‘Bang’ tells story of accidental shooting death in Mexico


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One-person shows are common in the Fringe Festival and oh-so-challenging for an artist to stand alone on a stage, remembering and acting an hour of dialogue complete with movement on the stage and with only a few props; but in “Bang,” Alisa Lynn does that while commanding the stage.

Lynn, a Kansas City artist with a strong resume and mounting list of accomplishments takes the stage in the Loretto Auditorium to present “Bang” the story of Joan Vollmer who died at the hands of noted poet/writer William Burroughs. This story, written by Dan Born, a Lawrence, Kansas playwright tells the story of Vollmer and her roller-coaster affair with Burroughs and his compadres.

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“Bang is the story Joan Vollmer, known to history, if at all, as the woman shot by William Burroughs. In this one-woman show, written by Dan Born and originally staged by KC Public Theatre, she finally emerges from the shadows. She recounts the events of her life, from her pivotal role in the foundation of the Beats to farming weed in Texas, to fleeing one step ahead of the law to Mexico City and the last fateful chapter.” (KC Fringe)

Author Born says that the play is based on materials he could verify with some poetic license to enhance the story. But that “Bang” mostly hopes to tell the story of a young woman whose voice was silenced by a mortal accident while in Mexico City. While being a William Tellish target with an apple (or glass) on her head. Burroughs (drunk at the time) missed the target and the bullet struck Vollmer.

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Lynn recounts the story of the final minutes and thoughts of Vollmer as she dies as a result of the gunshot to the head. In the piece, Lynn uses her skills wisely to act through the piece and take you inside the head of the victim. The story is like a life flashing before one in their final minutes. She tells of her past brushes with Bellview mental hospital, her sexual expectations, her attitude toward sex, her encounters with gay men, her acquaintance with other famous Beat writers and poets.

“Bang” presents quite a huge story for a mostly unknown person who left behind only a few writings. Lynn’s talent drives the piece. It’s quick moving and touching. “Bang” includes lots of history on drug and alcohol usage and skirmishes with mental health. The story is not appropriate for children.

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The play continues at Loretto Auditorium and is well worth the time, especially if you know the writings of Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg. For those not familiar with the Beats, the show is still a good Fringe selection to see.

Tags: “Bang” review, KC Fringe Festival, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Loretto Auditorium


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