BWW Des Moines Spotlight Series: Meet Audrey Kaus of STRIPPED at Theatre Midwest

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BWW Des Moines Spotlight Series: Meet Audrey Kaus of STRIPPED at Theatre Midwest
Audrey Kaus

Over the last few weeks, theatres across the United States have closed their doors due to the arrival of COVID-19. These closures include local theatres in Des Moines and the surrounding communities. Part of our goal with Broadwayworld is to promote and support our regional theatres. How do we do this with all theatres closed?

We've decided to start of series of spotlights. We hope to highlight artists, theatre companies, and other arts organizations and the impact that the closures have had on them. We start this coverage today with our first spotlight.

To start our coverage, we reached out to our Facebook family to see if any artists would be willing to answer a few questions. We were very excited to have Audrey Kaus agree to be our first spotlight.

DC Felton (DF): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?

Audrey Kaus (AK): I graduated from Simpson College in May 2019 with a major in Theatre. I took a gap year before going to college, so I was involved in the Des Moines community theatre scene around 2014-2015 performing at StageWest and the Des Moines Community Playhouse, then I primarily worked on productions at Simpson during my undergraduate career, and now my work that I am doing is currently with TheatreMidwest.

(DF): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?

(AK): I am currently involved in TheatreMidwest's second season and their Fresh Produce series (concert readings). We had been working hard on the reading of Stripped by Coleen O'Doherty for a few weeks or so when Covid-19 started to impact things in our world.

BWW Des Moines Spotlight Series: Meet Audrey Kaus of STRIPPED at Theatre Midwest
Audrey Kaus
The Cast of Theatre Midwest
production of "Hitlers Tasters"
Photo by Katie Privitera

(DF): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

(AK): Tom Woldt (Producing Artistic Director) and Katie Privitera (Associate Producer) were incredibly transparent with us for the whole thing. They met with the cast before the virus got really bad and discussed our traveling to Omaha for a performance of the show and said they were monitoring the situation closely because they wanted to keep us safe. Then about a week or so later, we got an email from Tom discussing the future performances of the season. Stripped has been postponed for the time being with kind of an uncertain timeline considering the uncertainty of the virus timeline. Tom and Katie continue to update the company on the standings of our productions via email and social media as things change.

(DF): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

(AK): Tom and Katie have made it very clear that TheatreMidwest still plans to perform Stripped with everyone involved in the show currently so long as they are able to with shifting timelines and such, which is very comforting to know as a performer!

(DF): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(AK): As of right now, I am not actively involved in future productions.

(DF): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(AK): I am keeping the arts alive at home by listening to and supporting others in the area if I can. I have also been making my family listen to different musicals every once in a while, to have some entertainment while working from home or cooking dinner. Recently my mom and I listened to the Beetlejuice soundtrack for the first time!

(DF): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the Des Moines Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(AK): This is all temporary, and I am so amazed at how well I have seen the theatre community handling things. We need to keep up the wonderful positivity and support during this time of need and continue this support well after things have blown over. It will take a lot of hard work, but I am confident that we can come out of this whole thing if we continue to be a supportive community!

BWW Des Moines Spotlight Series: Meet Audrey Kaus of STRIPPED at Theatre Midwest
Audrey Kaus
The Cast of Theatre Midwest
production of "Stripped"
Photo by Katie Privitera

(DF): Please feel free to add anything else you would like considered to be part of your article.

(AK): About Stripped by Coleen O'Doherty:

While working in a seedy strip club in Omaha, a troubled young woman juggles tragedy, personal demons, and her dysfunctional family. Why do women work in strip clubs? The answer is never what you think.

The Company

Cast:
Ashley Schaeffer, Regan
Karen Schaeffer, Anna
Kristin Gredys, Jess/Kara
Bryce Browning, Patrick
Audrey Kaus, Maggie
Madison Ray, Seth/Liam/Father Casey
Princess Alloway, Narrator

Production Team:
Katie Privitera, Associate Producer
Tiffany Flory, Director
Meghan Leckband, Stage Manager
Jen Ippensen, Dramaturg
Sariah Cheadle, Assistant to the Dramaturg
Erin Tracy, Communications

The mission and goals of TheatreMidwest:

Mission
Professionals creating works of relevance to the people of the Midwestern North America, with particular attention to the voices of women and other underrepresented groups.

Goals

TheatreMidwest strives to:
-Produce theatrical events of the highest quality.
-Connect with MidWestern communities with pertinent stories and storytelling.
-Lift up the voices, thoughts, artistry, and dreams of women and other underrepresented groups that speak to the MidWestern experience.
-Reduce barriers that prevent or discourage people from attending live performances.
-Sustain a strong cultural presence in our communities.

Thank you so much, Audrey, for taking the time to answer these questions and give a glimpse into "Stripped" by Colleen O'Doherty. We look forward to Theatre Midwest to be able to reopen and present this staged reading.

If you are an artist in Des Moines or the surrounding communities and would be willing to answer a few questions about how this shutdown has affected you, please reach out to us.

Interview by DC Felton
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