OriginKC: New Works Festival at KCRep Boasts TWO World Premieres


Photo by Cory Weaver

Kansas City Repertory Theatre wraps up its 2016-2017 season with its OriginKC: NEW WORKS FESTIVAL.  In just its second season, the OriginKC: NEW WORKS FESTIVAL positions Kansas City as a major national center for the development and production of new works, while offering theatre artists from across the country the financial, creative and artistic resources required to develop vital, diverse works of theatre.  Kansas City audiences have the unique opportunity to engage with the process of creating theater while giving emerging and established writers the resources to develop plays for future seasons at KCRep and beyond.

Calvin (Christopher Reed Brown) and Journey (Rosanne Supernault), get some troubling news from Rebel (Jason Chanos) and Evan (Amy Attaway). Photo by Cory Weaver

KCRep is proud to produce the WORLD PREMIERE of a new play, What Would Crazy Horse Do? by preeminent Native American writer Larissa FastHorse. Twin siblings, the last members of their tribe, have just lost their grandfather when the KKK comes knocking with hopes of forming an alliance to ensure the continuation of their race.  A chilling look at the notion of racial purity, this story reveals the challenges contemporary Native Americans face when fighting extinction in a world that seems to have already forgotten they exist.  The siblings attempt to find their voices in the outside world while preserving the heritage that is now theirs alone to carry forward.

An award-winning playwright, director, choreographer and performer, Larissa FastHorse grew up in South Dakota.  She was awarded the NEA Distinguished New Play Development Grant, Joe Dowling Annamaghkerrig Fellowship, AATE Distinguished Play Award, Inge Residency, Sundance/Ford Foundation Fellowship, Aurand Harris Fellowship, and numerous Ford and NEA Grants.  Larissa’s produced plays include Urban Rez, Landless, Average Family, Teaching Disco Squaredancing to Our Elders: a Class Presentation, The Thanksgiving Play, and Cherokee Family Reunion.  She has written commissions for Cornerstone Theatre Company, Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, AlterTheater, Kennedy Center TYA, Native Voices at the Autry, Artist’s Rep and Mountainside Theatre.  She developed plays with Kansas City Rep, Artist’s Rep in Portland, Arizona Theater Company, the Center Theatre Group Writer’s Workshop and Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor.  She is a current member of the Playwright’s Union, Director’s Lab West 2015, Theatre Communications Group board of directors and is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Lakota Nation.

“I have been working on this play a long time. I had hoped it would get produced sooner, but now that I’m in Kansas City with all of the incredible staff, amazing OriginKC festival artists and the great audience here, I know this is the perfect place and time to doing the world premiere of this play,” said FastHorse.

“What Would Crazy Horse Do? can be pretty intense at times, but my goal is to shift the ground underneath the audience and allow them to see the world from a completely foreign point of view,” mused FastHorse.   “My hope is that the play doesn’t end when the lights come up.  I want people to talk about the ideas of the play in the lobby and on the ride home.  I want people to engage with each other and think.  Then I’ve done my job as a dramatist.”


Paul Pere Jr. (Rufus Burns) reads the newspaper above his latest victim. Photo by Cory Weaver

The WORLD PREMIERE of Man in Love is set in a segregated Depression-era city where rent parties rage above while men hungry for work and love roam the streets. A string of murders occurs but no one suspects the killer is the quiet, charming librarian, Paul Pare, Jr. Reactions vary across the city, and as we watch the word spread from person to person, we wonder if the killer’s violence will extend to those closest to him. Written by Kansas City native Christina Anderson, the story examines a world where both criminal and victims get lost in the crowd.

Christina Anderson’s work has appeared at The Contemporary American Theater Festival, Penumbra, Yale Rep, A.C.T., The Public Theater, Crowded Fire, and other theaters all over the country. American Theater Magazine selected Anderson as one of the fifteen up-and-coming artists “whose work will be transforming America’s stages for decades to come. Awards and honors include 2015/16 Aetna New Voices Fellow (Hartford Stage), 2011/12 Playwright-in-Residence at Magic Theater (National New Play Network), two PONY nominations, 2011 Woursell Prize Finalist (University of Vienna), three Susan Smith Blackburn nominations, Christina obtained her B.A. from Brown University and an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama’s Playwriting Program. She’s an Assistant Professor of Playwriting at SUNY-Purchase College.

“Anderson’s muscular, rhythmic language, and imaginative theatricality creates a fierce world of love and hostility in this roiling cityscape,” Director of New Works, Marissa Wolf, says. “The chilling story leaves us on the edge of our seats.”

Also of note, is the UMKC Department of Theatre student workshop production of Antony and Cleopatra, which has Playwright Christopher Chen breathing new life into the classic tragedy by William Shakespeare as commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Play On! program in which playwrights translate the Bard into contemporary English. Although this harrowing love affair has been told for centuries, Christopher Chen’s translation will shed new light on a production that is chillingly resonant and alive.

“I am extremely excited to be part of Kansas City Repertory Theater’s New Works Festival with a brand-new adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra, based on my Play On! translation of the play. It was an absolute joy collaborating with the University of Missouri’s amazing acting program to conceive of a decidedly modern, rollicking and also very intimate new take on Shakespeare’s classic,” said Chen.

The OriginKC: NEW WORKS FESTIVAL is made possible with support from the Copaken Family Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund and other generous donors.

Performances for What Would Crazy Horse Do? and Man in Love begin Friday, April 28 and Saturday April 29th respectively and run through Sunday, May 28 at Copaken Stage. Also of note is that on May 7th there will be a 2pm public performance of WWCHD at 2pm and then a public performance of MIL at 7pm, allowing patrons to catch both shows that day with a dinner break in between.

Antony and Cleopatra performances begin Friday, May 5 and run through Sunday May 14 at Spencer Theatre on the UMKC campus. Press night for this production is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10 at 7:00 pm.  Antony and Cleopatra is a production of the UMKC Department of Theatre in partnership with Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

In addition to a striking lineup of World Premieres for this year’s festival, an impressive list of arts leaders from preeminent regional theaters across the country will be attending the Festival Weekend, May 12-13.  Festival Weekend offers a robust line-up of free events including staged readings by acclaimed playwrights Kara Lee Corthron, Ricardo Khan, and KCRep’s Playwright in Residence Nathan Louis Jackson, in addition to deep dive panel discussions with leaders in the field, as well as lunches and parties.

“We’re excited to attract major national players to Kansas City for our Festival Weekend, forwarding KCRep as the heart of a great theater city,” says Artistic Director Eric Rosen.

“Festival Weekend is filled with an electrifying buzz as we listen to new plays read out loud, and engage in vital conversations about theater making,” says Director of New Works, Marissa Wolf. “Panel conversations will include topics around the philosophy and opportunities within the development and production of new work, as well as playwright-centered roundtable discussions.”

Check the website for an up to date schedule of events. Tickets for all three plays may be purchased at http://originkc.kcrep.org, or by calling the Box Office at 816-235-2700. For group ticket sales, please call Rick Duplissie at 816-235-6122.