Pictured: Rebecca Gilman’s adaptation of Williams’ THE FIELD OF BLUE CHILDREN for UMKC’s DESIRE: An Evening of Plays Based on Six Stories By Tennessee Williams.
In response to pending budget cuts which threaten the strength of UMKC Theatre, specifically the MFA program, faculty, students, alumni and supporters will come together in a public, community-wide Town Hall meeting Sunday, June 4.
Organized to raise awareness and show support for UMKC Theatre, the town hall goal is to inform the university’s administration of the extensive community support for a program, which U.S. News & World Report has rated among the top graduate theater training programs in the country.
Currently, the proposed budget cuts will mean the loss of four faculty positions for the coming school year, seriously jeopardizing its nationally prominent graduate MFA Theatre program.
Town Hall speakers will include (from the press release):
Theodore Swetz and Patricia McIlrath Professor of Theatre Arts will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. Richard C. “Dick” Brown, AEA actor
Richard C. “Dick” Brown, AEA actor
John Rensenhouse, Kansas City Actors Theatre
Sidonie Garrett, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival
Cynthia Levin, Unicorn Theatre
Jeff Church, Coterie Theatre
Jessica Jensen, 2014 MFA Acting alumna
Marianne McKenzie, 2015 Theatre BA alumna, current MFA Acting student
Ricardo Khan, Tony Award-winning stage director and playwright, UMKC Theatre faculty
Dr. Karen Vorst, Professor of Economics, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences 2006-2011
Dr. Jennifer Martin, Hall Family Foundation Professor Emerita of Theatre Movement
Dr. Felicia Londré, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Theatre, UMKC
Since the 1970’s the primary mission of UMKC, within the University of Missouri System, has been to be the campus for the Performing Arts. Performing Arts at UMKC consist of the Conservatory of Music and Dance and UMKC Theatre, which is the highest-nationallly ranked program at UMKC. The Performing Arts are also front and center in UMKC’s stated mission and goals and currently, only UMKC is allowed to offer the MFA degree in Theatre in Missouri. One of four University of Missouri campuses, UMKC is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
According to the press release, the result of implementing the proposed budget cuts will include:
- Rescinding offers to incoming graduate students, which would result in losing accreditation through University/Resident Theatre Association and the National Association of Schools of Theatre.
- Reducing promised stipend amounts of current graduate students.
- Cutting planned student productions, some of which involve commissioned playwrights and professional stage directors who have been working with students for over a year, and collaborations with community partners who have announced their seasons and budgeted accordingly.
- Eliminating Visiting Professor Ricardo Khan, founder of the Tony Award winning African American company, Crossroads Theatre. Professor Khan is a key recruiter of MFA actors of color, and their only African American faculty member.
- Eliminating other non tenure-track faculty members who are the only instructors of current students, graduate and undergraduate, in their field.
- Loss of design, technical and dramaturgy support provided by UMKC Theatre for UMKC Conservatory opera and dance productions.
- Loss of current graduate students who have turned down competing top national institutions to attend UMKC’s “Center of Excellence” which will no longer exist.
The public, community-wide Town Hall meeting will take place Sunday, June 4th at 6 p.m. Parking for this event is free and is available on levels 5 & 6 only of the multi-level parking structure at 50th between Cherry and Oak (Park near the Northeast Tower and use the elevated crosswalk back to the PAC.)