NE resident’s play set for Fringe Festival

By Micah Wilkins
Northeast News
July 23, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Catherine Browder has lived and worked as a writer in the Northeast for more than 30 years. But only until recently have her works of fiction and short form taken place in this historic neighborhood.

“For a long time I wouldn’t write about it, but I’m liking it more and more,” Browder said. “As I get older, I realize this is a pretty cool place to set things.”

Browder, 69, just sold a long story based in the Northeast to the literary magazine “Ploughshares,” and published another in “Kansas City Noir” which references Northeast street names and places.

Browder’s plays have appeared at several Kansas City theaters and this Saturday, July 26, residents will have the opportunity to see yet another of her plays, “The Falstaff Years.” This short monologue will be featured with three other short plays in a show called “Turning Points” put on by Potluck Productions. Saturday night’s show is a part of the KC Fringe Festival, an 11-day event that celebrates performance and visual arts. The Turning Point’s last show is July 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Phosphor Studios, 1730 Broadway. Tickets are $10, plus the one-time purchase of a $5 Fringe Festival button which is required for entry at all Fringe performances.

Saturday night’s show is just one of over 400 performances that are a part of this year’s Fringe Festival. The event, which takes place until July 27, features art and performances from 100 different individuals and theatre troupes, performing in 19 venues across Kansas City.

“It’s what we used to call an embarrassment of riches,” Browder said. “There’s so much good stuff that we’re embarrassed we don’t know of everything.”

The play’s character, who is unnamed, reminisces about his experiences as an actor and the similarity of the roles he’s been cast in over the years, mostly in Shakespeare plays.

Browder has some experience acting, which influenced the script of “The Falstaff Years” and the content of some of her other plays as well.

“That experience acting really has helped me with writing plays because you have more respect for what can and cannot come out of somebody’s mouth,” Browder said. “I can imagine the play. I imagine the stage, the actors, the set. That’s a particular kind of imagining than [when writing] fiction.”

The production company, Potluck Productions, has put on several of Browder’s plays. Potluck’s mission is to encourage female playwrights in the Kansas City area by producing their work, and each of Saturday’s four short plays are written by women.

“When these women started [Potluck Productions] in the 1990s, they felt as if production companies and decisions were being made by men and there wasn’t enough of an opportunity for women,” Browder said.

Most of the theatre companies in town, save for Unicorn Theatre, Browder said, produce mostly plays written by men. Furthermore, Browder said, most of the production companies in the city are managed by men.

“[Potluck Productions] was correcting a flaw in the system, [by] encouraging women to write and give them an audience and a venue,” Browder said.

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