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plays

Unicorn Theatre

Sarah Bernhardt was known for her eccentricities. She slept in a coffin, she kept a pet lion and attracted lovers everywhere she went.

Bernhardt made five visits to Kansas City between 1887 and 1918, during nine American tours. Her 1906 performance at Convention Hall reportedly broke a world record, selling more than 6,000 seats for the world’s largest indoor audience of “legitimate theater.”

Segment 1: The author of "One by One" shares his battle with opioid addiction.

Nicholas Bush found himself hiding from police for crimes related to his to an opioid addiction. After 10 years of drug abuse and the loss of two siblings, Bush was finally able to kick his habit after a dream involving his deceased sister.

Seg. 1: Logan Black | Seg. 2: Oregon Trail

Apr 24, 2019

Segment 1: Logan Black.

We visit with a veteran, actor, and playwright about his latest play, Bond, a story about his service in Iraq with Diego, his bomb-sniffing dog. 

Segment 1: Why a Midwesterner is leading the charge to save manatees.

To a native Kansas Citian, a sea animal like the manatee might as well be something mythical like a unicorn or a chupacabra. In this conversation, we learn how a nature lover from Independence wound up leading an organization that helped take the beloved sea cow off the endangered list.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Last year may have marked the beginning of a cultural shift for how people approach faith and politics . 

The passing of Rev. Billy Graham, the Pennsylvania priest sexual abuse scandal and the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh are examples of the top religion stories of the past year. Two members of the Religion Newswriters Association explained why these and others made the association's  list. 

Segment 1: A bookstore stage for a literary legend.

Tru is a one-man production about writer Truman Capote's lonely Christmas in 1975.  We speak with the actor about preparing for the role and what he has learned about Capote's character. The play is on at Prospero's Books until December 30th.

Robert Paisley

Plenty of people don’t think twice before binging on episodes of a favorite TV show or series of movies. Would that crowd consider watching live theater the same way?

“You know how when you binge-watch ‘Lord of the Rings?’” asks Karen Paisley, artistic director of the Metropolitan Ensemble Theater. “This is sort of like binge-watch theater.”

Paisley has taken on a production of Horton Foote’s massive “The Orphans’ Home Cycle,” only the second time it’s been produced anywhere. To watch the entire cycle, a theater-goer will commit to watching three three-hour performances.

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?

Jerry Jay Cranford

A couple of weeks before opening night of the hit Broadway musical "Newsies," two dozen young actors were flipping and twirling on stage at the Jewish Community Center’s White Theater. They ranged in age from 14 to 22.

Brian Collins

Kansas City's annual summer ritual, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, is upon us. This year's production is the comedy “Much Ado About Nothing.” 

This also means it's time for another annual ritual at KCUR: tracking down Geraldo U. Sousa, a professor of English at the University of Kansas, who has written several books on Shakespeare.

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.

Karen Almond / KC Rep/Facebook

In his new play, Nathan Louis Jackson draws on his own life to tackle the issue of gun violence.

Brother Toad” tells the story of two men who are related but going down different paths.

“Each path ends with the decision of ‘how do I protect myself and the ones I love?’” Jackson told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Segment 1: A new play about gun violence in Kansas.

Nathan Louis Jackson's new play, "Brother Toad," is set in Wyandotte County and Johnson County. It's about two men who are going down different paths when it comes to protecting their families. Hear more about the play and about Jackson's changing views on guns.

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.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Criminal charges in Schlitterbahn death come amid push for tighter regulations on Kansas amusement parks.

Last week, three Schlitterbahn employees were indicted on criminal charges related to a boy's death in 2016 at the Kansas City, Kansas, water park. Today, we discussed the merits of cases, and found out how state law is evolving in response to the incident.

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.

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.

Courtesy of Unicorn Theatre

Playwright Karen Hartman knew her work "Project Dawn" dealt with intense material. Its story, about women with multiple prostitution convictions who are going through a treatment program in hopes of having their charges erased, is based on a real place in Philadelphia called Project Dawn Court.

Courtesy Tina Packer

Although he wrote one of the greatest romances of all time, William Shakespeare isn’t generally known as a sexy playwright. But a Shakespeare expert plans to explore that side of him in Kansas City this week.

“I’m going to talk on sex. I think it promises to be fun,” says Tina Packer, who speaks of his work in a way that leaves little doubt she’d crown him “most sensual writer to have ever lived” if given the chance.

Since the 1970s, Packer has directed all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays (excluding a few she is certain he did not write).

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Victor Raider-Wexler, a venerable actor with a voice as deep as magma, has never performed as a woman before. 

“It’s a brand new thing," he says of his role in Spinning Tree Theatre's newest production. "But last Christmas I was Marley, and I’d never been a ghost before either.”

Playwright August Wilson wrote a series of ten plays, one for each decade of the 20th century, that examines the black experience in America.

Mike Tsai / Kansas City Actors Theatre

It was a year ago when the Kansas City Actors Theatre decided to produce Sam Shepard's play “A Lie of the Mind” this season. When Shepard died in July, company members were shocked at first, but then their feelings evolved.

Meet the creative forces behind some of the exciting art stuff going on in September. We talk to the director of a play where ten manly explorers are played by women. Then, the dance troupe that choreographs shows off the sides of buildings. Finally, a KC musician who activates local dance floors and local politics.

Guests:

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