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Yay! It’s KC Fringe Fest time again! From July 17 to July 27, Kansas City’s annual arts festival will take over Westport, Midtown, and the Crossroads. If you haven’t attended a Fringe event before, your chance is here. Get on that!
Fringe consists of dozens of brand new plays, spoken word and musical performances, dance, visual art displays, films, and a whole lot of art that is too unusual to be easily categorized. Attending Fringe shows is local culture creation and consumption at its most democratic, surprising, and delightful. Oh, and also affordable. Most shows are $10. You also need to buy a $5 Fringe Button, sold at every performance venue, which you have to keep with you to get into shows; it’s a one-time purchase, good for the duration of Fringe. Tickets to individual shows can be purchased online (http://kc-fringe.ticketleap.com/), through a mobile app, or at each venue’s box office.
Make time to go see some Fringe stuff in July. You don’t have something better to do. You’ll see something strange and new. You’ll meet new people. You’ll look cute and artsy. Taking a date to a Fringe show is worth a drawer full of Andrew Christian.
And there’s a whole lot of great LGBTQ stuff at Fringe this summer! A lot of our artists are getting their stories told in new, weird, powerful ways. Go support them! Here are some of the LGBTQ highlights.
Stairway to Kevin 2: Heavy Fantasy by Kevin Thornton
I saw the first Stairway to Kevin last year at Fringe, and Kevin Thornton is so damn adorable. And talented! We’re talking a one-man comedy rock-n-roll musical here, folks. He’s the writer, the star, and the band. He’s been touring with his shows for the past few years to sold-out houses, as well as popping up on NPR and as a guest lecturer at Berkeley. This year’s installment has Thornton finding himself broke and homeless, but ready to sing adorable songs with his adorable voice and make thought-provoking -- yet adorable -- observations about the search for love, sex, and the meaning of life. Thornton’s also out as a member of the LGBT community, and his work boogies with happy, queer energy. Stairway to Kevin 2: Heavy Fantasy performs Friday, July 18 @ 8 p.m.; Sunday, July 20 @ 6:30 p.m.; Friday, July 25 @ 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 26 @ 9:30 p.m. The Buffalo Room (in the Westport Flea Market), 817 Westport Rd., Kansas City, Mo.
Melinda Ryder’s Delicious Divas!!!
Melinda, Melinda! Queen among Queens! Empress of the Plains! Fairy Godmother to even the lowliest of the Kansas City proletariat. Brush against us with but the hem of your gown and we shall be healed. Melinda and Kirk have wrangled up some of their favorite queens for an evening of draggy glamour, live vocal performances, and comedy. The lineup includes Loreal, Loretta Martin, Sandy Kay, and Rozz Smith. All proceeds go to LIKEME Lighthouse and GLAMA (Gay and Lesbian Archives of Mid-America), because Melinda Ryder never met a dollar she didn’t give right back to the community. The schedule for Melinda Ryder’s Delicious Divas!!! isn’t finalized, so keep checking the Fringe website, but it will be performed at Off Center Theatre at Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.
Drunks from Play On Productions and Pete Bakely
Hilarious jack-of-all-theater Pete Bakely wrote and Brian Moses (The Living Room’s maestro) directs this dark, naughty original comedy. Two actors and a screenwriter, stuck in an abandoned motel for the night, find themselves naked and duct-taped to a chair the next morning. Drinking, drugs, vomiting, banter, and the longest same-sex kiss you’ll see at Fringe this year. Drunks performs Saturday, July 19 @ 7:30 p.m.; Monday, July 21 @ 6:00 p.m.; Tuesday, July 22 @ 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, July 23 @ 9 p.m.; Saturday, July 26 @10:30 p.m.. Phosphor Studios, 1730 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.
How I Lost My Virginity at 29 & Other Embarrassing Tales
by Brian Schiller
Stand-up comic Brian Schiller is straight. How I Lost My Virginity… follows Schiller’s journey of self-discovery through surviving sexual abuse, therapy, and grief. None of which are funny topics (well, maybe therapy). But Schiller insists that LGBT audiences love his story. Schiller says one gay audience member said, “I think that your show resonates with a gay crowd because it is a story to which we can relate. As a community, gays have all experienced what it is like to be ‘othered,’ or to have an abnormal experience. …Our experience allows us to appreciate the humor of your show.” How I Lost My Virginity at 29 & Other Embarrassing Tales performs Friday, July 18 @ 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 19 @ 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.; Sunday, July 20 @ 6 p.m. The Fishtank, 1715 Wyandotte, Kansas City, Mo.
PathWays: The Digital Musical
by Lei Lei Lashawn
Now here’s the kind of boldly unique, multi-genre piece that makes Fringe so pleasantly unpredictable. LGBT community member and playwright Lei Lei Lashawn stars in this original percussion musical/spoken word/visual art/performance piece hybrid about one woman’s surreal quest to reconnect with her lost brother. The protagonist identifies at times as a butterfly, at other times as a woman whose consciousness leaks out beyond her own self, all over the course of a moving investigation into loss and sanity. Bring tissues and an appetite for the mysterious. PathWays: The Digital Musical performs Tuesday, July 22 @ 9 p.m.; Thursday, July 24 @ 9 p.m.; Saturday, July 26 @ 7:30 p.m. The Fishtank, 1715 Wyandotte, Kansas City, Mo.
Project Pride Presents Queerios!
from The Coterie Theater
The Coterie further cements its standing as the most progressive youth theater company with Queerios! Created by Project Pride, The Coterie’s queer youth theater troupe. You’ll tour Queer Company Labs, utilizing comedy, drama, and movement in dynamic scenes that explore issues of LGBT empowerment, bullying and superheroes. Things are getting better for queer kids, and it’s because of gutsy people like the teenagers who wrote this . A ticket to Queerios is a 2-for-1 deal: a scandalously charming hour of theater and an exhibition of contemporary queer youth courage. Queerios! performs Saturday, July 19 @ 5 p.m.; Sunday, July 20 @ 3 p.m.; Friday, July 25 @ 7:30 p.m. Off Center Theatre at Crown Center, 2450 Grand Ave., Kansas City, Mo.
Kings of Israel, by Schaeffer Nelson
This provocative, original play takes the audience through a gay’d up retelling of the David-King Saul story from the Bible. Kings of Israel picks up the Biblical narrative right after the shepherd David is secretly anointed the next king of Israel. Over a series of bedroom conversations, David must decide how intimate he can be with the paranoid King Saul, whom he is secretly about to overthrow. The show’s already ruffling feathers -- just say the phrase “gay Bible story” aloud and watch the eyebrows rise. But LGBT people of faith, you’re gonna like this one. And Phil Kinen directs, hot off his work on DeDe DeVille’s hilarious First Lady? If you want controversial, arresting gay theater, here’s your ticket. Kings of Israel performs Friday, July 18 @ 6 p.m.; Sunday, July 20 @ 7:30 p.m.; Friday, July 25 @ 9 p.m.; Saturday, July 26 @ 6 p.m. Phosphor Studios, 1730 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.
Bad Auditions from Whim Productions and Kevin King
From out, proud, and prolific gay KC playwright Kevin King. It takes audiences behind the scenes to the sometimes unintentionally funny experience of auditioning for a play. In theater-giddy Kansas City, Bad Auditions may repeat the big ticket sales of Whim Production’s 2011 Fringe hit Film Classics Presents: Heaven So Far. The phonebook of comic actors that make up the Whim-sized ensemble won’t hurt either — Stefanie Stevens, Genewa Stanwyck, Seth Macchi and Tara Varney, to name a few. The roster of performers will change every night; every performance will be unique. Bad Auditions will be Friday, July 18 @ 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 20 @ 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday, July 22 @ 6 p.m.; Thursday, July 24 @ 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 26 @ 9 p.m. The Fishtank, 1715 Wyandotte, Kansas City, Mo.
Mighty Mo Combo! from Mighty Mo Combo
From the loins of Kansas City’s LGBT Mid-America Freedom Band comes the Mighty Mo Combo, our very own queer, campy jazz ensemble. Their Fringe show offers a cheeky take on favorite classical works altered to fit jazz and rock idioms. “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Tuxedo Junction,” and high-brow goofball fare like “Funkythrustra” based on “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” Mighty Mo Combo! performs Saturday, July 19 @ 6:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 20 @ 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 26 @ 7:30 p.m. Off Center Theatre at Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.
(Virgin.) by Jesse Ray Metcalf
Out playwright Jesse Ray Metcalf teams up with talented, out director J. Will Fritz for this original send-up of Catholic school girl life. Some damn fine local actresses are performing this story of high school sinfulness, Sapphic tension, and virginities -- Alisa Lynn and Ellen Kirk, to name a few. Oh, and Melissa Fennewald. A word about Melissa Fennewald. There are two types of people in this world. People who have witnessed Melissa Fennewald arch an eyebrow and deadpan a comedic line with goosebump perfection, and people who have not. Only one of those groups of people can die having led a full life. Lead a full life. Go see (Virgin.) (Virgin.) performs Friday, July 18 @ 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 19 @ 3:30 p.m.; Monday, July 21 @ 6:30 p.m.; Wednesday, July 23 @ 8 p.m.; Friday, July 25 @ 6 p.m.; Saturday, July 26 @ 9:30 p.m. Just Off Broadway Theatre, 3051 Central in Penn Valley Park, Kansas City, Mo.
More 4Play: Mmm! by Frank Higgins, Forrest Attaway, Teresa Leggard and Schaeffer Nelson
4Play series returns to offer KC audiences maximum pleasure and ultimate satisfaction. More 4Play is a collection of very sexy one-acts, and one of the entries is a gay narrative written by a gay playwright, me (sorry for the shameless self-promotion). My one-act, Fishers of Men, is about the über-awkward encounter between an unwitting evangelist and a man cruising a bathroom for anonymous sex. The other plays are written by local playwright legends. Frank Higgins gives us 99 Ways, the story of a straight couple struggling to incorporate a Cosmo sex article into their relationship. Forrest Attaway’s The Interview depicts a TV interview with a rock star who relates a shattering experience. And Teresa Leggard’s The Birthday sends a daughter back from the future to convince her mother to get into a sexual relationship pronto so that the daughter can eventually be born. And it’s all directed by Scott “Don’t-mind-me,-I’m-just-flawless” Cordes. You know you want to see this … and why resist your burning lust for good theater? More 4Play: Mmm! performs Saturday, July 19 @ 8 p.m.; Sunday, July 20 @ 6 p.m.; Monday, July 21 @ 9 p.m.; Wednesday, July 23 @ 6 p.m.; Thursday, July 24 @ 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 26 @ 10:30 p.m.. Off Center Theatre at Crown Center, 2450 Grand Ave., Kansas City, Mo.
Worldwide opera star Renée Fleming will perform in Kansas City on Thursday night, November 18, but the day before, she'll be part of a panel discussion for "Music and the Mind" — a conversation about how music affects the brain, cognitive development, healing and quality of life.
WHAT: Music and the Mind with Renée Fleming
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov 17, 2021
TIME: 4:00-5:30 PM
WHERE: The 1900 Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods, KS, 66205
Music has a profound impact and the ability to shape 86 billion neurons in the brain for cognitive development, healing, and therapy. Science research has clearly shown that music therapy interventions can improve quality of life across nearly all neurological disorders. And there is tremendous public-interest in applying music to creative aging, childhood development, and community wellness.
But scientists want to know more.
Join soprano Renée Fleming and a distinguished panel of local Kansas City experts in neurology, music therapy, music and healing, and more for this cutting-edge discussion. Audience members will be able to participate in a Q&A following the panel discussion.
*Please note this Music and the Mind Event is not a musical performance*
As Artistic Advisor at Large to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Renée Fleming has spearheaded a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, with the participation of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Sound Health initiative explores and brings attention to research and practice at the intersection of music, health, and neuroscience. This collaboration has led to workshops at the NIH, and events and performances at the Kennedy Center. This initiative has also led the NIH to recently award $20 million dollars in funding for music and neuroscience research over five years.
As part of her advocacy, Fleming is also advisor to the recently launched NEA/UCSF Sound Health Network and co-chair of the Aspen Institute/Johns Hopkins NeuroArts Blueprint, both working to advance the field of arts and health.
This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Please call the Harriman-Jewell Series at 816-415-5025 to reserve your seat.
WHAT: Renée Fleming, soprano in recital
WHEN: Thursday, Nov 18, 2021
TIME: 7:00 PM
WHERE: Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
COST: Tickets from $25.00 *discounts available for students, educators, first responders, active duty military and veterans with valid I.D.
Pair a glorious voice with a winning personality and you have a diva for the ages. Renée Fleming is a longstanding Harriman-Jewell Series favorite. With her many television and Broadway appearances, Fleming has been embraced by music lovers of all genres.
Whether singing at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Olympics, or Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, Renée Fleming represents opera to the world. In addition to her numerous operatic performances, Fleming often works classic show tunes and the Great American Songbook into her recitals. Fleming’s trademark rapport with audiences will give her Kansas City performance a warmth that is personal and sincere.
Rob Ainsley is pianist for the recital. His diverse career as a musician, conductor, educator, and administrator has taken him to top organizations and colleges from coast to coast. He now serves as Director of the Washington National Opera’s Cafritz Young Artists and American Opera Initiative. Ainsley performed with Renée Fleming in The Metropolitan Opera’s August 2020 “Met Stars Live in Concert” that was streamed worldwide.
ABOUT THE HARRIMAN-JEWELL SERIES
Renée Fleming's recital will mark the 977th performance since the Series was founded in 1965. From free education events that allow interaction with musicians and dancers, to our free Discovery Concerts that are open to the community, the Harriman-Jewell Series continues to offer life-enriching opportunities for its community's youth and lifelong learners.
Whether you're spreading truth, information, or love, traveling abroad for humanitarian reasons can have risks. Detained American journalist in Myanmar, Danny Fenster, is to be released from jail, and to fly home soon. But it doesn't always end well for every foreign national attempting to do good in a foreign country.
The missionaries consisting of sixteen Americans and one Canadian kidnapped by the Haitian “400 Mawozo” gang on October 16, is extremely scary. The gang has threatened to kill the humanitarian Christians if a million dollar per person ransom is not fulfilled. The group consists of men, women, children and an eight-month-old baby.
These missionaries have sacrificed their time and paid their own way to go to the poorest place in the Western hemisphere to try to spread God’s love and save some souls. In turn, the missionaries are experiencing a nightmare like they’ve never imagined. They’re imprisoned and being threatened with a bullet in the head.
Most of us will never get over seeing journalists being beheaded and tortured in Syria and Iraq by the barbaric Islamic extremist group called ISIL. Burning people alive and beheading others were too graphic and gruesome to ever be forgotten.
Years ago, I traveled to a third world country on a “missionary trip” with others thinking it would be a nice break. I’ve never worked so hard in my life.
Sadly, the 17 missionaries in Haiti are undergoing a cruel experience that may end with the cost of their very lives. What are they thinking now? What is going through the minds of the little children who traveled to a world to help others and spread God’s love?
Haiti has been the site of years of humanitarian efforts. The United States and other countries have given billions of dollars to help Haiti. Sadly, hurricanes, political unrest, underdevelopment and extreme poverty have all made for a sad scenario.
How much money would the world have to give to Haiti to make life better for this nation? This is a question no one can answer because usually aid is a short-term solution. We spent a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and they aren’t any better off today.
Good missionary people went to Haiti with good hearts for helping others in the name of God’s love. They went to share a message they hoped would bring about change and better lives. They may now lose their lives.
Christians point to Jesus as the model for such missionary efforts. He came preaching and teaching in an effort to demonstrate and spread God’s love and it cost him plenty – his life, executed in public on a cross.
There are some Christians today who, like Jesus, are willing to risk their lives for the sake of others. Did these men and women literally go to Haiti taking their children with them truly believe they could be killed? Would they purposefully do this to their children? Who convinced these people that such a trip with small children was a good idea?
My goal here is to simply say, think about such trips to places like Haiti. Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Nigeria and numerous others countries are not vacation spots. Foreign travel may sound exotic and adventurous but consider the possible cost.
Many missionaries and Christian workers have paid the ultimate price in order to spread the gospel of Christ. Only eternity will reveal what their selfless sacrifice has meant to those whose lives they impacted.
By chance, if you decide such an international trip is not for you, don’t feel bad. Consider helping in an American inner city, Appalachia or maybe your own neighborhood. Service at home is needed across America.
Let’s pray for the safety of these missionaries and for those negotiating their release. May God help them and all who may consider such endeavors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Glenn Mollette is a graduate of numerous schools including Georgetown College, Southern and Lexington Seminaries in Kentucky. He is the author of 13 books including Uncommon Sense, Grandpa's Store, Minister's Guidebook: insights from a fellow minister. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. Glenn Mollette has been on numerous International humanitarian and missionary group trips. Hear Glenn Mollette every weekday morning EST at 8:56 on XM radio 131. Editor-If you need to tweak or do a small edit for you paper or website that is okay. Please respond to this email if you need a picture for this column. Scroll down for additional biographical info. Buy his latest recording titled "Black Coffee" on iTunes. Learn more at www.glennmollette.com
The Black Trans Fund, incubated at Groundswell Fund, and Grantmakers for Girls of Color launched the Holding a Sister Initiative, the first-ever national fund explicitly dedicated to transgender girls and gender-expansive youth of color.
Dr. Monique W. Morris, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, and Bré Rivera, program director of the Black Trans Fund are together spearheading the Holding a Sister Initiative to bring attention and resources to organizations supporting trans girls of color, normalize concern and investment in their success, and create learning opportunities for cis and trans girls of color to move in deeper community with one another.
The initiative will award $1 million in grants in the first year, and will ultimately engage trans girls and gender-expansive youth of color in the decision-making process for selecting grantees on an ongoing basis.
While there has been an increase in donor attention to work led by people of color, it has yet to translate into significant gains in funding for trans and gender-expansive youth of color.
According to recent regional studies in Detroit, South Florida and New Orleans, trans women of color face higher levels of hunger, homelessness, unemployment, incarceration and discrimination. At the same time, the majority of this year's record-breaking anti-trans legislation are targeted to affect youth, including bills that prevent transgender athletes from playing in school sports and the "Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act." Research has show sharp rises in suicide attempts among trans youth during 2020 and 2021.
"The reality is transgender and gender-expansive youth of color require more attention, and resources to interrupt the staggering intersections of trauma and crises they experience," said Bré Rivera.
The initiative joins existing funding intermediaries who have been leading the work to resource trans communities and engage trans people in the direction and distribution of resources, including the Third Wave Fund, the Black Trans Travel Fund, and Fund for Trans Generations. As funding partners, the Black Trans Fund and Grantmakers for Girls of Color aim to expand and transform philanthropy's investments in trans and gender-nonconforming youth. The initiative will move resources to organizations serving and led by trans girls and young women of color. It will also amplify narratives that elevate the humanity, dignity and leadership of trans and gender-expansive youth of color, as well as the ways their experiences and contributions have been overlooked, minimized and targeted by oppositional and systemic forces, and larger social justice movements.
The Holding a Sister Initiative will be led by a manager, who will steward culture change through grantmaking, capacity building, narrative shifting and philanthropic organizing. The position is currently open for applicants.
About Grantmakers for Girls of Color
Fiscally-sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC) works to mobilize resources and amplify transformative organizing work to dismantle systems of oppression led by girls and gender-expansive youth of color. Grantmakers for Girls of Color openly invites partners and stakeholders to co-create an inclusive space in support of girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color across programmatic issues and geographic areas. Learn more by visiting Grantmakers for Girls of Color.
About the Black Trans Fund
The Black Trans Fund is a groundbreaking endeavor: the first national fund in the country dedicated to uplifting and resourcing Black trans social justice leaders. BTF seeks to address the lack of funding for Black trans communities in the U.S. through direct grantmaking, capacity building support, and funder organizing to transform philanthropy. Learn more by visiting Black Trans Fund.