Gary Enrique Bradley-Lopez is offering a unique opportunity to support Black theatre Aug. 18 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  of Kansas City to help elevate the voices of local BIPOC creators. Award winners are also given a performance space free of charge and financial assistance with marketing their project.  

This year’s winners included Olivia Hill and Terrace Wyatt Jr., whose stories we shared in our Feb. 17, 2023, issue. 

Bradley-Lopez brings his play “If Only, Graduating Western University” to the Arts Asylum Aug. 18 as the third and final Crescendo Award presentation this year.   

The play follows a student about to graduate college at Western University in the present day.  Western University, located in the Quindaro Township, which is now part of Kansas City, KS,    was the only HBCU in Kansas, but it closed in the 1940s. 

The play hints at Afro-futurism by imagining what would have become of Western University and KCK had it not closed. William T. Vernon, the former president of Western University, narrates the whole journey.

“This is an ode to the Blackest college in Kansas,” says Bradley-Lopez. “It shares a history of what was, and what could’ve been, as well as the current struggles college students are going through.”

The main character has procrastinated on his capstone project and is writing a comic book at the last moment. 

Bradley-Lopez says that the play follows three stories: the HBCU’s president, the college student, and the superheroes in the comic book that’s being written. 

The Aug. 18 performance is a staged reading, meaning it isn’t a full production with sets. But the actors will read from the script and act out the play with the director present and do a few costume changes. 

“It’s still a show, and audiences get to be involved in the beginning process of a creation,” says Bradley-Lopez. 

The staged reading will be followed by an audience talk back, with the actors, director, and the play’s creator available for feedback and questions. The staged reading is a pay-what-you-can event, but for $20, you can reserve seats in advance — including front row — by emailing

IF ONLY, Graduating Western University

The Arts Asylum

824 E. Meyer Blvd, KCMO

Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m.

Audience talkback to follow

Pay what you can at the door