Charlotte Street Foundation identifies the needs and fuels the evolution of an ever-changing multidisciplinary arts ecosystem, acting as its primary provocateur. We cultivate the contemporary, the exceptional, and the unexpected in the practice of artists working in and engaging with the Kansas City Art Community
2016 was an extremely busy year for me. I was involved in 8 different theatrical productions. I directed for a couple; wrote some pieces; and I surprised myself by actually acting in a few. I thought I’d write a few blog posts to help me reflect on and process what I accomplished.
This post takes me up to the end of July and includes some of the lighter things I was involved in, and the One Minute Play festival.
In December 2015, I got an email about submitting work for the Kansas City iteration of the One Minute Play Festival. The festival, created by Dominic D’Andrea and locally co-produced by Heidi Van and The Fishtank Theater, asked writers to consider where they saw the city and the country as a whole and to write a piece that was a snapshot of their vision. The festival ran in late January / early February. I wrote a piece called “Josh’s Party” that shows an awkward meeting between two men a few days after they’d had a one-night stand. Ultimately, it was about connections, told through the lens of hook-up culture. I viewed the piece as a comical look at how people have different agendas when they meet for whatever purpose and how they’re impacted differently by events. The other piece I wrote featured a blindfolded “man” who arbitrarily categorized people based solely on touching their face for two seconds. The piece was both a weird post-apocalyptic vision of the future and a reflection of what many of us do daily when we lock in our first impressions of strangers. In the play, people were sorted into categories ranging from sexual orientation to political stance to music preference (Bieber, anyone? No? Oh.).
Writing for this festival taught me a lot about word economy and how to quickly set a scene or paint a picture. I also learned the value of deeply examining text (both as a writer and a director), and then re-examining it so that you don’t misunderstand the intention of the script. If you don’t, you could end up taking the work down paths it isn’t meant to go. In a future blog post I’ll devote more to the power and inherent risks of such short short plays.
In July, I produced, through my company Whim Productions, a one-act play I wrote called Mimi Dafoe: Confessions of an Aging Starlet. This was part of the Kansas City Fringe Festival. Mimi tells the story of an aging reclusive actress (played by the wonderful Bonita Hanson) who grants an extended interview to a young woman (the remarkable Devon Barnes) making a documentary. The interview unravels amidst lies and hidden agendas. It’s a dark comedy and included fake film clips from early in Mimi’s career. The talented Fringe-favorite Tara Varney directed.
In the same festival, I also produced, directed, and acted in Baddest Auditions. This was the 3rd installment of a largely improvised show in which I play an incompetent director holding auditions. Hopeful actors come in and give some of the weirdest auditions you could imagine. This year, one of the auditions featured a man (Christopher Steinauer) who was possessed by a demon. The demon forced his host to try to get acting gigs. Another actor (Alexandria Walters) came in with her boyfriend, who happened to be a sock puppet. All the actors were vying for roles in a stage adaptation of Anna Karenina. The director was adapting the play himself and had yet to finish the book. Bonita Hanson, Devon Barnes, and Tara Varney were also in Baddest Auditions, along with a host of others.
I’ll wrap this post up with the random observation that blogging makes me feel like Doogie Howser. If you’re too young to get that reference, click here.