2017-18 Season

Graduate Productions

Men on Boats

by Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Missy Koonce

Sept 6-Oct 1
Co-Produced with Unicorn Theatre
The Levin Stage
Ten manly explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. And an all-female cast! Men on Boats tells the true story of an 1869 expedition, when a one-armed captain and a crew of daring volunteers set out to chart the course of the Colorado River, dodging rapids and naming every landmark. This rowdy satire written in modern language about fearless pioneers takes on a whole new meaning with women at the helm.


King Lear

by William Shakespeare
directed by Ryan Artzberger

October 13 – 22, 2017
Spencer Theatre
Co-Produced with Kansas City Actors Theatre

October delivers a new take on Shakespeare’s King Lear, directed by Ryan Artzberger. Starring Theodore Swetz with a cast that includes Mark Robbins, Peggy Friesen and Logan Black, this classic tale of tragic hubris, sibling rivalry, and heated passions will be produced in a renewed partnership between KCAT and UMKC Theatre. We’re excited to introduce bright new talents alongside some of the city’s finest veteran actors, all of it in service to one of the Bard’s finest works.

“We watch a crowned leader who has never done a thing for others suffer tremendously through his own blindness and narcissism. At the moment his heart breaks, he is filled with human insights of love, compassion, grace, trust, and loyalty. He dies a better person, and Shakespeare gives hope to us all for a possible redemption, even in our dying breath.”
– Tom Mardikes,
UMKC Theatre

Stupid Fucking Bird

By Aaron Posner
Directed by Theodore Swetz

29 Nov – 23 Dec
Co-produced with Unicorn Theatre
The Levin Stage
Sort of Adapted From THE SEAGULL by Anton Chekhov 
An aspiring director, a beautiful young actress, an aging Hollywood star and a famous author discover the messed up joys and thrilling heartbreaks of the struggle to create new art. In this hilarious reimagining of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, Aaron Posner pits two tangled generations of star-crossed lovers against each other in the search for love and true meaning. With original songs, boundary-crossing innovation, and irreverent wit, Stupid Fucking Bird gives the finger to one classic play.

Go Please Go

by Emily Feldman
Directed by Joshua Kahan Brody

Dec 1-Dec 10
Olson Performing Arts Center, Studio 116

A couple decides: This isn’t working. He

says he’ll leave, and then he doesn’t. He stays and stays and stays. Through seventy years of marriages, bar mitzvahs, baptisms, and funerals, he stays. People get drunk. People get sober. People plan vacations. People die. Somebody wins the lottery. A baby grows up. Everybody dances. GO. PLEASE. GO. asks what it means to love somebody for a lifetime, and what a lifetime even means.


The Secret of Courage

Adapted by Laurie Brooks
From the short story by Terry Brooks
Directed by Graham Whitehead

Jan 23-Feb 18
Co-Produced with  The Coterie
A world premiere production with magic and wonderment, the play begins with 13 year old Jack McCall learning some very bad news about his health. His best friend Waddy is not as concerned as he is, since you hear stories of people getting over this illness all the time. From there, reality blends with fantasy as Jack becomes convinced that he needs to find his way back to the magical park and the imaginary friends from his childhood. An elf named Pick along with an owl, a troll, and a ghost challenge Jack to an adventure to save the park from an evil imprisoned in a massive tree. But this adventure may not even be real, so what does facing this adversary in the park have to do with Jack’s sickness anyway?

Author Terry Brooks is one of the most celebrated fantasy authors in the country. Terry is brother to our resident playwright, Laurie Brooks, who has adapted this world premiere for our stage.


The Storytelling Project

A Devised Piece 
directed by Karen Lisondra
Composer: Amado Espinoza

Feb 23-Mar 4
Olson Performing Arts Center, Studio 116

Devised by Karen Lisondra and the second year MFA Acting class, Storytelling Project aims to create a visual and musical experience through personal stories and physical storytelling. With inspired compositions the creation of original instruments by Amado Espinoza, audiences will be pulled into the true collaboration that exists within us all.

(Against) Type

Directed and Created by Darren Sextro

April 20-29
Olson Performing Arts Center, Studio 116

A collection of work challenging the parameters of texts, and what the audience expects of them.

Freedom Summer

by Ricardo Khan, Sibusiso Mambo &
Denise Nicholas
Directed by Ricardo Khan

May 4-13
Spencer Theatre

When the hate and inhumanity of man against man makes it seem sometimes like the bad guys and bullies are winning, don’t fret. For there are always some who will stand up in the face of it, and with courage, love and a belief that we are better than that, prove the best of who we truly are. In the summer of 1964, groups of college students, black and white together from across America, gave up their summer vacations, their sense of comfort and safety, and travelled south into the very mouth of one of the most frightening, racist places imaginable at that time, Mississippi, where black Americans were being systematically terrorized and intimidated out of their right to vote, and good people were being killed just for trying to help. That summer, Mississippi burned and the country saw and bore the spiritual cost. But because of the efforts of these brave and beautiful young people, the light in us prevailed and history was made. And in the process, united for a cause greater than themselves, they also found joy, love, and music. Freedom Summer.

Undergraduate Productions

Dog Sees God

by Bert V. Royal
directed by Stephanie Roberts

Sept 29-Oct 8
Olson Performing Arts Center, Studio 116

Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead is a reimagining of our beloved childhood comic book characters as modern, dysfunctional adolescents. Drugs, sex, violence—good grief! This dark comedy dives headfirst into teen angst and the painful reality of trying to find one’s place in the world.


The Insubordinates: Adaptations of Dystopia

Directed by Heidi Van
Co-Produced with Fishtank Performance Studio
Nov 16-19
Performances at The Living Room

The Fishtank Theatre and UMKC Theatre present adaptations of dystopia in an evening of new work titled: The Insubordinates. The short plays presented are adapted and inspired by 1984, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, Gathering Blue, The Lottery, and Brave New World.

Playwrights are Heidi Van, Teresa Leggard, Vanessa Severo, Darren Canady, Lindsay Adams, and Jesse Ray Metcalf. Performances will take place at The Living Room Theatre in the East Crossroads.

Winter Intensive

Directed by Heidi Van
Co-Produced with Fishtank Performance Studio
Feb 8-11

Twice a year the Fishtank works with undergraduate theatre students on a production that fuses form and idea in a devised piece based on the students’ themed class work.