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26 Issues

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Celebrating Black History with The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City 

The vision of The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City is a united community embracing stories of the African-American experience; its mission is to educate and inspire our community by presenting and promoting appreciation for Black culture through our stories. 

Local Actor-director-entrepreneur Damron Russel Armstrong established the company during the 2016-2017 season with Dreamgirls in Concert, Lydia Diamond’s Stick Fly, and Clarke Peters’ Five Guys Named Moe. “My ultimate goal is that all theaters incorporate this kind of programming,” Damron said. “But I feel it’s just as important that those in the disenfranchised part of Kansas City… have an opportunity to see themselves onstage all year. Our mission is rudimentary in its premise: Giving back to all of the community a sense of history and knowledge that has been kept from them.”

A Soldier’s Play


Damron Russel Armstrong

This company has mixed traditional plays such as A Soldier’s Play and Big River with more adventurous works such as Passing Strange and Othello the Remix. The use of non-conventional venues has become an intriguing part of the ensemble’s identity, as have collaborations with other local companies. BRTKC also runs the Young Actors Summer Conservatory, a theater intensive (operating under Damron’s direction) in which students are trained by professionals in drama, dance, music, stagecraft, and Black theater history. 

UPCOMING: From March 11th through the 26th, BRTKC collaborates with the White Theatre at the J for a production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, a classic play with themes that still resonate both here and throughout The United States. Call 913-327-8054 or go to brtkc.org.

Featured in the February 4, 2023 issue of The Independent.
By Paul Horsley

Paul Horsley, Performing Arts Editor 

Paul studied piano and musicology at WSU and Cornell University. He also earned a degree in journalism, because writing about the arts in order to inspire others to partake in them was always his first love. After earning a PhD from Cornell, he became Program Annotator for the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he learned firsthand the challenges that non profits face. He moved to KC to join the then-thriving Arts Desk at The Kansas City Star, but in 2008 he happily accepted a post at The Independent. Paul contributes to national publications, including Dance Magazine, Symphony, Musical America, and The New York Times, and has conducted scholarly research in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic (the latter on a Fulbright Fellowship). He also taught musicology at Cornell, LSU and Park University.