Two plays from Black Kansas City playwrights will be featured June 8 – 11 at the KC Arts Asylum as part of the Crescendo Award Presentation. 

The Crescendo Award is an up to $2,500 grant awarded by the Theatre Community Fund to help elevate the voices of BIPOC creators in Kansas City. Funded projects are also given a performance space free of charge and financial assistance with marketing their project.  

This year’s Crescendo Award presentation includes two plays by Black playwrights: “The Price of Bail” from Olivia Hill and Terrace Wyatt Jr.’s “Black Man, MO.” 

The Price of Bai

Olivia Hill won the prestigious Lorraine Hansberry Award from the Kennedy Center for her one-act play “Mother Spense.” When she sat down to write “The Price of Bail,” Hill says she wanted to win all the cannolis. “The Price of Bail” was a finalist for the Hansberry Award and is now making its Kansas City debut in the writer’s hometown. 

“The play is a family drama about survival and truth,” says Hill. “It’s about how a family addresses trauma and living with less.” 

The play centers around three sisters and their mother, who demands that the family come up with bail money for their brother, who’s been accused of rape. The cost is difficult for a family of little means, and past wounds are exposed before the family finds their inner power from an unlikely ancestral source. 

The play is informed by Hill’s upbringing on KC’s east side and features course language and subjects like abuse and sexual violence that may cause emotional distress to some. 

“I try to be as accurate and truthful as I can about what I know people will do instead of making it really polite and nice,” says Hill. 

Tickets are available for showings of The Price of Bail Thu. June 8 at 7:30 p.m., Sat. June 10 at 7:30 p.m., and Sun. June 11 at 2 p.m. The performances occur at Arts Asylum, 824 Myer Blvd in KCMO.

Black Man, MO 

Terrace Wyatt Jr’s “Black Man, MO,” tells the story of a young and gifted Black man who’s falsely accused and then loses his life through police brutality. The bulk of the play is a one-on-one confrontation between the officer responsible for the death and the mother. 

“This is a Black Lives Matter story,” says playwright Terrace Wyatt Jr. 

Wyatt says he wrote the play in a fury in the summer of 2020 after George Floyd and watching the local protests on the plaza. The play touches on the ongoing violence in Kansas City and examines the ripple effects of violence on families through a mother’s point of view. 

“Get ready to cry,” says Wyatt. “It’s so unforgettable. Once you leave the theater, you’ll want to start having these sorts of hard conversations.”

“Black Man, MO” is the first professional production written by Terrace Wyatt Jr., an Alumni of William Jewell’s theater department. Wyatt is also a working actor fresh off a run with Kansas City Repertory Theatre playing a lost boy in their reimagined production of “Peter Pan.”

Tickets are available for showings of Terrace Wyatt Jr.’s Black Man, MO Fri. June 9 at 7:30 p.m., Sat. June 10 at 2 p.m., and Sun. June 11 at 6 p.m. The performances occur at Arts Asylum at 824 Myer Blvd in KCMO.