Reverb Play Festival – “Dangerous works for a dangerous world”

Echo Theatre's "Reverb Play Festival" is April 21-23 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.

by Rob Howard
Associate Editor

“It’s just a little theatre company trying to change the world,” says Machele Miller Dill, the Artistic Director of Tulsa’s Echo Theatre Company. After producing a play for the 100th anniversary of World War I in 2014, she said, “We found we could fill a niche – plays about social justice, education and with a global element.”

This month, Echo is producing the Reverb Play Festival, featuring “Dangerous works for a dangerous world.” The festival seeks works that focus on bringing ‘of the moment’ social justice issues to light – racism, sexism, ageism, sizeism, immigration, violence, poverty and other issues.

“There are a lot of socially relevant plays out there,” says Dill. “Our dedication is to new work. I want to give focus to new work that focuses on social justice. It’s important to do them and hear them, to give voice to that.”

Dill was surprised at the response after announcing the festival competition. “I got 30 submissions in the first 12 hours. Every ‘ism’ you can imagine.”

One in the LGBTQ category has to do with a transgender person transitioning from male to female. “The internal monologue of ‘how I feel’, the conflict of making that transition,” makes the short play gripping, said Dill.

Another is about sexual harassment in the workplace and women taking on non-traditional roles. “We think of women as nurturing, as mothers and caretakers. But when they are in a management position and are strong or have a strong opinion, they are viewed as a bitch, where if it was a man, they would be viewed as a strong leader.”

One that particularly caught Dill’s attention was about animal rights and how animals are treated in the food industry. How Are You Gonna Keep Them Down On The Farm After They’ve Seen Corned Beef is a farce. Only 10 minutes long, it features cows out in the field talking about how their children never contact them. When a horse tells them their children have been taken to a slaughterhouse, the cows decide to break their kids out.

Once the plays are selected – Dill expects that around six full length plays and a number of short plays will be selected – the fun begins.

”We are searching for directors, playwrights and actors who believe in Echo’s mission statement – ‘Illuminate/Stimulate/Inspire,’” says Dill.

The festival is only accepting plays that at 90 minutes long or less. They have to not have been fully produced, although they could have been part of a reading at a workshop. “We want Echo Theatre to be the first place the plays we select are produced,” says Dill.

There will be four performance events in the Reverb Play Festival, April 21-23, three evenings and a Saturday matinee, which will feature several short plays. Each play will be presented twice during the weekend. The festival is at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for each event, or $30 for all four and may be purchased online at or at the TPAC box office.

“I want to reiterate that all voices deserve to be heard; theatre is a great way to do it,” says Dill. “I want to hear new voices that can change the world.”

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – April 7, 2017 @ 1:20 p.m.