UMKC Theatre season opens with double header

Lindsay Lillig

The University Theatre Association has prepared two entirely student-directed productions to kick off the 2014-15 UMKC Theatre season. The first production is of Neil LaBute’s “Reasons to Be Pretty,” directed by senior theatre student JoAnna Bledsoe.

“Neil LaBute writes how people really think, act, talk and reason,” Bledsoe said. “I chose to direct ‘Reasons to be Pretty’ because it gives us insight into how humans react and deal with issues that relate to romantic relationships.”

LaBute’s version of a romantic comedy does not fall into the traditional Hollywood definition.

“It gets down to the dirty and rough reality that many couples face in their relationships,” Bledsoe said. She said anyone can learn from the characters, and may relate to them more than anticipated. The cast includes students Steven Miles, Yasmeen Wilcox and alum John Van Winkle.

Showtime is 7:30 p.m. August 26-30 at in the Performing Arts Center, 116. Admission is free, though donations are welcome.

The second production is of Jean Paul Sarte’s “No Exit,” directed by senior theatre student Ethan Zogg. “No Exit” is performed in the windows of the Fishtank Theater curated by local theatre aficionado, Heidi Van.

“Hell is not what it’s supposed to be in Jean-Paul Sartre’s world of ‘No Exit,’” Zogg said.

When three recently deceased people meet in the afterlife, facades are stripped away. The differences between what one wants to believe and the harsh realities of a future existence make eternal rest a torturous endeavor.

“No matter how desperately you cling to illusions, the truth must be faced,” Zogg said. The cast includes students Anna Day, Marianne McKenzie and local actor Bradley Thomas.

Showtime is 8:30 p.m. August 26-30 at 1715 Wyandotte, near the Kauffman Center. Admission is $5-$15, with prices varying for artists, students and adults.