Midwest Dramatists Center Fundraiser

The Writers of Midwest Dramatists Center presents its first ever fundraiser - Seasoned Greetings. For a suggested tax deductible donation (we're now a 501c3!) of $30 per person, you can experience Drinks, Noshes from Johnny's Steak House, Desserts AND a theater experience created that night!

Attendees will be able to bid on either CO-WRITING one of 6 scenes with the MDC writer of his or her choice OR be an actor in the reading of the work created. The actors you'll be sharing your scene with are Matt Rapport, Jake Walker, Bree Elrod, Shawna Pena-Downing, Zachrey York and Ellen Kirk; some of the best talent in Kansas City!

It will be a great start to your Holiday Season!
7pm Saturday, November 7 at the Writer's Place, 3607 Pennsylvania. 

"Fringe Plays" published featuring five Fringe scripts

Fringe Plays is now available in paperback at Lulu, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble for only $12. You can also download it for free as a pdf or as an epub

The five one-act plays in this book all premiered at the Kansas City Fringe Festival between 2008 and 2012, and each was awarded “Best of Fringe” the year it premiered. They now seek out new life at Fringe Festivals around the world. 

Hexing Hitler
In 1941, five people, led by writer and adventurer William Seabrook, gathered in a remote Maryland cabin to put a curse on Adolf Hitler and end World War II using witchcraft. This is the true story of what happened that night.

Sexing Hitler
German soldiers in occupied territories are contracting syphilis from prostitutes in astounding numbers. The disease threatens the stability of the Third Reich. To solve the problem, Adolf Hitler orders the creation of inflatable pleasure dolls that the soldiers can carry in their packs to satisfy their urges. Yes, this is also a true story.

Lingerie Shop
It begins as a steamy, sex-filled comedy, until one of the actresses curses the playwright and quits the play in the middle of a scene. What follows is a Pirandello-styled farce that deconstructs theatre and feminism.

Khaaaaan! the Musical
After Khan attacks the Enterprise crew in the 23rd century, Kirk, Spock and Bones go back in time to find the world locked in a perpetual 1980s culture lorded over by the guitar god Khan. This rock-n-roll parody of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan explores our nostalgic fixation on the past.

Jesus Christ, King of Comedy
Jesus goes into show business and becomes the biggest entertainer in the Middle East despite his rocky relationship with his non-biological father Joseph. The play uses the familiar tale of Christ to satirize our celebrity worshiping society.

"Red Death" Video

Here's a video of our 2014 KC Fringe show "Red Death" recorded by M. L. Bass. 

"Voyage to Voyager" Video

Here's a video of our 2015 KC Fringe show "Voyage to Voyager" recorded and edited by Patrick Hess from the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium at Union Station. 

"Voyage to Voyager" KC Metropolis Review by Anthony Rodgers

In 1977, Carl Sagan led a project to summarize what it means to be human and to send that information into space for the potential discovery by intelligent extraterrestrial life—easier said than done! Voyage to Voyager is a play about a play—“playception”—about the real life struggles encountered by Sagan and colleagues in the development of the Voyager Golden Record, which can be seen this week in an unlikely theater near you: the Gottlieb Planetarium in Union Station.

The concept of this show is simple: to portray the process by which the famous Golden Record came to be; the said process, however, is more complicated than I ever imagined it to have been. Comical, educational, and provocative, this production asks many questions as to what the human experience truly entails and how diverse we all are from one another. The cast was lively and realistic while delivering the inflections and reactions of actors dealing with an energetic yet aloof on-stage director. Portraying Sagan, Coleman Crenshaw was the standout performer, phenomenal as the astronomical icon, and even slightly eerie in his spot-on resemblance.

Presenting a show in a planetarium comes with its own special set of opportunities and challenges, including the fact that the performers’ voices project differently depending on where they are while speaking and where the individual listener is seated. While it was fascinating to note this acoustic phenomenon, it never hindered the performers or flow but remains an interesting tidbit for anyone planning endeavors in a theater meant for a different type of star. The screen was used for projected images from the Golden Record as well as some original animation sequences by Billy Blob. These large cartoons depicted goofy situations in which hydrogen-based life-forms discover the Voyager spacecraft and attempt to decode the images and sounds on the record—silly but possibly realistic in the future, give or take a few billion years or so.

Filled with laughs and scientific details, Voyage to Voyager gives a fresh perspective on the historic task set forth by Sagan and reminds us of the hope that fuels our individual dreams to take us where no one has gone before.

more at KC Metropolis

Screenwriters Slam at Maker Faire

Join me at Maker Faire as we give staged readings of ten short screenplays by members of KC Screenwriters. Featuring the acting talents of Michelle Cotton, Rick Duplissie, Kelli Hahn Morford, Curtis Smith, and Jeff Smith.
1:30pm Sunday, June 28 at the City Stage in Union Station. Maker Faire admission required.

Interview with the Missouri Arts Council

I offered a few words about the Kansas City Fringe Festival to the article "Missouri’s Fringe Fests Are Freewheeling Arts Fun" by Barbara MacRobie (pdf link).

"Voyage to Voyager" Coming to the 2015 KC Fringe Festival

In 1977, Carl Sagan was asked by NASA to create a peaceful greeting to extraterrestrial life; a Golden Record that would be included on board the Voyager Space Mission. The next six months were filled with frantic calls, governmental red tape, unexpected egos, miscommunication, and last-minute changes, but most of all, the question: "What does it mean to be human?"

The creators of the 2014 Kansas City Fringe Festival's Best-Attended Show, “Red Death,” invite you to the magical dome of Union Station's Gottlieb Planetarium, where live actors, animation, and outer space collide in a comedic, informative, and unconventional theatrical event for all ages.

"Voyage to Voyager" is co-written by the authors of "Hexing Hitler/Sexing Hitler" and "KHAAAAAN! The Musical," Bryan Colley and Tara Varney, who also directs. The play stars Coleman Crenshaw as Carl Sagan, Jen Benkert, Claire Davis, Andy Garrison, Michael Golliher, Parry Luellen, and Shelley Wyche, and features original animation by local artist Billy Blob.

 Performance dates and times are as follows:
  • 8:00pm Fri July 17
  • 9:30pm Sat July 18
  • 6:30pm Sun July 19
  • 8:00pm Wed July 22
  • 9:30pm Fri July 24
  • 8:00pm Sat July 25
Tickets are $10. You will need a $5 Fringe Button for entry (kids 12 and under get a free button!) which you can get at the box office or at Fringe Central in Union Station. For more information, visit www.kcfringe.org.

"Lingerie Shop" Staged Reading May 11

Lingerie Shop is a male fantasy of life in a sexy lingerie shop. Everything is hot and steamy until one of the actresses curses the playwright and quits the play in the middle of a scene. What follows is a Pirandello-styled farce that deconstructs theatre and feminism.

Robert Trussell with the Kansas City Star called the play "a short, succinct bit of satire that doesn’t wear out its welcome. It’s a clever idea executed with quick, broad strokes."

Lingerie Shop was first produced at the Kansas City Fringe Festival in 2009. Tara Varney, who directed the original Fringe production, will direct the reading. Also returning from the original production is Marcie Ramirez, Amy Hurrelbrink, and Kelli Morford. They will be joined by Melody Butler and Stefanie Wienecke. Unfortunately, there will be no lingerie in this staged reading (at least, none that is visible).

May 11 at the Writer's Place, 3607 Pennsylvania. Doors open at 7 p.m. The approximately 45-minute reading begins at 7:30, followed by a talkback with the playwright, director, and cast.

Facebook Event Page

Free Download "Khaaaaan! the Musical" Original Cast Recording

You can now download the Khaaaaaan! the Musical Soundtrack from Bandcamp. Just click download on the player above.

Scene from "Sexing Hitler" getting a cold read on KC Live

Michelle Davidson and Joel Nichols demonstrate what a cold read is like using a scene out of Sexing Hitler. It's all to promote the new KC Fringe Presents reading of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at Union Station this month. Tara Varney is reading on March 16.

"The Amanuensis" Staged Reading

A staged reading of my new full-length play, The Amanuensis, will take place at the Midwest Dramatists Center on Monday, February 9, at 7 p.m. The Midwest Dramatists Center is located at the Writer's Place, 3607 Pennsylvania.

The Amanuensis tells the story of a young musician from England who goes to live with the composer Frederick Delius in France. His goal is to help him write music, but he finds the elderly Delius is both paralyzed and blind, and hasn't composed a note in years. This is a true story based on the book Delius As I Knew Him by Eric Fenby.

Directed by Tara Varney, the reading will feature Michael Golliher as Eric Fenby, Bob Allen as Frederick Delius, Nancy Marcy as Jelka Delius, and Jason Miller as Percy Grainger.

The reading is free and open to the public. For more information and to RSVP, please visit the event's Facebook page.