This Side of the Dirt is a South Texas family drama steeped in satire and humor. The story takes place days after the death of the family patriarch, Papo. We find his daughter, Jean Ann, alone and weeping as she comes to terms with her loss. As each new character enters her home, the layers of her pain and paranoia unfold.
In an effort to curb her insecurities Jean Ann only intensifies them by creating more drama around her. As her paranoia builds -- putting her marriage and friendship on the line -- she enters a downward spiral believing the small talk over the people she loves most. It isn't until the spirit of Papo returns that she re-anchors herself and is able to pull back in everything she thought she'd lost.
With Jonna Juul Hansen as Jean Ann, Beth Shea as Sally, Mark Hernandez as Juan, Wray Crawford as Jimmy, Jennifer Caplan as Jenny and Jae McCain as Anthony, This Side of the Dirt is full of wild characters and big ideas about life, love and friendship. It is a charming snapshot of a lovely yet dysfunctional ranching family guided by the sure-footed and unassuming, Juan, who must keep everyone in balance to ensure their sanity.
This Side of the Dirt was born from the mind of no other than Tito Beveridge. He pieced together a story based on characters in his own life and others that he simply dreamed up. Writing about the subjects that interested him most -- family, friends, land and philosophy – he tinged this all together with a little South Texas flair to create This Side of the Dirt. Tito’s love of these characters drives his narrative through the ups and down of life and family – touching upon those hard hitting moments when we are our weakest then building back up to our best and oftentimes funniest. Most of all This Side of the Dirt is about love and family and the importance of telling it like it is and knowing that in the end it will all work out like it should.
“It’s a story of how one strong minded willful person lives on, after death, in spirit, through his family and friends”, says the renaissance man behind the script, Tito Beveridge, who’s venturing for the first time into playwriting.
Texas is full of great characters. Growing up in West Texas exposed me to some of the best of them. I enjoyed my time with good yarn spinners, drunkards and nutty uncles, aunts and friends in equal parts. I couldn’t get enough of these colorful people. I have always longed to be around them and they inspire the very characters I try to recreate in my filmmaking and writing. When I read Tito’s play, “This Side of the Dirt” I immediately knew this was my kind of story -- a story whose characters were quirky, off kilter and all too familiar. I knew these folks like I knew my own family. And with Tito being the character he is, I couldn’t deny my love for this project. Soon after we decided to give it everything we had to make one of the funniest, character driven, Texas-to-the-bone plays this side of the Brazos. Heck, Broadway might even deserve a touch of Texas insight on life, love and happiness, Tito Beveridge style. I’m proud of what we’ve done to bring “This Side of the Dirt” to life and hope everyone can fondly remember the great characters who have shaped their own lives and stories.
–Ty Roberts, Director
Theme song written and performed live by Shawn Pander for the debut play performed at the Scottish Rite Theater in Austin, Texas, September of 2015.
On Notes From Hoover Street, Shawn Pander’s songs and stories sound so immediate it seems he’s living every line for the first time as you listen. “I take a lot from the experiences of friends and the people around me. Even though I may not know all the details, I know the results and how they feel about them, and I conjure up a story about it.”
His friendship with a local Houston bluesman and street musician named ‘Homeless James’ stirred Panders passion for music and at their last meeting, James gave Pander one of his own guitars as a parting gift, but while Pander treasured the gift, it would be many years before he actually did much more than ‘fumble around on it.