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Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

“You can choose to share your secrets or not share your secrets,” David Hanson tells his audiences.

For several years, Hanson has led those audiences through “immersive theater” experiences in Kansas City, and he will do so again at Open Spaces with a free performance of his play “Bird in the Hand.”

Immersive theater differs from traditional theater in that audience members are active, not passive, observers. Hanson gives the example many people are familiar with: murder mystery dinner theater, where it’s up to audience members to solve a mystery.

Coy Dugger / KCUR 89.3

Eric Rosen is saying goodbye to Kansas City. But not without a few sniffles first.

Rosen, who is moving to New York, began his role as artistic director of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre in May 2008. Rosen was 37 and, at the time, the youngest director to lead the organization.

“I found a community here. People I love, people I’ll miss dearly,” Rosen told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “I’m not going to cry.”

Segment 1: Artistic director of the KC Rep is leaving soon. How has local theatre changed?

After 10 years with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Eric Rosen is saying farewell to Kansas City. We chat with the artistic director about how the local theatre scene has changed during his tenure.

Segment 2, beginning at 22:50: What do audiences expect from local theatrical productions?

Grecian-style columns wrapped in colorful banners. A sign that reads "Open Spaces" hangs below.
Kathleen Pointer / KCUR 89.3

For a while now, much of Kansas City's arts community has been abuzz about Open Spaces, the 62-day arts festival that's giving a platform to local, national and international artists. The plan, hatched nearly five years years ago by an arts commission Mayor Sly James put together, is becoming a reality this weekend.

Two people standing in front of Broadway theater posters.
Theater League

Nearly 40 years ago, he abandoned a career in law for one in show business. And it worked out.

Mark Edelman is the long-time force behind the Theater League, an organization that brings in national tours of Broadway productions. Now, he's retiring.

He said the low cost of living and the local community helped him take the leap into the world of musical theater and, ultimately, have a successful life while working in a field that offers no guarantees.

"You can get it done in Kansas City," he told Steve Kraske during a conversation on KCUR's Up To Date.

A one story house with a boarded up window on the left, the window on the right blocked on the interior with boxes and junk, and debris on the roof.
SamaraSteele / Creative Commons

Segment 1: Legal organization teams with community development financial institution to transform abandoned residences into affordable housing.

U People Improv

“Subversive minstrelsy.” That’s how Brandey Chandler describes the inspiration for an upcoming performance at the Kansas City Improv Festival.

Chandler is one of nine members of the troupe U People, which was formed in February by a group of Kansas City-based black improvisers.

Segment 1: Is the phrase "white people" becoming taboo?

On this episode, we explore the concept of whiteness as an identity and why some people are uncomfortable with the term.

  • Micah Kubic, author, Freedom, Inc. and Black Political Empowerment
  • Lona Davenport, program coordinator, Division of Diversity and Inclusion at UMKC

Segment 2, beginning at 33:50: How Shakespeare can help prisoners improve their social skills.

Jordana Sturaro

Imagine if a comic-con and a burlesque festival had a baby.

That’s how Annie-Mae Allure, the executive producer of this week’s Kansas City Nerdlesque Festival, describes the event, where performances will focus on themes such as science fiction and fantasy in what’s been billed as a “shame-free zone” at the Just Off Broadway Theatre.

Allure expects around 40 cast members, both local and touring, from as far away as Alaska and British Columbia.

Theater League / Warner Brothers Theatricals

People all over the world are obsessed with “The Wizard of Oz." But there is no place in the world where it has as much cultural value as in Kansas, where "Somewhere over the Rainbow" can be considered as much the state song as "Home on the Range."

“It's become synonymous with ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” says Mark Edelman, head of Theater League, which produced this latest version of the iconic story that opened Wednesday at Providence Amphitheater (formerly known as Sandstone) in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

Rural Movie Theaters

Jul 31, 2018

Movie theaters are more than a place to watch the latest blockbuster. They're a place of first dates. A place to get out of the rain. A place where communities can share an experience. But what happens to a small town if they lose that theater? On this episode, we explore what's causing rural movie theaters to close and learn about the efforts to keep them alive. 

Seg. 1: Hir. Seg. 2: Story Of Ed Dwight

Jun 5, 2018

Segment 1: Comedic play at The Unicorn invites serious conversations on gender identity.

The comedy Hir revolves around the story of a transitioning teen and their dysfunctional family. Find out how one performer connects with their role on a personal level.

  • Ahafia Jurkiewicz-Miles, actor

The production of 'Hir' runs at The Unicorn Theater through June 24. For ticketing and information, visit UnicornTheatre.org.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

As a kid growing up on his family’s farm in Louisburg, Kansas, David Wayne Reed just wanted to perform.

He wore his mom’s heels, a cinched-up shirt as a dress, and a wig to entertain visiting seed salesmen. He also choreographed dances for the hay crew.

“As kind of a slightly effeminate little kid, (farming) was hard, it was masculine, and I didn’t know that I really fit in. I kind of felt like a little bit of a square peg,” Reed told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard.

David Wayne Reed

May 18, 2018
Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

He's an actor, writer, storyteller ... and now, filmmaker. While growing up on his family's farm in Louisburg, Kansas, David Wayne Reed used to dress in drag and perform shows for the hay crew and visiting seed salesmen. He became a founding member of KC's Late Night Theatre. And in his new film, he returns to his farm roots.

Helix Architecture + Design

The University of Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday announced the merger of two arts programs: the Conservatory of Music and Dance and the Department of Theatre. 

The theater department will move from the College of Arts and Sciences to a school in the Conservatory, according to an email to faculty and staff written by UMKC Interim Chancellor and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Vi Tran’s journey has taken him from Vietnam to refugee camps in southeast Asia to Garden City, Kansas, and finally to a burger joint in Kansas City, Missouri, where he began telling his story and created a space for others' stories in all types of formats.

Past a row of pinball machines, at the back of the Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill, is a large room with concrete floors, black tablecloths draped over round tables, the smell of burgers and a bare-bones stage.

UMKC Theatre

The last Saturday in April was bright and warm, and the students walking around campus at the University of Missouri-Kansas City wore, along with their shorts, the confident expressions of the just-about-done. It was almost summer.

Inside the school’s Spencer Theatre, the season had already arrived, but the young people onstage were about to start something.

Cue Martha and the Vandellas: It's an invitation across the nation, a chance for folks to meet/They'll be laughing and singing, music swinging/Dancing in the street.

Unicorn Theatre / Facebook

The Unicorn Theatre's staging of a play with an all-Asian-American cast is “a landmark event,” according to one member of that cast.

Speaking with Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard on Wednesday, Andi Meyer described "Vietgone" as a “sex comedy” about how playwright Qui Nguyen’s parents met at an Arkansas refugee camp.

Meyer said the Unicorn’s artistic director, Cynthia Levin, had been thinking about featuring an all-Asian-American cast for several years.

Segment 1: A school secretary is helping immigrants make plans in case of deportation.

For undocumented parents with kids who are U.S. citizens, the risk of having your family separated by deportation is real. Meet the elementary school employee who has stepped into the lives of kids whose parents could be deported.

 

Jacqee Gafford / Facebook

The widows may have bonded so strongly because their husbands had been murdered within five years of each other. Or perhaps they were drawn together by the weight of tending to their husbands’ legacies.

Whatever speculation yields, only Coretta Scott King, Myrlie Evers and Betty Shabazz knew why they became and remained friends long after their children were grown.

Updated May 8 at 8:30 a.m. with new recommendations —

Some degrees slated to be dropped at the University of Missouri-St. Louis appear to have been saved.

UMSL administrators released final recommendations Monday on a restructuring effort designed to save the public institution money. The entire University of Missouri System is going through a similar process at the direction of President Mun Choi.

Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

A new theater troupe in Kansas City is staging monthly play readings in an unlikely venue: a bar.

That’s part of the Kansas City Public Theatre’s mission. The group hopes to make theater more accessible by offering free shows in non-traditional venues.

Segment 1: A new group wants to make theater accessible to everyone.

What if you could see a play for free in a non-traditional venue? Well, now you can. The Kansas City Public Theatre kicks off its first season this fall, but it's already staging some monthly readings at a local bar. We talk with its executive artistic director and a playwright, whose work will be performed on Monday.

Khalif Ghillet

An emerging Kansas City director's travels in South America are influencing theater productions in Kansas City.

At the moment, that's most evident in the current production by the University of Missouri-Kansas City's graduate theater department. "The Storytelling Project," which runs through Sunday, mixes Andean mythology with the actors' personal stories.

Segment 1: Meet Aaron Rahsaan Thomas.

He's a screenwriter and producer who is originally from KCK. Last week, he was in a photo of black creatives in Hollywood that went viral. Hear his story — and how that photo changed how some people see race in the industry.

  • Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, Executive Producer of "S.W.A.T." on CBS

Segment 2, beginning at 17:56: Mosquito experts swarm KC.

Heidi Van

Kansas City has a wide range of theater venues, from tiny spaces that seat only a couple dozen people to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. And now, two newcomers are opening another one.

On our First Friday arts show: a local artist has been keeping a dream journal for over 40 years. In his new exhibit, he's brought recurring objects from his dreams to life through sculpture. Then, we talk to the star of a one-woman show about fashion icon Diana Vreeland, and a band conductor on how his group keeps the Kansas City sound alive ... and how they're taking a step to address the gender imbalance in jazz.

Guests:

J. Robert Schraeder / Courtesy of The Coterie Theatre

Playwright Laurie Brooks has tackled challenging subjects for young adults — from the Salem witch trials to bullying. Her latest play, The Secret of Courage, explores a teenager facing a health crisis ... with a little help from a magical world.

pip-utton.co.uk

For frequent listeners of NPR, there's no mistaking Wade Goodwyn's voice. Today, we sit down with the Dallas-based reporter and discuss his decades of experience reporting on national issues with a story-telling perspective. Then, we meet Pip Utton, whose one-man shows feature important leaders you might have heard of.

We are hearing more stories of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. But these stories aren't new. How much has changed over time? Three women from three different generations share their perspectives from one industry.

Guests:

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