Hot damn, you guys. This was a f*%king blast.
For this year's Kansas City Fringe Festival, The Living Room chose to curate a set of four world-premiere Kansas City plays with a single repertory company. I was involved in three of the four productions. In the process, I did just about everything I love: write, direct, act, and maybe I had a few whiskeys.
One of the pieces was a play I wrote with my Friend Dog Studios collaborators, Ben Auxier and Seth Macchi. The play is called "Hacks" or "H4©K$" or however you wanna spell it. It's about two basement-dwelling brothers who can't seem to get off their computers and make a life happen. But all that changes when they're visited by the leaders of a cult that apparently started based on something one of them posted online ten years ago.
Seth Macchi, Ben Auxier, Brian Huther and Ellen Kirk
I played the role of "Devon," the younger brother, while Ben Auxier took on the older "Charlie." Seth Macchi played the cult leader "Echo" and Ellen Kirk—one of our favorites—played the second-in-command "Beam."
"Word to the wise: Enter at your own risk. Fits of laughter engulf the audience as three of the most brilliant and creative comic minds in Kansas City combine their off-beat random thoughts into one of the funniest entries into the Kansas City Fringe Festival in several years."
- Bob Evans, KCfringe.org
2. The Table
Once I was committed to the Fringe project, I asked Living Room Artistic Director Rusty Sneary if I could direct one of the pieces, and he was stupid enough to say yes (stupid dummy).
I relished the chance to direct, and had a great time working on Curtis Smith's "The Table," in which he played the leading role. Ben Auxier was the creepy murdery murderer (or was he?). The play was about repressed male violence. It's a topic I continue to think about, and hope to revisit in future pursuits.
I also performed in Emma Carter's "Wicked Creatures," the hilarious and disturbing story of a woman in the 1800s trying to develop contraceptives by kidnapping men and... well... experimenting.
Look, I'm gonna cut to the chase: getting raped onstage is a whole experience—one I'm glad to have had. It gave me a new perspective on stage intimacy and vulnerability. It was fascinating to see how people reacted to the scene, given how rarely a man is the victim in onstage portrayals of sexual violence.
Emma is a gifted writer and a great human and she took the stage in the role of Clara, opposite my Archie.
(Update: Wicked Creatures was later selected for a reading at the Stella Adler Studio in New York!)
Putting up four shows with a true repertory ensemble—even just for a lowly fringe festival—remains one of the most incredible experiences of my career.