BWW Previews: World Premiere of AFFLICTED: DAUGHTERS OF SALEM Comes to the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City

BWW Previews: World Premiere of AFFLICTED:  DAUGHTERS OF SALEM Comes to the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City

Afflicted: Daughters of Salem, a World Premiere, opens Tuesday January 28 at the Coterie Theater, in Kansas City, Mo. The UMKC Theatre Department is co-producing the National Endowment for the Arts award-winning drama by playwright Laurie Brooks, and directed by Jeff Church. The Coterie, an equity theater, has been co-producing plays with the UMKC Department of Theatre since 1992, in an effort to give MFA actors an opportunity to work with established theater professionals.

Afflicted: Daughters of Salem, is the story of the teenage girls who sparked the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Brooks advised that the creation of the story was a collaboration between her and Coterie Artistic Director Jeff Church. She said, "Jeff was interested in the teen girls who became the accusers in the Salem Witch Trials. Together we tossed around the idea of an original story that would examine how the accusations might have begun."

Asked why the story dealt with the instigators and not the aftermath of the trials, Brooks says, "The Crucible, which most kids read in school, covers the actual trials very well. As a playwright, I have always been fascinated by character, relationships and conflict, so I wanted to explore the group dynamics, the power struggles, and struggle for survival of these girls in a world where danger is a huge part of their everyday life."

The story of the Salem teen's stars professional actors Emily Shackelford, recently starring as Dorothy in the Coterie Theatre production of The Wiz, as Ann Putnam, and Hannah Thompson returns to the Coterie as Betty Paris. They are joined by UMKC graduate acting students Nicole Greenberg (as Abigail Williams), Jessica Jensen (as Mary Warren), Logan Black (as the Voice of Reverend Parris), Emily Nan Phillips (as Mercy Lewis), and Alisha Espinosa (as Tituba).

At the conclusion of each performance there will be a post-show forum delving into the themes of the play, the resolution of the play will happen in the forum, and are a trademark of Brooks' plays. Friday January 31 the theatre will hold the Opening Night Celebration with a free post-performance reception with the actors, staff, and director. Additionally on the 31st and February 7 the Culture Hacks, the Coterie comedy troupe, performs improve using audience suggestions after the show.

The Coterie Theatre, in its 35th Season, performs Afflicted: Daughters of Salem January 28 through February 23. Individual tickets are $10 for youth under 18, students, and seniors 60 and over. Adult tickets are $15 each.

New to ticketing this year is a preview rate of $5 per person for groups of 20 or more that would like to see the show during the first week of each run. After the preview week group rates go up to $5.50 on weekdays and $6.50 per person on weekends.

To encourage young adults and children to sample the performing arts the theatre offers Target Saturdays. The Target Department Stores sponsors the Saturday matinees. Patrons purchasing a full price admission for any Saturday matinee receives one free ticket. View restrictions for Target Saturdays on the Coterie Theatre website.

Photo by J. Robert Schraeder.

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Steve Wilson Steve Wilson is a professional writer, artist, and photographer living in the Kansas City metropolitan area. For the last two years, he has been writing theatrical reviews, covering more than a dozen theatrical companies in the area. Previously he has written comedy material for nationally known entertainers, taught comedy writing at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and has had two books published. He continues to write for an internet news service covering sports, travel, and art in the area.

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