UMKC improves ties to New York Acting Company

Acting Company playwriting meeting September, 2015. photo by Stephanie Roberts
Acting Company playwriting meeting

UMKC Theatre has strong relationships with Kansas City professional theatres, and through a new partnership with The Acting Company, we’re strengthening our relationship with the national theatre scene as well. The Acting Company, a theatre company based out of New York City, has toured nationally for forty years and produced high-caliber actors such as Kevin Kline, Jesse L. Martin, Patti LuPone, and Jeffery Wright. But recently, TAC company members realized that though they would play in cities all over the country every year, they weren’t developing any relationships with theatres on a national scale. So they developed their new “Consortium” model and tapped UMKC to collaborate on the maiden voyage of the new system.

“The Acting Company has decided to actually embed itself into our community to help grow and foster the development of the artists with whom they’ll be working and performing,” says Tom Mardikes, chair of UMKC Theatre.  “This pairs perfectly with our mission to have our students work side-by-side with professionals, actively engaging in professional products.” The Consortium Model is a three year cycle that works like this: four major universities are picked to be regional hubs, networking with other schools and organizations. UMKC is a hub for the midwest, coordinating with University of Missouri-Columbia, Kansas University, University of Central Missouri, and local high schools. The first year is the planning phase, laying out the plans for workshops, internships, and collaborations.  A project, based on a theme, is picked for the cycle to center upon. For UMKC’s cycle, “Assassination” is the chosen theme, including Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and a new work being written by Marcus Gardley about the assassination of Malcolm X. The second year focuses on carrying out those plans, including a playwriting contest implemented by our consortium. Students from each hub will submit scripts written on the theme, which will then be evaluated and workshopped,eventually to be performed in the third phase. The third year is the culmination of the project. The Acting Company will tour their two productions, and the four best plays drawn from the consortium schools will be given a public reading in New York City where the students and faculty of consortium schools will participate in internships, workshops, and networking events. 

This new model puts UMKC in dialogue with the national theatre world, providing students from all disciplines with opportunities to work with theatre professionals from all over the country.  As a hub for the midwest region, UMKC will act as a conduit, not only strengthening our relationships with the professional theatre scene in Kansas City, but with a network of artists all over the country. It is a truly national collaboration, and in this inaugural cycle, UMKC is leading the charge.

by Ethan Zogg