A new play by Kansas City playwright, Gary Enrique Bradley-Lopez, will be read on stage, Saturday, Oct. 1, at Fountain City Winery. The stage reading kicks off the Kansas City Public Theatre’s, 2022-2023 Theatre Lab season, and features five different plays by emerging Kansas City artists.
Black Parents Union, is set in the fictitious Johnson Hill School District, where Black families have gathered after a student-led protest- against discrimination by White students, teachers, and administrators. Utilizing the tools of community organizing, agitation, and tension, difficult decisions are made for the students.
Bradley-Lopez said the play is a reflection of themes he sees in his everyday life and his experiences as a former community organizer.
“This is a play that deals with trust, race, and parents looking at things through their children’s eyes,” Bradley-Lopez said. “I’ve dealt with the attitudes of people complaining, the tension. So I really just kind of thought back on some of the things that I experienced and thought about what would happen if a group of parents did this in the suburbs.”
Theatre Lab is an extension of Kansas City Public Theater. The program allows artists with new and experimental works in development to submit their play to be directed and performed on stage by actors. While the series is not a full theatrical performance, it does provide an opportunity to have the artists’ work performed in front of an audience.
Bradley-Lopez said the opportunity for the stage reading is valuable because the audience reaction and live performance provides feedback on what needs to be revised for future productions.
The play will be staged at the event space inside Fountain City Winery in the Westbottoms, which provides an alternative to the traditional theater experience for audience members. It’s something that Bradley-Lopez, a Kansas City, KS native, is excited about.
Bradley-Lopez hopes eventually Kansas City Public Theater will expand to a dedicated theatre in Wyandotte County, where there currently is not a theatre.
“We have no theaters in Wyandotte County,” Bradley-Lopez said. “There’s some in Johnson County, there’s some in Kansas City, MO, but there’s none in Wyandotte County.”
That’s something the playwright would like to see change in the future.
Admission to the event is free and open to the public. The show will begin at 7:30pm.