A Conversation with The Core Theatre Artistic Director James Hansen Prince
The Core Theatre, a hidden gem in the downtown Richardson area, has been in the Dallas theatre scene since 2008. Founded by James Hansen Prince, the theatre aims to share uplifting stories of hope through diversity. Dallas Art Beat chatted with Prince about the stories he wants to tell, the upcoming 2020 Season at The Core Theatre, and what keeps him inspired to create art.
How did you get started in theater and what was your inspiration to start The Core Theatre?
I started when I was a kid down in Houston at the Houston Music Theater. I came from a pretty screwed up family, and we didn't have any money. So, they let me sweep up the theatre in exchange for acting lessons. And then I stopped doing it during high school because I got into playing sports, but I missed it, so I got back into theatre in college at UT Arlington.
The Core Theatre was founded in 2008. I wanted to do a work that was meaningful to me. That's why I slid into writing as well because I wasn't finding things out there that were saying the things I was thinking about. For example, I did a play called Behind the Cotton Curtain. It was about the end of the Jim Crowe era through the eyes of Medgar Evers. The play I wrote explored who he was, his parents and how they influenced Medgar to be such a peaceful person. He chose not to take the violent routes.
Another example is the play I wrote, Cocoanut Grove, about a fire that happened in Boston in 1942. About a third of the script is verbatim dialogue – words out of the mouths of the real people. I wanted to stay true to the facts, and let people know that there’s hope at the end of it. If things change, things often get better.
Is there are any specific any special meaning behind the name?
Just, I wanted to stay true to our core principles, and I wanted to create a core group of actors and writers and directors.
What approach do you take for finding projects that you would like to do, and what are the common themes you’re drawn to?
Well, first I look for original scripts. If I can’t find original work, I just look for other scripts that I like. This year we’ve got six shows [in our 2020 Season]. Five of them are original and the one that's already published is by Steven Dietz out of Austin, TX. His play is called Last of the Boys.
The first one we're going to be doing is called The Scenic Route. It's the story of Jim Finger's life. Jim finger left San Antonio at 24 years old in 1965 to go out to LA to become an actor, hopped a bus with a hundred bucks in his pocket, was failing miserably, you know, working two jobs, and uh, he had always done art all his life. So six months later, he's a painting on Cool Hand Luke and Camelot and uh, worked for Warner Brothers Studio for about 20 years.
The second one we'll be doing is actually, Bill Rhoten - who runs Theater Rocks, and he does a lot of original works - is going to bring his group up and do a play that he wrote called Mojave, which is the true story of a Caucasian woman reentering society after living with Indians for years.
We're following that with Last of the Boys in May and during the break for summer, we're doing a new adaptation of Tom Sawyer.
Finally, what keeps you inspired to create theatre?
It's about the audience. It's about stories. It's about telling the stories, right and honest and not beat people up because of their race or gender or their political persuasion. You know, it's about people. Connecting with all types of people. That is art to me. __________________________
The Core Theatre will open The Scenic Route by Jim Fingers on February 7, 2020. Be sure to visit https://thecoretheatre.org for the complete 2020 Season, and more information about the theatre.