Arts lovers rejoice. There’s a new theater in town and it’s got something for everyone. Founded in Atlanta over a decade ago, TeCo (pronounced teeco) Theatrical Productions moved to 215 South Tyler Street this summer. Executive Director, Teresa Coleman Wash, says their mission is to “promote awareness of family values through dramatic artistic expression.”

Working directly with local schools, the company brings theater to life for children of all ages throughout the metroplex, offering such diverse programs as Fun With Shakespeare, Collages and Cultures of Africa, and after-school drama workshops. Dance classes also find top-billing, including hip hop, jazz and ballet.

One of the programs Wash is most proud of is the play, Succeeding Beyond The Limits, which features success stories of famous figures such as Whoopi Goldberg, Albert Einstein and Picasso. According to Wash, the play teaches children and adults that a learning difference should not prevent anyone from excellence. Like many presentations at TeCo, this play helps students enhance reading skills, build vocabulary and apply critical thinking.

Since moving to Dallas in 2000, TeCo has been hosting performances in the Hall of State at Fair Park. A generous patron found the Tyler Street property and made a donation enabling TeCo to buy it. “We wanted to be on this side of the Trinity,” Wash says, “and with the Bishop Arts district nearby, this area is primed for a theater.”

Construction is already complete on the lobby, administrative suites and box office. Work continues on the 218-seat theater, dressing rooms and workshop space, and should be finished next summer. Wash expects the first Oak Cliff performance to take place in the fall of 2007.

TeCo is not just kids stuff either. Adults won’t feel left out because TeCo is planning to offer programs to engage the entire family. Wash loves introducing children to the arts, but to really be effective, she says, “we need to get the parents involved, too.”

Intrigued? Not to worry; you don’t have to wait a year to get involved with TeCo. The annual New Play Competition offers a unique opportunity for community-involvement. Originally designed to encourage novice writers, the contest is now open to playwrights of any age and experience, with audiences voting for the best one-act play. The winner receives a cash prize and two roundtrip Southwest Airlines tickets. A call for scripts for the 2007 contest will go out in December.

As is the case with any non-profit organization, TeCo relies on outside funding for its livelihood. The Harold Simmons and AT&T Foundations, along with the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and others, assisted with the construction of the administrative suites. And fundraising for the theater development is currently underway. Wash hopes a corporation or generous individual will purchase the two box suites, explaining that donations of any size are greatly appreciated.

“My job is so fulfilling,” states Wash. “We have great relationships with the schools in this district.” In addition to their numerous performances, TeCo also helps teachers avoid burnout by offering a workshop on self-care that includes stress reduction, meditation and yoga.

Reaching out to students, parents, and teachers, TeCo is a great addition to the Oak Cliff artistic community