admit:ALL will allow for meaningful conversations between communities and, hopefully, help ignite real change in the community.
For 29 years, Kitchen Dog has provided an artistic home for some of Dallas' best talent. KDT consistently offers local artists the opportunity to take on challenging roles, make bold choices in direction or design, and wrestle with the big questions in both classics and new works. In doing so, KDT has helped keep our best theater artists in Dallas. The company’s long commitment to new work has earned it a national reputation as a leader in the field and helped establish Dallas as a hub for new work. Kitchen Dog is proud to be at the forefront of what it hopes will be a new era of home-grown, established, mid-sized theaters that have a permanent home and control of their destiny, helping further cement Dallas’ reputation as a true city of the arts.