KC Rep announces world premiere new works


Press release posted by Bob Evans

FRIDA…A Self Portrait and UNRELIABLE Slated For Mainstage
in Rotating Repertory, April 19 – May 19

Kansas City Repertory Theatre wraps up its 2018/19 season with the fourth annual OriginKC: NEW WORKS FESTIVAL, April 19 through May 19, 2019. The OriginKC: NEW WORKS FESTIVAL positions Kansas City as a major player and national center for the cultivation 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.

The New Works Festival is a month-long celebration featuring two fully-produced productions, two staged readings, and the New Works Launch Weekend of activities, featuring workshops, parties, and other ancillary events. This year’s Festival, produced by KCRep, is curated by Interim Director of New Works, Lisa Rothe and Assistant Artistic Director Kim Martin-Cotten.

This year’s New Works Festival mainstage productions are FRIDA…A Self-Portrait by Vanessa Severo, KCRep’s 2018 Fox Fellowship Resident Actor, and UNRELIABLE by Dipika Guha. Joanie Schultz is on board to direct FRIDA. Ailin Conant will direct UNRELIABLE.

FRIDA is an exhilarating journey into the world of artist Frida Kahlo’s passionate, tumultuous life. Severo brings a breathtaking immediacy to the portrait of this raw, luminary artist in this one-woman show. UNRELIABLE tells the story of Gretchen, a lawyer who represents terrorist suspects. Or does she? Guha, currently under commission at Manhattan Theatre Club and South Coast Rep, takes us on a wild ride with this funny, moving absurdist play that keeps the audience guessing until the end.

VANESSA SEVERO is thrilled to have Frida…A Self Portrait further developed, enriched and nurtured here at KCRep. Frida …A Self Portrait was previously produced at Kansas City’s Living Room Theatre in 2014, directed by Katie Kalahurka. Severo’s work as a playwright also includes Advice from A Spider. Ms. Severo’s acting credits include those at KCRep: Sex with Strangers, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, August: Osage County, Cabaret, Roof of The World, Lot’s Wife, A Christmas Story: The Musical, A Christmas Carol, and dozens of other local credits. Ms. Severo and Kansas City Repertory Theatre were participants in the 2017, 11th round of Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships, funded by the William & Eva Fox Foundation and administered by Theater Communications Group.

Severo looks forward to the process, explaining, “It’s thrilling to work with an organization that believes that new work is the heart and soul of theatre. If theatre is to thrive and create meaningful and new experiences for audiences, then it is vital to support playwrights and their visions of the world we live in. OriginKC: New Works Festival is doing just that.”

DIPIKA GUHA was born in Calcutta and raised in South India, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Her plays include Yoga Play (South Coast Rep, Moxie Theatre & SF Playhouse) and The Art of Gaman (Theatre 503 London, Relentless Award semifinalist). Recent works include Azaan, a play for Oregon Symphony Orchestra, In Braunau for Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, contributions to You Across From Me (Humana, Actors Theatre of Louisville) and Elizabeth for the McCarter Theatre’s Princeton and Slavery Project. She was a Hodder Fellow at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, the inaugural Shakespeare’s Sister Playwriting Fellow with the Lark Play Development Center, A Room of Her Own and Hedgebrook and is a current Venturous Fellow for her play Passing. Guha has also written for the television shows American Gods, Paradise Lost, and Sneaky Pete.

Now entering its fourth season, the OriginKC: New Works Festival, curated and produced by KCRep, originally began under the leadership of former Associate Artistic Director/Director of New Works Marissa Wolf and former Artistic Director Eric Rosen. Now under the direction of Interim Artistic Director Jason Chanos and Assistant Artistic Director Kim Martin-Cotten, this year’s Festival will be curated by newly-hired interim Director of New Works Lisa Rothe.

Chanos sings Rothe’s praises, “We feel extraordinarily lucky that Lisa Rothe has joined the KCRep team this season. She is an accomplished director, distinguished educator, and wonderful collaborator who has dedicated her career to developing and championing new voices in theatre. I am excited to share her vision with both our loyal local patrons as well as new works colleagues nationwide.”

LISA ROTHE is a freelance theatre director and educator. She was the Director of Global Exchange at The Lark for over five years, providing expanded opportunities for playwrights, aimed at advancing new plays to production, both nationally and globally. Her most recent directing work has been seen at Indiana Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, Virginia Repertory Theatre, Irish Repertory, and TheatreWorks, and her award-winning production of Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata, starring Joel de la Fuente, has toured all over the country.

Lisa is a co-Artistic Director of The Actor’s Center in NYC, a recent co-President of the League of Professional Theatre Women, a Usual Suspect with New York Theatre Workshop, a member of the National Theater Conference, an Artistic Affiliate and former Audrey Fellow with New Georges, a former Fox Fellow, a Drama League alum, and director of over 30 productions at acting training programs around the country, including NYU Graduate Acting, Yale School of Drama and The Juilliard School.

Rothe explains, “As a champion of playwrights and new work, it is an honor to present this inspiring line-up of bold and vital new plays, build upon the dynamic history of new works programming at KC Rep, and radically support the mission of OriginKC: New Works Festival to promote and forward Kansas City as a major national center for the development and production of new work.”

As part of the 2019 NEW WORKS LAUNCH WEEKEND, May 3 – 5, two additional plays are selected for readings. First up on Friday, May 3 at 11 am, KCRep’s Associate Artistic Director from 2008-2014, Kyle Hatley, brings his new work, FRANKENSTEIN to Kansas City. Later the same day, Stacey Rose’s LEGACY LAND will have its reading at 4:30 pm. Both staged readings are free and open to the public.

In Hatley’s FRANKENSTEIN, directed by Joanie Schultz, a storyteller and a live musician unravel Mary Shelley’s iconic 200-year-old science fiction tale as a haunting and heartbreaking cautionary tale like none other. That this tale is as important today as it was then, speaks to the human condition. Hatley explores real pain, real loneliness, and the real confusion we face over what it means to be alive.

Logan Vaughn is slated to direct LEGACY LAND, the story of Barbara, a recluse who is hunkered down for an intimate weekend with her younger lover during a Thanksgiving weekend blizzard. When Barbara’s estranged sister unexpectedly arrives with her fiancé, the reason for the visit is slowly revealed, and the sisters are forced to grapple with the painful legacy of their dysfunctional family.

The OriginKC: NEW WORKS FESTIVAL is made possible with support from the Copaken Family Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, H&R Block, and the City of Kansas City, MO Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund. KCRep is underwritten in part by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, whose gift is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Performances for FRIDA…A Self-Portrait and UNRELIABLE begin Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20 respectively and run in repertory through Sunday, May 19 at Copaken Stage. Press nights are scheduled for Friday, May 3 for FRIDA and Saturday, May 4 for UNRELIABLE. Both shows will begin at 8 pm. All events will be held at Copaken Stage, KCRep’s second stage, 13th & Walnut Streets, in the heart of Kansas City’s Power & Light District. Free parking is located in the H&R Block parking lot directly beneath the building.

Tickets start at $35 and may be purchased at http://originkc.kcrep.org/ or by calling 816-235-2700. Groups of nine or more may call Andrew at 816-235-6122 for discounted pricing.

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