Pocket size entertainment

Without the usual popcornthrowing, beer-drinking crowd that attends the main shows, the small group at the Pocket Sandwich Theater’s Tuesday night improv comedy show feels like a family gathering.In fact, the theater itself-lined with tables and chairs that encircle the stage and decorated with gaudy paintings, mismatched chandeliers, a moose head, and walltowall photographs of past actors-feels more like a funky living room than a theater. But it seems to be just what appeals to theatergoers in Dallas.

In its 33rd year, it has even exceededthe expectations of the two men who founded it. Rodney Dobbs and Joe Dickinson wanted to create a venue for producing their own shows, but expected it to last a few years at most. It began in a sandwich shop on lower Greenville Avenue, where it earned its name, but has since moved to its current location, tucked away in the corner of a strip mall on Mockingbird Lane.

“It’s a great place to perform,” said John Rawley, an actor at the theatre. “It reminds me of the little hole-in-the-wall kind of place you might find in the alleyways of New York.”

Thanks to ticket and food sales, it is one of only a few for-profit theater companies that are self-sustaining in Dallas, and other major cities. Since its conception in 1980, the theater has mounted more than 250 productions, ushered in 700,000 customers and is also the second longest continually operated (and third oldest) theater in the city.

According to manager Shannon Dickinson, on an average night they must seat, feed, and perform for about 100 peoplein the span of approximately 90 minutes. And with approximatelytwo shows per night, business is not slow.

The theater produces both melodramas as well as spoofs, alternating between serious pieces and slapstick comedy, when the audience is allowed to throw popcorn at the actors.On some nights, it is impossible to see the floor from the mess. In fact, the theater has already plowed through more than 100,000 pounds of popcorn since the tradition began.

“The weekends can get very rowdy,” said actressLiz Robinson, “Some people arrive already drunk.”

But it is this ambiance that seems to attract customers each week, and at pretty affordable prices,(ranging from $7-$30) it is one of the few places that offers
easy-to-access theater to the greater Dallas community almost seven nights a week.“Critics said we wouldn’t last more than a year or two,said manager Shannon Dickinson, “But we’re still here, and where are they?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *