He has won recognition and several awards for his work on and Off-Broadway and regionally at such theaters as the Negro Ensemble Company, American Place, Yale Repertory, Crossroads, Alliance and Baltimore’s Center Stage where he was a Director Fellow for the National Endowment for the Arts. At Chicago’s Goodman Theatre he directed the critically acclaimed world premiere of August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, named one of the Top Ten Best Theatre Events of 1995 by Time Magazine and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
PURLIE – Freedom Theatre Philadelphia, PA, (1996)
Awards include an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts (May 2002), a local Emmy Award (San Francisco), New York’s prestigious AUDELCO National Achievement Award for Excellence in Black Theatre, and several Bronze Jubilee Awards for Outstanding Direction. He received a Proclamation, “Walter Dallas Day” from Atlanta’s Mayor Maynard Jackson, and two Creative Genius Awards from the Atlanta Circle of Drama Critics. For his production of Having Our Say at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum, he received a 1997 NAACP Theatre Award nomination for Best Director.
In 1996, I directed Emily Mann’s “Having Our Say” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. The production featured transcendent performances by Frances Foster and Lynn Thigpen, and received special recognition from the NAACP Image Awards that year. Impresario and founder/producer of the Forum, Gordon Davidson and I share a special moment at the Opening Night Party. – May Frances, Lynn, and David rest in heavenly bliss.
His off-Broadway production of Moms garnered an Obie Award for its star, Clarice Taylor, and resulted in two successful national tours. His production of Desire Under the Elms at Chicago’s Court Theatre received two 2000 Black Theatre Alliance Award nominations. World premieres include works by James Baldwin, Leslie Lee, Sam Kelley, Kia Corthron, Ntozake Shange, Samm-Art Williams, Clarice Taylor, Thulani Davis and others.
2016-17 YSD Annual Magazine Published on Apr 11, 2017 Annual Magazine of the Yale School of Drama.
His own adaptations of the films Cooley High and Sparkle premiered at Freedom. He also premiered John Henry Redwood’s The Old Settler at the McCarter Theatre.
The Old Settler
With my cast, understudies, designers, crews, vocal coach, assistant director, and production team on the set of John Redwood’s The Old Settler, Kogod Theatre, University of Maryland, College Park, February 2011. Photo by Stan Barouh. — with Will Beckstrom, Matt Soper, Anu Yadav, Yedeedya Mellman, Tẹmídayọ Moriamo Akibu, Erica Philpot, Jake K. Ewonus, Sisi Reid, Chris Lane, Camilla Elaine, Will Voorhies, Adriyah Young, Josie Felt, Kathryn Lillian, Scott Kincaid, Cheryl Robinson, and Jonathan JB Berenson.
His world-premiere production of Charles Smith’s Pudd’nhead Wilson, produced by New York’s Acting Company, enjoyed a national tour, a critically acclaimed Off-Broadway run and earned him a 2002 AUDELCO nomination for Best Director.
The Acting Company, Puddn’head Wilson Directed by Walter Dallas. — with Roslyn Ruff, Christen Simon, Michael Lluberes, and Jimonn Cole.
Back in the 80s, as AD of Freedom Theatre and training program of 700 students in Philly, I got permission from Orion Pictures to do a stage version of Cooley High. It was an experiment to combine traditional, Black theatre, (my audience) and Tyler Perry style theatre (of the 80s) to bring those two diff audiences together and hope that both would be pleased. August Wilson and Woodie King came to bear witness to my audience Dev experiment. It was a smash! The theatre won a National award from Audelco in NYC. Next, I did Sparkle: The Musical with Warner Brothers’ blessings. Again, another smash hit combining the two worlds. My 3rd experiment was going to be Claudine, but I left for the theatre for a University residency before it could happen. PS: The original cast of Cooley High saw the show and wanted to support a national tour.
Cooley High The Arts Bank, Philadelphia, PA, (1997) — with Faruq Tauheed Jenkins, Eric Carter, Shawn Patrick Thomas, Kevin Wong, and Joilet F. Harris.
Cooley High, adapted from the film and directed by Walter Dallas
[ Major props to cast members Glynn Turman and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs who attended the premiere of my stage adaption of ‘Cooley High” at Freedom Theatre, Philadelphia,1996. And thanks to screenwriter Eric Monte for helping me get movie studio’s permission to do it. ]
August Wilson visits my Cooley High at Freedom Theatre, Philadelphia, PA Photo by Walter Dallas.
Both studios responded. They wished me well and charged me nothing! I got permission by making one phone call. I wanted to capture more of the women’s POV in Sparkle, so I asked my friend Ntozake Shange to help me with tweaks to the script. We had fun!
Also, an award-winning playwright, his latest play, Lazarus, Unstoned, had its world premiere, to popular and critical acclaim, at Freedom Theatre in April of 2002. Of his Lazarus, Unstoned, the Philadelphia Weekly theatre critic wrote: “It’s often said that the role of the director coincided with the birth of vernacular religious drama, and in Philadelphia, nobody is more adept at this style of theatre than Walter Dallas.”
Additional work with new play development has included experiences at Sundance, the O’Neill, the Public Theatre, New Dramatists, and in Africa, England, France, and Russia.
Hadi with his dedicated, volunteer staff. GHANA
Samuel Addo Danquah and a few members of the World Talents and Youth Network for which I serve as Global Consult, Accra, Ghana
A graduate of Morehouse College and the Yale School of Drama, he also studied music and theology at Harvard University, and dance and theater in traditional African societies at the University of Ghana at Legon. He taught theatre at Antioch College and the University of California, Berkeley. He created the School of Theatre for Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 1983. In 1992 he left to become artistic director at Freedom Theatre.
Walter Dallas: I met Walter during an audition at Meg Simon/Kumin Casting in the winter of 1989. I was a young actor in NYC and had never heard of him. I auditioned for Pill Hill by Sam Kelly for Yale’s Winter Fest and was cast.I’ve had the honor of working with Walter on at least six other productions since that time. Spunk at Philadelphia Drama Guild in 1991, Two Trains Running by August Wilson In 1994, the world premiere of Seven Guitars by August Wilson In 1995,Jitney by August Wilson In 1997, Stick fly at the Arden Theatre in 2013 and Autumn for the Billie Holiday Theatre in 2016..Walter I’d call the quiet storm of directing, quite and precise but roaring and direct when need be.Knowing him mostly as a director and not nearly as social as I’d like I’ve discovered we attended the same high school in Atlanta, Georgia, Henry McNeil Turner High.An incredible photographer as well as having traveled extensively throughout the world with residency in Ghana, Africa. I can still see August and Walter sitting at the work table working on the play, talking to the actors, writing and listening. I look forward to his next work his brilliance has a prominent place in the work we love. Theatre, Film, and Television. Walter Dallas wrote the script for the Motown musicians documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Brilliant. – Jerome Preston Bates
The Piano Lesson
The Piano Lesson, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia. 2008. — with Alison Roberts, Brian A Wilson, Chioma Ngozi Sheri, Courtney Riggar, Julian Rozzell Jr., Harum Ulmer Jr, and Yaegel T. Welch.
(2009) My cast, designers and production team, Spunk, Philadelphia Drama Guild — with Felix Cochran, Johnnie Hobbs, Jr., Barbara Silzle, Roy Backes, Jerome Preston Bates, Cedric Turner, Millicent Sparks, Lisa White, and Saundra McClain.
by August Wilson
JITNEYby August Wilson directed by Walter Dallas with Steve McKinley Henderson, Anthony Chisholm, Jerome Preston Bates, Yvette Ganier, Cortez Nance, Karen Martin, Willis Burks, Ray Aranha, Curtis McClarin and Peggy Johnson. (2010)
THE AMEN CORNER – [PROJECT1voice]
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of James Baldwin, THE AMEN CORNER was produced at the Gerald Lynch Theater.
Directed by Walter Dallas (August Wilson’s SEVEN GUITARS), it starred Chuck Cooper, Adriane Lenox, and Lillias White
Adriane Lenox, Kimberly JaJuan, Lillias White, Leonard Joseph, Chuck Cooper, Jeffery V. Thompson, Elain Graham, and Erich McMillan-McCall
Tony Award winner, Lillias White (Sister Margaret) reads a scene from The Amen Corner with Christopher Lane (David), sophomore performance major at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Elain Graham. Lillias White, Harriett D. Foy, Christopher Lane, Directorial Observer Andre Gardner, and recent University of Maryland grad Camilla Nichols (Sister Sally) during the NYC Project 1 Voice reading of The Amen Corner, June 18, 2012. — with Project1voice.
The Amen Corner– (rehearsal) – Project1voice, Femi Sarah Heggie, Walter Dallas, Erich McMillan-McCall and Gwen Gilliam.
A RASIN IN THE SUN
A Raisin in the Sun The Arden Theatre. 2013 — with Joilet F. Harris, Kash Gokash Goins, Kesserack Kathoom and Walter Dallas (Director).
In Chicago’s South Side in the early 1950s, a life insurance check sent to the Younger’s home arrives with the promise of change. This African American family then considers buying a house in the all-white Clybourne Park, but conflicting aspirations and a neighborhood’s intolerance threaten the dream’s reality.
Walter Dallas (The Piano Lesson, Blue Door) directs this classic drama that paved the way for the African American voice to be heard on stage.
BOESMAN and LENA
February 7-16, 2014
By Athol Fugard
Directed by Walter Dallas
It is the late 1960’s in South Africa as the stranglehold of apartheid tightly grips the country.
In this historical play, we meet an African couple, Boesman and Lena who has been wandering through the bleak mudflats looking for a safe place to pitch their tent. Their universal and powerful story continues to speak to audiences long after the collapse of one the century’s most vicious regimes of oppression.
Produced in association with the Black Theatre Troupe
Cast and Production Staff of “Pill Hill” by Samuel Kelley, directed by Walter Dallas. Winterfest 10, Yale Repertory Theater at the University Theater. (1990).— with Robert Beatty, Christi Karvonides, Lisa A. Wilde, Byron Keith Minns, Maggie Morgan, Nephelie Andonyadis, Jerome Preston Bates, Benard Cummings, Shawn Hamilton-Brown, Walter Dallas, Andrew Mudd, Andy Mudd, Samuel Kelley, Christopher Sibilia, Chris Sibilia, Matthew Everett, Ashley York Kennedy, Joshua Kovar, Rich Gold, Jamie Anderson, Kadina De Ejalde, Kadina De Elejalde and James Triner.
The world premiere of Seven Guitars by August Wilson.. – Albert Hall, Viola Davis, Michelle Shay, Rosalyn Coleman, Tommy Hollis, Ruben Santiago Hudson and Jerome Preston Bates at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. Directed by Walter Dallas
Vera (Viola Davis) and Floyd (Jerome Preston Bates) World premiere, Seven Guitars by August Wilson Goodman Theatre, Chicago, IL. Directed by Walter Dallas, 1995.
Michele Shay and Viola Davis in the Goodman Theatre’s production of August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars,” directed by Walter Dallas. (Eric Y. Exit/Courtesy The Goodman Theatre)
Seven Guitars with Albert Hall, Jerome Preston Bates., Ruben Santiago Hudson, and Tommy Hollis.
By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
“By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” Dawn Ursula. Everyman Theatre. (2014) Photo Credit: ClintonBPhotography
“By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” Beth Hylton. Everyman Theatre. (2014) Photo Credit: ClintonBPhotography
“By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” Kathryn Tkel, Beth Hylton, and Robert Lyons. Everyman Theatre. (2014) Photo Credit: ClintonBPhotography
“By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” Dawn Ursula and Kelli Blackwell. Everyman Theatre. (2014) Photo Credit: ClintonBPhotography
“By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” Dawn Ursula and Yaegel T. Welch. Everyman Theatre. (2014) Photo Credit: ClintonBPhotography
Vera Stark is actually a play about Black film actresses in 1933 who were trying desperately to get parts in a movie, The Belle of New Orleans, a southern epic set in 1855. Fast forward: in 2003, some professors at a university hold a public debate about the important role the star Vera Stark played in that film and American cinematic history. During that meeting, they show a section of the film. It’s that section that we filmed.
Everyman Theatre in Baltimore.
Photos by Walter Dallas, Director, “Vera Stark” film shoot
Richard Wesley (Playwright) and Walter Dallas (Director)
Walter Dallas and I certainly knew of each other, professionally, and had met occasionally across many years, but we’d never worked together until producer Indira Etwaroo, of the Billie Holiday Theater, brought Walter in to direct the New York premiere of my play, AUTUMN. I found myself drawn to his directorial style, which emphasized lean, minimalist acting, brisk and precise movement or blocking and meticulous attention to the text; all of which made for a fast-paced, but never rushed performance. The result was the kind of presentation He was affable, incredibly easy for a playwright to converse with, particularly when discussing the theme and the subtext. As a man, there is not much I can tell you. We never really had the opportunity to socialize much. But, I always remember his warm smile and jovial nature. I remember quiet and steady leadership. These are the qualities every writer looks for in his or her director, but are not often found. That is why there are only a relative handful of directors all the playwrights’ clamor to work with. Walter is one who exists within that rarified circle. I was blessed to have had my opportunity to have him helm my play. I wish such good fortune for every writer. – Richard Wesley
ARCHIVIST, HISTORIAN, and ARTiST
Dale Shields is a professor of theatre, director, and actor (Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, and Regional).
The 2017 winner of The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award®, 2017 and 2015 Tony® award nominee for the Excellence in Theatre Education Award, and the winner of the 2017 AUDELCO/"VIV" Special Achievement Award. On the web, he is the archivist and historian of Iforcolor.org and Black Theatre/African American Voices [Facebook] (theatre, music, and art). He has taught classes and workshops at Susquehanna University, Denison University, Randolph-Macon College, Macalester College, The College of Wooster, Ohio University, Wayne State University, and the Joseph Papp Public Theatre (New York Shakespeare Festival).
B.F.A. and M.F.A. degree from Ohio University.