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Nicole Hodges Persley is the Associate Artistic Director of the KC Meltingpot Theatre. She is a transplant to Kansas City from Los Angeles, California. Hodges Persley has directed shows at renown venues including P.S. 122 in New York, Highways Performance Space in Los Angeles and now Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City. Her local directing credits include critically acclaimed productions of A Raisin in the Sun, Welcome to Arroyo’s, Sister Cities, and A Comedy of Sorrows. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre at The University of Kansas with a forthcoming book in 2017 on Hip-hop Theater entitled Sampling and Remixing Hip-hop in Contemporary Theater and Performance. Please join us in November 2016 for her production of Angelina Grimke’s Rachel and in February 2017 for Leroi Jones’ The Dutchman.

Nicole Hodges Persley - Director Closed Feb. 21, 2015 View Cast | View Crew Closed Sept. 26, 2015 View Cast | View Crew Closed June 27, 2015 View Cast | View Crew Closed Aug. 29, 2015 View Cast | View Crew Closed Jan. 31, 2015 View Cast | View Crew Closed Dec. 19 2015 View Cast | View Crew Closed April 16, 2016 View Cast | View Crew Closed Sept. 10, 2016 View Cast | View Crew

Warren Deckert, Technical Director/Designer -- Warren’s 45 years of theatre experience include being the Artistic/Technical Director for Great Bend Community Theatre, technical director/designer for the Bethel College Drama Department and union membership in I.A.T.S.E., Local 190, Wichita, KS. He has designed the lighting and/or sets for over 170 productions. Currently he is an assistant house manager for Kansas City Repertory Theatre, the resident technical director/designer for KC MeltingPot Theatre and technical director for Just Off Broadway Theatre. In Kansas City he has directed Bernice At Bay/The Butterfly Effect, Gidion’s Knot, and “Sue Aside...” (KC Fringe Festival), Waiting To Be Invited and The Taste Test (co-productions with KC MeltingPot).

Warren Deckert, Technical Director/Designer

Laura Burt is excited to be working with Melting Pot Theatre as a stage manager. In the past she has worked with Billy Blob (2016 Fringe Festival), Tradewind Arts, Relevance Productions, Olathe Civic Theatre Association and Theatrikos Theatre Company. She also has been on stage around town at City Theatre of Independence, OCTA, and The Barn Players. Some of her favorite shows that she was a part of are Dinner with Friends (stage manager), Extremities (stage manager), and Noises Off (Poppy).

Laura Burt, Stage Manager

Anna Oakley, is thrilled to be working with the KC MeltingPot family on Rachel! She works as an actor, assistant stage manager, and production assistant throughout KC and received her BA in Theatre Performance from the University of Missouri - Kansas City. She has a passion for connecting students with the theatre and has had an incredible time watching the talented youth cast of Rachel grow and find their voices throughout the process. Anna also serves as a Co-Director of Education and Community Programs with KCMPT.

Anna Oakley - Assistant Stage Manager

Rana Esfandiary is currently a Ph. D. student at the university of Kansas Department of Theater. She holds an MFA degree in Scenography from the University of Kansas (2013) and has designed set, lighting and costumes for shows such as Summer and Smoke by Tennessee Williams, Adding Machine by Jason Loewith and Joshua Schmidt, Noah’s Art by Nathan Tysen and Ryan McCall and The mousetrap by Agetha Christie. Rana has served as Assistant Director on several of Dr. Hodges Persely’s productions including A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry and Welcome to Arroyo’s by Kristoffer Diaz. Rana is from Tehran, Iran.

Rana Esfandiary – Assistant Director

David Ruis, is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Kansas in the Department of Theatre. He holds a MA degree in Theatre History and Dramaturgy from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a BFA in Theatre from Stephens College in Columbia, MO. At UMKC, he was the dramaturg for the Shakespeare Intensive (2014) and The Rocky Horror Show (2015). At KU, he was dramaturg for this fall’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s Late, a Cowboy Song. Across the Kansas City area, he has acted on stage at the Coterie Theatre, Missouri Repertory Theatre (now Kansas City Repertory Theatre), Theatre for Young America, and the Unicorn Theatre.

David Ruis – Dramaturge Buy tickets
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Angelina Grimke’s anti-lynching play Rachel is one of the first plays written by an African American woman to be produced for the stage. Produced by the NAACP in March 1916 and published in 1920, Rachel tells the story of Rachel Loving, a hopeful young woman coming of age who imagines a life helping others and raising a family. Rachel’s life is never the same after she discovers the devastating effects of racism on the children she cares for and the truth about the deaths of her late father and brother.

Rachel Shawna Downing - Rachel Loving

Shawna Downing, As a professional performance artist, Shawna has worked with a variety of prominent KC theatre companies: the Coterie Theatre, KC Melting Pot Theatre, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Theatre for Young America, & Egads! Theatre Company.

Shawna is a teaching artist with the Coterie Theatre and the KC Black Repertory Theatre; as well as a peer educator with the Dramatic Health Education Project. She’s a co-director of education & community programs with KC Melting Pot Theatre and is signed with Exposure Model and Talent agency.

Shawna loves to spend her time, energy and free spirit being an educator, laughing, eating and giving back. She lives to create and perform quality work that has the ability to inspire, entertain and educate.

She would like to thank Nicole, Linda, and Harvey for the guidance, and her friends and family for their love and support. 

You may recognize shawna from:

Truth Stands

Waiting to be Invited

The Wiz

Aishah Ogbeh - Mrs. Lane

Aishah Ogbeh (Reatha) – is a student at UMKC, studying Theatre and Black Studies. She has performed in quite a few plays such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Titania, Seven Guitars as Louise, The Cover of Life as Sybil, A Letter to the Black as Chanel, Echoes of Octavia as Octavia, and The Wizard of Oz as The Wicked Witch of the West.

Aishah plans to move to California after graduating to fulfill her destiny of being a phenomenal actress and role model.

You may recognize Aishah from:

The Wizard of Oz

Echoes of Octavia

Seven Guitars

Lewis Morrow - Tom Loving

Lewis Morrow, is a native of Kansas City, KS who has written and appeared in one-off productions since 2013, most recently "Between Us" in March of this year. He is extremely excited to share the stage with this talented cast in a play with such a rich history and enduring relevance. Lewis would especially like to think Mr. And Mrs. Williams and KC Melting Pot for this incredible opportunity as well as those who have continued to support his acting and writing endeavors.

You may recognize Lewis from:

Between Us

Sam Salary - John Strong

Sam Salary, is a Kansas City native, who found his love for theatre performing in church plays at an early age. His love for theatre and acting followed him to the stages of state fair community collage as well as north west Missouri state university. Sam made his professional debut at the unicorn theatre in 2014 in the production of Hands on a hardbody. Since then he has been in August Wilson Jitney at the Kansas City metropolitan theatre, the Christmas carol at the Kansas City repertory theater as well as a goat song at the Westport Center of the Arts, Parade at the MET, he was also apart of the first production put on by the black repertory theater dream girls in concert. Sam Salary would like to thank the Kansas City Melting Pot theatre for allowing to him to continue to express his love for the art.

You may recognize Sam from:

Hands on a Hardbody


A Goat Song

Lynn King - Mrs. Loving

Lynn King is a proud Kansas City native and has appeared onstage for Theatre for Young America, InPlay Theatre Co., Coterie Theatre, New Theatre Restaurant, KC Repertory Theatre, The Unicorn Theatre, JCCC and UMKC Theatre Depts. (her alma mater), and with the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre. She has previously performed with KC MeltingPot in productions of The Session, Waiting To Be Invited, Old School Ghetto Gospel, and JFK - A Ghostly Evening. Lynn is proud to have been honored with a Best in KC award for acting and has appeared in several film projects including the recently released JAYHAWKERS directed by Kevin Willmott.

A special thanks to Nicole, Harvey, Linda and this incredibly talented cast. Thanks too, to Dennis and to my family for their love and support. Lynn feels truly blessed and deeply grateful for the opportunity to do what she loves most.

You may recognize Lynn from:

Old School Ghetto Gospel

JFK - A Ghostly Evening

The Session

Arianna Craig – Nancy

Arianna Craig, is a 4th grader at Laurel Hills Elementary. She enjoys acting, dancing, interviewing and public speaking. Arianna has been in performances of Tribulation Christmas at Sheffield Family Life Center. She would like to thank her Mom, Dad, Nana’s Papa and sisters for supporting and encouraging her.

You may recognize Arianna from:

Tribulation Christmas

Haley James – Martha

Haley James, is a 2nd grader at Brookside Charter. She enjoys reading, writing, singing and dancing. Haley has been in performances for Hip Hop Dance and the improve play of Maleficent. She would like to thank her big sister Hannah, her parents and grandparents for encouraging and inspiring her to express her creativity and joy through acting, dancing and singing.

You may recognize haley from:

Improve Play Of Maleficent

Hannah James – Ethel

Hannah James, is a 6th grader at Brookside Charter. She enjoys all types of sports, dancing, singing and acting. Hanna has been in performances for Hip Hop Dance competitions nationally and locally. She would like to thank her parents and grandparents for helping her strive for excellence in every area of life. A special thanks to her little sister for always keeping life interesting.

You may recognize hannah from:

Hip Hop Dance Competitions

Madden Eugene Tanner – Jimmy (Understudy)

Madden Eugene Tanner, is a 2nd grader at University Academy. Madden enjoys reading and facilitates a boys book club, R.O.Y.A.L.E (Reach Outgoing Youth Accelerate Literacy Enthusiasm). He has been in performances for Males to Men and the KC Library. He would like to thank the community for their love and support.

You may recognize Madden from:

Males to Men

Prince-Davynn Donnell – Jimmy

Prince-Davynn Donnell, is a 2nd grader at Delaware Ridge Elementary. He enjoys football, basketball, baseball and soccer as well as being on the student leader council for 3 years. He has also been an anchorman on Braves Nation Network (BNN) for 2 years. I would like to thank my cousin Cynthia with Dramatime for giving me this opportunity, my parents, grandparents and family for always encouraging me to do whatever I put my mind to.

You may recognize Prince-Davynn from:

Braves Nation Network (BNN)

Reina Tucker – Jenny

Reina Tucker, is a 2nd grader at University Academy. She enjoys singing, dancing, acting and being a child. This is Reina’s debut stage performance. She is currently attending LoveJoy’s Dramatime classes and will be appearing in The Fox and The Hound. She looks forward to being in many more productions. Reina would like to thank KC MeltingPot and all the Rachel crew for this great experience. Look forward to seeing her in the future!

You can catch reina in:

The Fox and The Hound