Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

CHANGEMAKERS World Premiere Announced, Featuring 20 Original, Short Plays & Musicals Inspired by Community Leaders

Commissioned playwrights include Bill Russell, James Still, and Rodney Hicks.

CHANGEMAKERS World Premiere Announced, Featuring 20 Original, Short Plays & Musicals Inspired by Community Leaders

Now streaming online, Changemakers, a collection of 20 original, two-minute plays and musicals inspired by community leaders, activists, and front-line workers who have fought for change over the course of the past year. Changemakers explores our nation's most critical current events, told through a series of comic and dramatic vignettes created specifically for this moment. This collaborative work, written by commissioned playwrights working alongside students from University of Kansas, premiered this spring before a limited, in-person audience, and is now streaming, for free, on YouTube.

Changemakers was cowritten by members of the student cast in collaboration with 20 professional playwrights commissioned for this production. Commissioned playwrights include KU alumni, Tony-nominated librettist and lyricist Bill Russell (Side Show; Pageant; Elegies For Angels, Punks and Raging Queens) and Award winning and internationally produced playwright James Still (The Heavens Are Hung in Black, The Secret History of the Future); and Broadway actor and award-winning playwright Rodney Hicks (featured in Broadway's Come From Away, Rent, The Scottsboro Boys). This production is directed by University of Kansas' Markus Potter (off-Broadway's Stalking the Bogeyman, Church & State) and Darci Jens Fulcher (Goat in the Road Productions, New Orleans), with musical direction and live accompaniment by Ryan McCall (The Ballad of Lefty and Crabbe, Chicago Musical Theater Festival).

Faced with a season shut down by pandemic, the university's Department of Theatre & Dance considered how the moment could be a creative opportunity for students. 20 professional playwrights and composers were commissioned to collaborate with students to create a series of 20 original two-minute plays, with each play focusing on a primary character supported by an ensemble, and staged before a limited, live audience.

"Students started the process for Changemakers by creating documentary monologues from found pieces of text - social media, news interviews, articles, books - from social activists, local community leaders, front-line workers, politicians, or any inspiring individual who has fought for change," say Changemakers directors Markus Potter and Darci Jens Fulcher." Each student was paired with a professional playwright or composer who created a two-minute response piece, using the instincts and ideas of their student collaborator. Our goal as an ensemble was to create work that would examine the tragic, humorous, poignant, inspiring stories about isolation, human connection, and our quest for change; to brainstorm, reinvent, and imagine what is possible in the days and years ahead."

"Having the opportunity to work with a young artist for Changemakers, was an absolute joy," says Rodney Hicks, Broadway actor and commissioned Changemakers playwright. "It all started with an initial conversation where KU senior Gabrielle Smith shared her research. She displayed such an openness to the work created. Then to watch her and the entire KU ensemble soar when performing the work was profoundly moving. It was an honor to contribute in this way for the future of live theater and to support our next generation of artists in our world today."

The commissioned playwrights are Paris Crayton III, Sherri Eldin, Rodney Hicks, Stephen Kaplan, Aimé Donna Kelly, Leonard Madrid, Ryan McCall, David Don Miller, Lewis J. Morrow, Lori Elizabeth Parquet, Bill Russell, Tammy Ryan, Andrew Saito, SEVAN, Nandita Shenoy, Vera Starbard, James Still, chandra thomas, Sheri Wilner, and Michael Wysong.

The student cast, all of whom either collaborated with or inspired the original works, includes Kennedy Brandenburg, Tehreem Chaudhry, Haley Cogbill, Jeremiah G. Coleman, Ella Galbraith, Stella Rose Garibaldi, Cole Gomez- Maldonado, Petricia Hall, India MacDonald, Aubrey McGettrick, Elijah Olson, Katherine Patz, Chris Pendry, Diego Rivera-Rodriguez, Chloé Ryan, Gabrielle Smith, Lauren K. Smith, Mary Spencer, Kara Stobie, Kalen Stockton, and Asher Suski.

Changemakers' features a design team of University of Kansas students: scenic design by John Dylan Rohr; lighting design by Trevor Rodgers, and costume design by Nik Schrag.

Photo credit: Luke Jordan

Related Stories
Company of Fools to Present First Annual Virtual Play Festival THE DARE TO FAIL FEST Photo
Company of Fools will present its first annual virtual play festival. The Dare to Fail Fest! (DTFFest) is comprised of five 10-minute plays (out of over 50 submissions) selected by a CoF committee.

Meryl Streep & More Join Tonights A CELEBRATION OF JOHN GUARE Photo
On Monday, Feb 6, 2023, at 7:30 pm ET, 92NY will present A Celebration of John Guare both in person and online featuring Meryl Streep, Ariana DeBose and more. See how to purchase tickets!

Jaspal Binning, Almeria Campbell, Rema Webb & More Join Abingdon Theatre Companys Virt Photo
Abingdon Theatre Company has announced casting for their 3rd annual Virtual Festival of Short Plays; a festival set to shed light on stories written by BIPOC playwrights.

Jennifer Ehle, David Strathairn, Stephanie Berry & More to Star in PHEDRE Reading at R Photo
RED BULL THEATER has announced the cast for the next offering of a new season of OBIE Award-winning Revelation Readings: the in-person and streaming presentation of Phèdre by Jean Racine.

More Hot Stories For You

The Fled Collective to Present SERIALS, Season 2, Cycle 6 at The Flea This MonthThe Fled Collective to Present SERIALS, Season 2, Cycle 6 at The Flea This Month
February 5, 2023

SERIALS is a raucous night of serialized plays featuring The Fled's resident actors and some of NYC's hottest rising playwrights and directors. Teams perform original short episodic plays, while the audience votes for its favorites to return with a new installment. Cycle 6 of SERIALS performances will be in The Siggy at The Flea Theater on February 9-11, and February 23-25 at 9:00 pm.

FRIGID New York & Manhattan Theatre Source To Present 2023 EstroGenius Festival: BAN(NED) TOGETHERFRIGID New York & Manhattan Theatre Source To Present 2023 EstroGenius Festival: BAN(NED) TOGETHER
February 3, 2023

FRIGID New York and Manhattan Theatre Source will present the 2023 EstroGenius Festival: BAN(NED) TOGETHER, a festival celebrating femme artists, March 15 - April 2. 

February 3, 2023

Monet’s Garden The Immersive Experience U.S. premiere in New York City has announced another extension by popular demand through March 26, 2023.

New Off-Broadway-Bound Musical MADDIE Will Receive Developmental Reading This MarchNew Off-Broadway-Bound Musical MADDIE Will Receive Developmental Reading This March
February 3, 2023

Bennett Theatricals has announced a developmental reading for its new Off-Broadway bound musical, Maddie, which will have one afternoon presentation at Pearl Studios on Friday, March 10th at 2:00PM. Maddie played an acclaimed run at The Lyric Theatre in the West End and is based on the Jack Finney novel 'Marion's Wall' (adapted as the film 'Maxie’).

50th Anniversary Exhibition of Jamaican Artists Inspired By THE HARDER THEY COME to be Featured at The Public Theater50th Anniversary Exhibition of Jamaican Artists Inspired By THE HARDER THEY COME to be Featured at The Public Theater
February 2, 2023

Beginning on Thursday, February 16, theatergoers will be able to visit Wheel and Come Again: The 50th Anniversary Art Exhibition of The Harder They Come on The Public Theater’s Levin Mezzanine, an exhibition of art inspired by the original film.