The Coterie presents Poe stories


Posted by Bob Evans

The Coterie and
Union Cemetery Historical Society
Bring Poe Classics to Life in
Outdoor, Socially Distanced Event
at Hidden K.C. Gem



WHAT: Electric Poe

                       Co-produced with
                       Union Cemetery Historical Society
                       By Edgar Allan Poe
                       Adapted by Coterie Artistic Director Jeff Church
                       Composed by Rex Hobart

          WHEN: September 17 – October 31, 2020
Press / Opening Night:
Friday, September 18, at 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: Union Cemetery
227 E 28th Terrace, Kansas City, MO 64108

PRICE: $50.00 for a “plot” that reserves an area for up to four to attend

INFO / RESERVATIONS: The Coterie Box Office
Phone: (816) 474-6552     Online:

Kansas City, MO – This Fall, The Coterie presents Electric Poe, a special socially-distanced, outdoor event co-produced with Union Cemetery Historical Society and held at Union Cemetery. A unique theatrical event for families with ages 10 and older, Electric Poe features R.H. Wilhoit delivering two of Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known works, with musical underscoring by guitarist Rex Hobart. Adapted and directed by Coterie producing artistic director, Jeff Church, Electric Poe will have performances Thursdays-Sundays at sunset September 17-October 31, 2020.

Two moody masterpieces by Edgar Allan Poe are brought to life – and death – by actor and Coterie teaching artist, R.H. Wilhoit, for outdoor listeners who gather at Union Cemetery. In the style of an 1850’s orator, Wilhoit will present readings of The Premature Burial and The Masque of the Red Death. First appearing in 1844 in the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper, Poe took advantage of concerns at the time in The Premature Burial. In The Coterie’s reading, a speaker delivers something of an antique TED Talk about his mortal fear, when it appears to manifest right before our eyes. Then, in 1842’s The Masque of the Red Death, Prince Prospero walls himself and his courtiers away from the outside world where the contagious Red Death reigns. Composer and musician Rex Hobart accompanies each performance of Electric Poe live on electric guitar.

Electric Poe will be performed outside at the “holding vault” near the entrance of Kansas City’s Union Cemetery, one of Kansas City’s hidden gems. “When we understood The Coterie needed to move outside in order to safely bring small groups of families together – and social distance them – Union Cemetery was our first thought,” says Church, “especially given its close proximity to The Coterie’s home in Crown Center.” Kevin Fewell, president of the Union Cemetery Historical Society, co-producer of Electric Poe, agreed by adding, “Both of these stories are perfectly suited to Union Cemetery which was established in 1857 in response to the cholera epidemic of the day. Our grounds at sunset will set the perfect tone for this unique pairing of Edgar Allan Poe classics.”

The Coterie’s Electric Poe will run approximately 45 minutes, followed by an optional Q&A with performers and a Union Cemetery historian. Electric Poe will be best appreciated by families with ages ten and older. The Coterie is funded in part by the Missouri Arts Council, ArtsKC Fund, and Theater League.

With field trips unlikely this semester, The Coterie has arranged to make Electric Poe available to educators and their classrooms online through Classroom Immersions, a new series of virtual residencies led by professional teaching artists that use interactive lesson plans to enhance language and theatre arts education. Students in grades 8-12 will view Electric Poe, then be joined virtually by Wilhoit, who will explore the historical and cultural context that inspired Poe’s writings and the symbolism and imagery he used to create lasting impressions. Students will then create their own masterpiece in the form of a dramatic scene or monologue. The Coterie’s Classroom Immersions are available September-December 2020 to educators nationwide. More information and booking details are available at


Each $50.00 purchase of a “plot” will reserve an area for up to four to attend Electric Poe. To ensure social distancing, limited plots are available. Evening start times vary based on sunset, with two performances on Halloween. There will be no late seating. Patrons must be masked to enter and exit and are required to bring their own chairs and blankets. No food please. Plots are on sale now through The Coterie’s box office at 816.474.6552 or

Electric Poe will be a ticketless, socially distanced event, enforcing the guidelines recommended by the CDC and local government officials. Guests are required to wear a mask while entering and moving around the cemetery. Patrons must wear masks while exiting. All plots will be socially distanced with at least 6 feet of space between them and the first row of plots at least 15 feet from the acting space. Free parking is available just outside the gates of Union Cemetery. For information on special needs seating and/or parking, please contact our Box Office at 816-474-6552. Should a decision be made to cancel a performance due to inclement weather, a notice will be posted on The Coterie’s social media and will be emailed to all ticket holders. The decision to cancel will be made no later than two hours before showtime. If a performance is canceled, we will happily reschedule ticket holders to another performance. All ticket orders are considered a final sale with no refunds or cancellations. If forced to shelter in place due to health regulations, the reading will either be virtual or may have to be cancelled. Detailed information on Covid19 safety is available at

The cast of The Coterie & Union Cemetery Historical Society’s co-production of Electric Poe
features (left to right) Rex Hobart and R.H. Wilhoit (photos by J. Robert Schraeder)
and will be performed at the holding vault in Union Cemetery.
Designated by TIME magazine in the top three theaters for young audiences in Nov. 2004 (“groundbreaking…one of the nation’s most respected”), The Coterie, a not-for-profit professional company located in Kansas City, MO, has been at the forefront of commissioning new works or adaptations that contribute to the field of theatre for young audiences. More than 50 world or American premieres for all ages have been produced by The Coterie over the last 25 years, during Artistic Director Jeff Church’s tenure, including hosting multiple major Broadway composers and lyricists to shape quality musicals for youth and families. The Coterie is interested in intergenerational conversation, and consistently includes teen programming in its season and outreach efforts. The Coterie’s community programming redefines traditional notions of work for young audiences with its unique dramatic writing programs, teen LGBTQ work, as well as its teen mental health and STD/AIDs education and prevention programs, free of charge to 8,000 teens per year, overseen by Executive Director Joette Pelster and a dedicated staff. All these components serve an average of 80,000 per year through over 350 performances. The Coterie Theatre School, offering process-based drama classes for Grades K-12, has locations throughout greater Kansas City.

Due to the nature of live theatre, play selection, performance schedule and casting are subject to change.

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