“We have always known as artists that we wanted to start a theatre.” – Elizabeth Bettendorf Bowman
Artists Elizabeth Bettendorf Bowman and Nathan Bowman have announced the formation of Kansas City Public Theatre, an organization “focused on providing access to the arts through year-round theatre entertainment free of charge to the public.”
According to the press release, KCPublic looks to produce “aesthetically and ideologically diverse new works and reimagined classics which reflect the unique history and concerns of the Kansas City community; and to cultivate civic-minded artists, audiences, and citizens through community-based devised theatre workshops.”
“We want to explore various styles and formats for storytelling,” comments Bowman. “This means we will often produce in unique locations outside of traditional theater spaces, but also work with genres that break from conventional styles of realism. We want to experiment with the ways we tell our stories and draw from the myriad of diverse cultural offerings in Kansas City. We want to tell stories which reflect the perspectives of people of all socio-economic and political backgrounds, hence ‘ideologically diverse.’ We do not want to get trapped in a bubble.”
“We have always known as artists that we wanted to start a theatre. We saw a need to make theatre more accessible to everyone,” Bowman continued. “As artists, the way we afford to go to plays is through having wonderful artist friends who share their complimentary tickets and by attending industry nights. We realized that since we were already a part of the community, we have a support system, but unfortunately not everyone is lucky enough to have this access. Many theaters in Kansas City have education and outreach programs which are directed to schools and getting kids into the arts. We wanted to develop a theatre which reached out to adults who, perhaps having seen theatre as children, now have to get their own tickets and may not be able to afford it. In this way, we are hoping to build on some of the great outreach work that other theatre companies are doing, but also take it into a new direction.”
The company’s inaugural production, FIRST MONDAYS AT THE ARTS BAR, a staged reading series at Uptown Arts Bar will feature plays by Kansas City area playwrights and other work designed to reflect the unique history and concerns of the community. February’s featured play, DADS by Derek Trautwein will be directed by Bowman and take place on February 5th.
Following on the heels of FIRST MONDAYS, KCPublic will launch a program titled KANSAS CITY VOICES, which will invite community members to answer questions about their lives and perspectives. From there the responses are compiled into a script where 5-10 participants share their responses as a staged reading.
“We hope that by fostering an environment where all perspectives are welcome, we can encourage dialogue within our audience members in their communities,” says Bowman. “We also feel this environment is best fostered by allowing people to enter it for free. Theatre is one of the only venues left where people put away their screens and a collection of people take in the same experience. Because of that, it is a space conducive for community members to engage with one another and listen to the experiences of other people.”
For more information on Kansas City Public Theatre visit kcpublictheatre.org.
Abigail Trabue Managing Editor
Abigail is the managing editor of both PerformInk Chicago and Kansas City. She is also the founder of the RV Miles Network and travels full-time with her husband and kids producing three weekly podcasts and a travel blog - RVMiles.com. Abigail holds a degree in Musical Theater from Columbia College Chicago and has worked as an actor/director for 15 years. She is married to PerformInk publisher Jason Epperson and has three amazing boys. You can find her on Twitter @AbigailTrabue