Melting Pot names new Artistic Director


Press Release posted by Bob Evans

Harvey Williams, Founder and Executive Director of KC Melting Pot Theatre (KCMPT) in Kansas City announced that Dr. Nicole Hodges Persley has been appointed as Artistic Director. After three years as Associate Artistic Director, Hodges Persley has helped to position KCMPT as a theater company to watch in the Kansas City regional theater landscape. Under her creative influence, the company has produced timely and thought-provoking shows such as the revivals of Angelina W. Grimke’s 1916 anti-lynching play Rachel and Amiri Baraka’s 1964 Obie award-winning play Dutchman as well as cutting edge new American voices such as Pulitzer Prize winner Dominique Morriseau and emerging playwright Lewis J. Morrow.  Hodges Persley draws season inspiration from an eclectic array of sources from historic social and arts movements to #Black Lives Matter and African American music genres.

“Nicole has made quite an impression on the KCMPT family and community. We did not need to have a search process because her artistic vision is leading us to develop new audiences by giving them diverse representations of American theater that speak to multiple generations,” said Williams. “KCMPT is one of the cornerstones of community outreach and artistic opportunity for artists of color in Kansas City. Nicole brings a dynamic personality, knowledge of African American history and clear vision that can help us incubate emerging artists of color. The Board of KCMPT is excited to have her at the artistic helm because she dreams big. Under her artistic vision, we are now bringing revivals and new works to our audiences adding to our vision to develop the voices of Kansas City’s playwrights of color.”

“I am honored to accept the Artistic Director position at KCMPT,” said Hodges Persley “I feel the performers and production team at KCMPT are some of the best in the city. We are the ‘little train that could’ and we just keep on going and growing each year. I look forward to leading the artistic vision of this extraordinary collective as we forge new models of sustainability that highlight the importance of theater as a space to reimagine a more inclusive American theater narrative. We have so many artists that want to be seen and heard. At KCMPT, we showcase voices and stories by artist of color that need to be heard by everyone. All of our lives depend on it.”

“The promotion of Nicole Hodges Persley to Artistic Director at KC Melting Pot Theatre is good news,” said Susan Kysela, Board Member, KCMPT. “As Associate Artistic Director over the last three years, she brings a high level of professional experience to everything she has a hand in. She’s hardworking and dedicated to the success of this theater. This is a welcome development.”

About Nicole Hodges Persley
Nicole Hodges Persley is an award-winning Associate Professor of Theatre and the Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Kansas. An artist-scholar, Hodges Persley creates intentional bridges between the entertainment industry and academia. Hodges Persley has served as the Associate Artistic Director of KCMPT from 2015 to 2018. She was the founder and former Co-Artistic Director of Mountaintop Players in Los Angeles from 1997-2000 which produced Emmy winner Stephen Mc Feelys’ Now Leaving Gate 20. Her directing credits span venues on both coasts including Highways Performance space, The Complex and The Hudson Theatre and PS. 122. She founded the ‘Rep and Rev’ Play Reading series which she co-produced with Glenn North at The Gem Theater in partnership with the Kansas City Jazz Museum. Her notable directing credits in Kansas City include critically acclaimed productions of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, Dominique Morriseau’s Sunset Baby, Kristoffer Diaz’s Welcome to Arroyo’s, Amiri Baraka’sDutchman and Angelina W. Grimke’s Rachel. Hodges Persley is a specialist in African American theater and performance and has published articles and book chapters on Hip-Hop culture, African and African American theater, Black popular culture, and sampling in American Theatre magazine, Theatre Journal,Theatre Topics, Palimpsest, and Stage Director and Choreographers Journal. Her forthcoming book, Sampling and Remixing Blackness in Hip Hop Performance explores the influence of Hip-hop and African American culture on the artistic practices of performing artists in the United States and England. She is a member of SAG/AFTRA, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and National Theatre Conference board member.

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