Forge Theatre Company announces premiere season


Press Release posted by Bob Evans



 Kansas City theatrical artists Elaine Clifford, Coleman Crenshaw, Ryan Fortney, Todd Lanker, and Bailey Rose are excited to announce the formation of Forge Repertory Theatre a new theatre company dedicated to creating and revitalizing work through collaborative storytelling by partnering emerging artists with established KC talent.

The board of directors have laid out the following mission for Forge Repertory Theatre:

A professional community of artists creating and revitalizing work through collaborative storytelling.

We are committed to:

  • building theatrical sustainability through a repertory approach
  • breathing life into stories of all shapes and sizes
  • igniting conversations which value diverse perspectives and experiences
  • fostering a welcoming environment that is accessible to all

Forge Repertory Theatre will bring light to new perspectives, pair established talent with emerging artists to inspire growth, and create theatre that reflects our diverse city. Emerging Artists will be considered both for specific shows and the seasonal repertory company. The repertory company will be made up of actors performing in each show of the season alongside established KC artists.

The inaugural season will feature three diverse plays, kicking-off this December with Eric Overmyer’s On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning a witty, heart-filled, and hysterical tale of three Victorian female explorers who find themselves in Terra Incognito, an unchartered land where they mysteriously start to travel through time. On the Verge will be followed in March by Mary Zimmerman’s The Secret in the Wings a magical fugue into story, identity, and the nature of otherness. The season will close with John Steinbeck’s timeless masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath adapted by Frank Galati. In this Tony Award winning play, Galati effortlessly captures the beauty and tragedy of Steinbeck’s original novel and doubles down on the heart and fear portrayed in the 1940 classic film. Full show descriptions are available at The Secret in the Wings will be directed by Todd Lanker; Ryan Fortney will be directing both On the Verge and The Grapes of Wrath. All shows will be performed at the The Blackbox Theatre at Fishtank. Auditions will be announced shortly.

Coleman Crenshaw and Todd Lanker will serve as co-artistic directors:

What Forge Rep brings to KC is something unique: a place to incubate young artists and artists that haven’t necessarily had opportunities… we’re keeping an eye on telling stories of all shapes and sizes, and telling stories both of and with diversity and inclusivity.   -Todd Lanker

We want it to be accessible to everyone, that includes artist, but also from an audience perspective. The stories of the community are important to us, so we want to find those stories that have been overlooked.  -Coleman Crenshaw

Forge Repertory Theatre is a pending 501c3 nonprofit funded by the generosity of its fans.

Nitty Gritty:

 Founding Board of Directors

Forge Theatre Company
  • Elaine Clifford – Director of Communication – Actress, Teaching Artist – She/Her/Hers
  • Coleman Crenshaw – Co-Artisitc Director -Actor, Director, Teaching Artist – He/Him/His
  • Ryan Fortney – Director of Business & Marketing – Director, Actor, Marketing Specialist – He/Him/His
  • Todd Lanker – Co-Artistic Director – Actor (AEA), Director, Teaching Artist – He/Him/His
  • Bailey Rose – Executive Director of Business & Development – Director, Actress, Teaching Artist – She/Her/Hers

Contact Info

 Business Phone Number – 816.237.0127

Box Office Phone Number – 816. 226.7154

Email – Website –


 Facebook – Forge Repertory Theatre

Instagram – @ForgeRepKC

Hashtag – #ForgeRepKC #pressforward Tagline – press forward

Season Dates

 On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning – December 2019
The Secret in the Wings by Marry Zimmerman – March 2020
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath by Frank Galati – May 2020

Founding Board of Directors Bios


Forge Theatre Company

ELAINE CLIFFORD, Director of Communication – Elaine Clifford came into the theatre scene comparatively “late” in the game, first setting foot on stage during her junior year of high school. After that initial discovery, she has proceeded to throw herself headlong into the fray and dedicate her life to the arts and to telling stories of all kinds through a medium which is timeless and intimately human. She attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Performance and Dance. Shortly thereafter, she moved down to Kansas City to pursue her career and quickly fell in love with the city’s vibrant culture. Elaine has had the privilege of performing on various stages in the KC area with several amazing companies. She also shares her love of theatre through her job as a teaching artist with The Culture House Academy of Performing Arts. When not on stage or teaching, Elaine loves traveling, baking goodies in true Mrs. Claus fashion, and chilling with her incredible husband and rambunctious pupper.

Forge Theatre Company

COLEMAN CRENSHAW, Co-Artistic Director – Coleman Crenshaw is passionate about creating community engagement through the theatre arts. He completed his MFA in Performance and Society from Rhode Island College and has been an active part of the Kansas City Theatre community since he relocated from the east coast 10 years ago. While mainly an actor, having performed extensively in the US and the UK for the last 20 years, he is also a teaching artist and director. He helped develop a performance ethnography program called The Oral History Project: I Was There, Faces of Fox Point, that was recognized by the NCPH and is now used as a state-wide model in Rhode Island. As a teaching artist he has worked with a variety of students both at the collegiate level (SBU and JCCC most recently) and as an independent artist creating new programming in high schools and elementary schools. He specializes in pre-K to 2nd grade playwright training through a program of his design called Interactive Storytelling. His performance and directing expertise spans a great number of styles, from Stanislavskian realism to Grotowskian physicality, from classical to Avant Garde solo performance. His aim is to develop lasting and powerful communities of artists dedicated to inspiring social change. Theatre is, at its heart, a well-told story, powerful in its immediacy and limitless in its capacity to impart knowledge and inspire action; and Forge Rep desires to make that story accessible to all. He has two dogs, one girlfriend, and a handful of nickels. He is content.

Forge Theatre Company

RYAN FORTNEY, Director of Business & Marketing – Ryan Fortney is a director, actor, and a life-long lover of Kansas City. Born and raised in KC, Ryan has only stepped away from the metro area once, when he got his masters in directing from the University of South Dakota. Before USD, Ryan received his BFA in performance from the University of Central Missouri. He has also been recognized on a national level by the Kennedy Center for his directorial achievements. Ryan has directed over two dozen productions and acted in just as many. He has worked professionally from KC to South Dakota to NYC. His style of directing reflects his personal philosophy: always strive for happiness, always fight for love. His work is guided by this belief and therefore he endlessly searches for the humor and heart in any show he is lucky to work on. His first loves are his beautiful nieces and nephews, but KC comes in a close second, “I am so excited to bring Todd, Bailey, Coleman, Elaine, and my vision for the Forge Repertory Theatre to the KC metro. I love this company and I love this city.”

Forge Theatre Company

TODD LANKER, Co-Artistic Director – Todd Lanker is a director, actor, and teacher. He was trained at WORKOUT (the physical theatre ensemble of Wheaton College), the Michael Howard Studio NYC, the

Actor’s Gang Theatre LA, and the Master of Fine Arts program at UMKC. Todd has served as the Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Shed, a theatrical collaboration with Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles and as Associate Artistic Director of METropolitan Ensemble Theatre. In addition to teaching at MET, UMKC, Kansas City Kansas Community College and California Lutheran University, he has maintained an active career as a regional actor and director. His work has been guided by a passion for reinvesting in  known stories to uncover or rediscover the human truth obscured by familiarity. Todd is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Forge Theatre Company

BAILEY ROSE, Executive Director of Business & Development – Bailey Rose discovered the magic of live theatre when she was 11 years old and she has never looked back. Passionate about using theatre as an agent of change and a catalyst for greater dialogue she chose to continue her education in the arts and is a graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, holding degrees in Theatre and Business. Bailey moved to Kansas City three years ago and has fallen head over heels in love with this city. She has performed onstage with multiple companies in KC and has lent her talents behind the scenes, focusing on business development. Bailey believes that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the magic of live theatre and as a teaching artist she has worked with a variety of students from pre-K to the collegiate level to help broaden that exposure. Theatre is magical; sitting in a dark room, elbow to elbow with a stranger, there is this elusive energy between audience and performer, the community forged together, and the momentary collaboration necessitated by the magic of what happens onstage. We are here to ensure that every person has the opportunity to share in the magic. When she isn’t at the theatre, Bailey loves spending time with her fur babies, eating pizza, playing games, and embracing life’s adventures with her wonderful husband.

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