‘Nomad Motel’ to open at Unicorn


Hidden Homelessness & Hope

Nomad Motel

By Carla Ching

Co-directed by Andi Meyer and Ian R. Crawford

A Rolling World Premiere*


On the not-so-sunny side of California, teenage Alix bounces between motel rooms while taking care of her brothers for her absent mother. Her classmate, Mason, is a budding songwriter sent to America for high school by his father in Hong Kong. Together, they must learn to scrape by without giving up their dreams. This ­Rolling World Premiere is a coming-of-age tale about motel kids and parachute kids making something out of nothing in the land of plenty.

*The playwright is involved in three separate “world premiere” productions of a new work sponsored by the National New Play Network. This production is produced by Unicorn Theatre, City Theatre (Pennsylvania), and Horizon Theatre (Georgia).

 “A thought-provoking work inspired by the beautiful struggles of Parachute Kids and Motel Kids.”

–         Laura Blatterman, BroadwayWorld

“A story of possibility, strength and hope.”

–          Bill O’Driscoll, Pittsburgh NPR

Nomad Motel will be co-directed by Andi Meyer and Associate Artistic Director Ian R. Crawford. The cast features the talents of Eric Palmquist, Walter Coppage, Heidi Van, Annie Schwaner, and Justin Barron. The production team includes Tanya Brown (stage manager), Emily Swenson (scenic designer and co-projections designer), Victor En Yu Tan (lighting designer), Greg Mackender (music coordinator and co-projections designer), Zach Pierson (sound designer), Sarah Oliver (costumer designer), Paula Pearson (props designer), Zoe Spangler (assistant lighting designer), Chloe Robbins (production assistant) and Chioma Anyanwu (sound board operator).

Nomad Motel is on Unicorn Theatre’s Jerome Stage located at 3828 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111. The show runs January 23 to February 17, 2019. Previews are January 23, 24, and 25 2019. Opening Night is January 26, 2019. Performances run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. For those who are unable to afford a full price ticket, they may “Pay What U Can” at performances on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; because we believe art is for everyone.

Tickets are now on sale. Call 816-531-PLAY (7529) EXT. 10, go online at www.UnicornTheatre.org or buy in person during box office hours located at 3828 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111. Special discounts are available for groups of 10+, seniors (65+) and students.

Special Events:

Drink-Backs are scheduled for January 31st and February 7th, 2019 after the production. Enjoy happy hour prices at the bar after these Thursday night shows. Grab a drink and chat with the actors & staff members for about the many issues explored.

About the Creative Team:

Cynthia Levin (PRODUCING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR) is in her 40th season with the Unicorn. Over the years she has served as a director, actor, designer or producer for over 300 productions.  At the Unicorn, she recently directed VietgoneChesapeakePriscilla Queen Of The Desert: The Musical (co-directed with Missy Koonce), Eclipsed, Hand to God, Heathers: The Musical (again, with Missy), The Oldest Boy, Women Playing Hamlet(world premiere), Bad Jews, Grounded, Venus in Fur, My Name is Asher Lev, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Soul Collector (world premiere), Hungry (world premiere), Red, Two Jews Walk Into A War…, Distracted, Green Whales (world premiere), Miss Witherspoon, My First Time, The Clean House, Mauritius, 9 Parts of Desire, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Bat Boy: The Musical and additionally the world premieres of rightnextto me (both at the Unicorn and Geva Theatre Center, Rochester, NY), How His Bride Came to Abraham, Light:Damage, Mercy Killing, Innocent Thoughtsand Jack and Jill. At Coterie Theatre, she has directed Number the Stars, And Then They Came for Me, Frankenstein, Gatherings in Graveyards (I and II), Valley Song and To Kill A Mockingbird. At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., she directed readings of Occupants, In The Belly Of The Whale, The Friendship Of Her Thighs, The Last Pair Of Earlies, Tigers Be Still and White Devil and Loving Mother for the MFA Playwright’s Workshop. Cynthia is a graduate of Park University which also awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in 2002. She is a founding board member of the National New Play Network, an organization dedicated to the development and production of new works. She has been honored with the Pinnacle Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award and most recently the Kathryn V. Lamkey Award from the Actors’ Equity Association for her ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity. She shares her home with Zia (the beagle), Dodger (the cat) and the spirit of the big red dog, Sylvia.

Andi Meyer (CO-DIRECTOR) is a Kansas City based actor, director, parent, and arts activist. She is thrilled to return to the Unicorn as a co-director of Kansas City’s first play by an Asian American woman. She is Producing Artistic Director of Tradewind Arts, a boutique arts organization focusing on illuminating, empowering, and motivating the voice of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  She is a board member with the Consortium of Asian American Theatres and Artists (CAATA) and sat on the steering committee for the 6th National Asian American Theatre Conference in August, 2018.  Andi was a 2017-18 Charlotte Street Studio Resident and first artist featured in their new Capsule performance series where she produced and directed #RepresentaionMatters / Changing the Narrative, a collection of short plays by writers of color from across the country. Her work has been recognized with support from ArtsKC, TCG, Dramatists Guild Fund, and the NEA ArtWorks grant through collaboration with The Coterie Theatre on Hana’s Suitcase. Andi has appeared in productions at The Unicorn Theatre, The New Theatre, The Coterie, The Kansas City Rep, Disney’s Spirit of Aloha, with voice and on-camera clients including Hallmark, H&R Block, Sprint, and McDonald’s.

Ian R. Crawford (CO-DIRECTOR) is proud to be Unicorn Theatre’s Associate Artistic Director. At the Unicorn, Ian has directed SweatHirApplication PendingThe Ghosts of Lote Bravo (world premiere) & Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Other favorite directing credits include The Importance of Being Earnest (for which he also designed the set, props, and costumes), Dada is Dead/Long Live DADA! (which he conceived and co-created for the KC Fringe Festival), The Baltimore WaltzLife of GalileoFar Away, and Quartett. At the Unicorn, Ian has designed costumes for ChesapeakeI’m Gonna Pray For You So HardApplication PendingThe Way We Get ByBuyer & CellarThe Oldest BoyBad Jews, and Water By The Spoonful, and the set for Chesapeake and Women Playing Hamlet. Ian directed staged readings of Good Bad PeopleReparationsThe House on the HillHow to Steal a PicassoWomen Playing Hamlet, and Barbecue Apocalypse for the Unicorn’s In-Progress New Play Reading Series. Unicorn Theatre’s production of The Ghosts of Lote Bravo, which Ian directed, was featured on the cover of American Theatre Magazine this past February. Ian is an alum of the La Mama Umbria Directors’ Symposium and a graduate of Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Thank you to his family and to his husband Vince for his constant love and support.

Eric Palmquist (MASON) couldn’t be happier to be back at the Unicorn. Last seen in Vietgone, recent credits include The Book Club Play (Kansas Rep), Hana’s Suitcase (Coterie), and Frankenstein (LAC). A graduate of the University of Kansas theatre program, he has performed with the Living Room, KC Fringe, Tradewind Arts, the Buffalo Room, and the MET.

Walter Coppage (JAMES) is pleased to return for his 18th production at the Unicorn. He’s performed at the Steppenwolf Theatre, Studio Theatre DC, St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre, KC Rep Theatre, KC Actors Theatre, Coterie Theatre and Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. Film credits include: All Creatures Here BelowIn The Wake  Of IreTheProfitJayhawkersDestination: Planet NegroThe Only Good IndianSuspensionLast Ounce of Courage. TV credits include: Detroiters (Guest Star – Comedy Central), Chicago Med (NBC), Gone In The Night (CBS), The Only Witness (Lifetime), All Roads Lead Home (Showtime), A Deadly Vision (ABC), Truman (HBO). Next up: Pride and Prejudice at KC Rep.

Heidi Van (FIONA) is back after directing The Wolves! Heidi previously appeared at the Unicorn in Hand to God, Next Fall, The Vibrator Play, and Bright Ideas. Other recent directing credits include My Fair Lady (Musical Theatre Heritage), Project Dawn (Unicorn Theatre), Belfast Girls (Fishtank Theatre) UPCOMING PROJECTS directing Mr. Popper’s Penguins, (The Coterie) and opening the Fishtank Theatre’s new location in the West Bottoms. Van is a Charlotte Street Generative Performing Artist Fellow and a proud recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation SEED Grant. The Fishtank & Heidi were recently featured in Open Spaces with their TIME Magazine recognized immersive theatre production of Elegy For A Lady by Arthur Miller.  Heidi is mother of two incredible ladies, Marianne (barely 7) and Pauline (too close to 5). Thank you Phili[, Mom and Dad. Find out more at www.fishtanktheatre.com

Annie Schwaner (ALIX) Annie is thrilled to be performing in her Unicorn debut! She is a ‘17 Benedictine College graduate, with a B.A. degree in Theatre Arts. Some of her favorite acting credits include Hodel (Fiddler on the Roof), Martirio (The House of Bernarda Alba), Chris (Rumors), and Teresa (Circle Mirror Transformation). You may have seen her recently in the MET’s performance of Horton Foote’s epic, The Orphans Home Cycle(Asa, Lily Dale, & Laura). She is overwhelmed by the kindness of the KC theatre community and feels blessed to work among such talented people.

Justin Barron (OSCAR) is grateful to be returning to the Unicorn once more. Previously seen in SweatInformed ConsentHow to Use a Knife, and The Ghosts of Lote Bravo. Past Credits: Local: Man in Love (KC Rep), Hamlet (Heart of America Shakespeare Festival), Sister Act (New Theatre Restaurant), A Charlie Brown ChristmasRudolph the Red-Nosed-Reindeer (Coterie), South PacificGuys and Dolls (Musical Theatre Heritage) Regional: Dirty Rotten ScoundrelsGuys and Dolls, Youth Audience Outreach Tours (Creede Repertory Theatre). Love to Deanna, Quinn, Ivy and Family! Proud Member of AEA.

Tanya Brown (STAGE MANAGER) has been working with the Unicorn for the past thirteen seasons. Some of her all-time favorites have been The Clean HouseVenus in FurHand to GodCockStupid F##king Bird, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical.

Emily Swenson (SCENIC DESIGNER/CO-PROJECTIONS DESIGNER) is production manager and resident designer at Unicorn Theatre. Recently at Unicorn, Emily scenic designed The Effect and Vietgone, lighting designed Sweat and Chesapeake, and assistant directed Disgraced. Emily is a playwright with Midwest Dramatists Center. Recently her play Cam Girl was produced by Theatre Oblivion in Philadelphia. You may have seen her play in KC Fringe: Walls Suck, which received Fringe Best in Venue.

Sarah M. Oliver (COSTUME DESIGNER) teaches costume technology for the M.F.A. Costume Design and Technology program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She has designed and built costumes overseas and in the United States for theatres coast to coast—from the Los Angeles Opera to the New York City Opera. She has built costumes for drama, film, dance, opera, and musical theatre productions for designers in South Africa, England, Spain, Hong Kong, Canada, China, and the Bahamas. Recent Kansas City costume design credits include Hir, How to Use a Knife, and How to Steal a Picasso (Unicorn Theatre), Sex with Strangers (KC Rep), Blithe Spirit, Skylight, Sea Marks, And Then There Were None, and My Old Lady (KCAT)Special thanks to Lillian Oliver for serving as a wonderful costume design assistant.

Victor En Yu Tan (LIGHTING DESIGNER) previously designed Vietgone and Bad Jewsfor the Unicorn.  Locally, he designed Vanya, Sonia, Marsha, & SpikeRomeo & JulietDeath of A SalesmanWhipping ManCarouselBorderland and Broke-ology, KC Repertory; and Black Pearl Sings!, Spinning Tree. Regionally he designed Satchel Paigeand the KC Swing!, Cincinnati Playhouse & St Louis Rep; I Sing the Rising Sea, Virginia Stage; The Ballad of Emmett Till, Goodman Theatre; Stickfly, McCarter Theatre, and many others. In NYC, he designed over 25 productions for the Public Theatre and over 40 for the Pan Asian Rep. He is Professor of Lighting Design at UMKC.

Zack Pierson (SOUND DESIGNER) is so excited to be back working for his second time with the Unicorn! Currently completing his final year of Graduate school at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Zack has been designing on stages both big and intimate for the last eight years. His recent work includes Letters From Freedom Summer, directed and co-written by Ricardo Khan and King Lear produced by the Kansas City Actors Theater, and The Wolves directed by Heidi Van. Special thanks to the cast, crew, and T.  www.zackpierson.com.

Paula Pearson (PROPERTIES DESIGNER) is happy to be back at the Unicorn for another show.   After 10 years as the Technical Director at Rockhurst University, she is enjoying many opportunities after retirement. Nomad Motel has made her stretch her artistic muscles and it felt good.  Thanks to everyone for making her feel welcome, in a place that holds many memories.

Greg Mackender (MUSIC COORDINATOR & CO-PROJECTIONS DESIGNER) is looking forward to the Unicorn’s 2019 production of Nomad Motel. In the past few years, he designed sound and composed for the Unicorn production of Grounded, and earlier composed music for their production of My Name is Asher Lev. In 2016, he wrote music for the HASF production of Twelfth Night, and joined pianist Bram Wijnands onstage in performing live with the company. The 2017 HASF summer production of Hamlet saw record audiences, and in 2018 composed the music for Much Ado About Nothing, marking his 33rd score for the festival. Greg is a professor in the theatre department at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where he has taught sound design and composition since 1994, and is a founding member of the Kansas City Actors Theatre.

Sarah Jean Hohne (DRAMATURG) is from Sedalia, MO where she was involved in her local theatre from a young age. Sarah Jean attended Missouri State University where she received her B.F.A. in Theatre Acting.  Working for multiple professional theatre companies as an actor and living in Chicago for three years has led Sarah Jean to the next step in her career.  She is currently working on her Masters in Theatre at UMKC. She is very excited to be collaborating with the Unicorn Theatre for the first time.

Chloé Robbins (PRODUCTION ASSISTANT) is excited to spend the rest of the season at the Unicorn! Previously at the Unicorn, she has worked on Informed ConsentProject DawnStupid F##king BirdMen on BoatsHow to Use a Knife, and Clybourne Park. She has also worked with The Coterie, KC Rep, Egads!, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, and The Fishtank Performance Studio. She has a black belt in tae kwon do and reads, writes, and draws in her “spare” time.

About the Playwright:

An LA native, Carla stumbled upon pan-Asian performance collective Peeling at the Asian American Writers Workshop and wrote and performed with them for three years, which she still considers her first theater training. She’s currently under a Toulmin Commission from the Atlantic Theatre writing a new play entitled Revenge Porn that will be workshopped at Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor in Summer 2018. Former Artistic Director of Asian American Theater Company, 2g. Proud member of New Dramatists and The Kilroys. Carla wrote on USA’s Graceland, AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, Amazon’s I Love Dick, Beau Willimon’s The First for Hulu and AMC’s Preacher.

Her plays include Nomad Motel (Rolling World Premiere with City Theatre, Pittsburgh and Horizon Theatre in Atlanta; The Atlantic Theatre in NYC; 2017 Kilroys List play), The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up (Artists at Play, Theatre Mu and forthcoming from Aurora Theatre and Midnight Rice), Fast Company (South Coast Rep, Lyric Stage, Ensemble Studio Theatre, PFP in Seattle), TBA (2g), The Sugar House at the Edge of the Wilderness (Ma-Yi Theatre Company), Dirty and Big Blind/Little Blind. Her full-length plays have been produced or workshopped by The O’Neill Playwrights Conference, The Atlantic Theatre Company, South Coast Rep, Center Theater Group, Huntington Theatre Company, the National New Play Network Showcase of New Plays, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Lark Play Development Center, Ma-Yi Theatre Company, Unicorn Theatre Company, The Women’s Project, Partial Comfort, 2g, The Hegira, Ferocious Lotus, Porkfilled Productions and Artists at Play among others.

She’s taught workshops for The New Victory Theater, Lincoln Center Institute, The Public Theater, The Women’s Project, TDF, American Place Theater, Young Playwrights, The Wallis Annenberg Center and Center Theater Group. She also taught Playwriting at Pace University in NY.

About The National New Play Network

National New Play Network (NNPN) is the country’s alliance of non-profit professional theaters dedicated to the development, production, and continued life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has supported more than 200 productions nationwide through its innovative National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere program, which provides playwright and production support for new works at its Member theaters. Additional programs – its annual National Conference, National Showcase of New Plays, and MFA Playwrights Workshop; the NNPN Annual and Smith Prize commissions; its residencies for playwrights, producers and directors; and the organization’s member accessed Collaboration, Festival, and Travel banks and online information sessions – have helped cement the Network’s position as a vital force in the new play landscape. NNPN also strives to pioneer, implement, and disseminate ideas and programs that revolutionize the way theaters collaborate to support new plays and playwrights. Its most recent project, the New Play Exchange, is changing the way playwrights share their work and others discover it by providing immediate access to information on more than 15,000 new plays by living writers. NNPN’s 30 Core and more than 75 Associate Members – along with the more than 150 affiliated artists who are its alumni, the thousands of artists and artisans employed annually by its member theaters, and the hundreds of thousands of audience members who see its supported works each year – are creating the new American theater. nnpn.org

About Unicorn Theatre

Founded in 1974, Unicorn Theatre enhances the Kansas City community by developing and producing high-quality, thought-provoking plays that have never been seen in the region. We illuminate social issues by shining a light on diversity and inclusive stories which include race, religion and gender identity. Unicorn creates opportunities for the advancement of emerging and established actors, directors, playwrights, designers, technicians and administrative staff.  Unicorn Theatre is under the artistic and executive leadership of Producing Artistic Director Cynthia Levin, who joined the company in 1979. From a newly expanded home in the Midtown neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, the Unicorn houses two stages—The Levin Stage (formerly The Main Stage) and The Jerome Stage (added in 2008).  After a year-long capital campaign Unicorn Theatre was able to purchase the building outright in 2014.  A fully professional not-for-profit theatre, the theatre operates under agreement with Actor’s Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. The Unicorn is a founding member of the National New Play Network, an alliance of not-for-profit professional theatres that champions the development, production and continued life of new plays for the American theatre; and is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national service organization for the not-for-profit professional theatre.  Financial assistance for this theatre has been provided by The National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; corporate and foundation gifts; and the generous individuals throughout the community we serve.


Unicorn Theatre / 3828 Main Street / Kansas City, MO 64111

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