Olathe Civic Theatre Association | New Works Playwright Competition Winner Workshop Comes to OCTA
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New Works Playwright Competition Winner Workshop Comes to OCTA

12 Jul New Works Playwright Competition Winner Workshop Comes to OCTA

Full-Length Staged Reading of Jessie Salsbury’s ADOPTION OF GRIEF – July 13 and 14

Jessie Salsbury with her director and cast from the March finals, and Competition host Andrew Joseph Brown when she was announced as the 2018 winner.  March 2018 (Photo by Rita Marks).

Olathe Civic Theatre Association will hold the Winner Workshop for its second New Works Playwright Competition. With this initiative, OCTA invited local playwrights to submit teasers of scripts and the top five were performed script-in-hand during the March finals. Now, the winning playwright, Jessie Salsbury, gets a full-length workshop reading of her play ADOPTION OF GRIEF, July 13 and 14.

Playwright Jessie Salsbury and director Jo Bledsoe Collins bring together the following local artists: Denise Saylor (Amanda), Peter Leondedis (Ronald), Rochelle Petway (Myreen), Ted Collins (Ward), Yasmeen Wilcox (Desiree), Sheridan Mirador (Chad), and Jeannie Blau (Stage Directions). See bios and headshots of the Workshop cast and team on OCTA’s Facebook Page.

Looking back on the competition, playwright Andrew Joseph Brown reflects on his involvement: “Our second year of going through this process showed us that there is even more local talent to find. We got to see teasers of edgy plays, our first musical, historically influenced stories, and family-centered stories. Each was strong, and I can’t wait to see what happens next for the characters in the Winner Workshop.”

Jessie was drawn to OCTA’s competition through her friend, Michelle Tyrene Johnson, last year’s winner. Of her own play, ADOPTION OF GRIEF, she says, “My son asked questions about his history, so I took those ‘what-ifs’, and tensions around interracial adoption, and built a story.” Additionally, Jessie is thrilled OCTA supports new works and is producing a full-length play next season by Michelle Tyrene Johnson (PASS OVER), who she calls a future Pulitzer Prize-winner. “Playwriting is this magical thing where you write the drafts by yourself but you absolutely cannot finish it without help. Questions the actors, director, and audience ask, or their reactions, help the play build to the next draft.” Jessie further comments how “Theatre is an art that you can NEVER do alone, which why it’s my favorite art form.”

Speaking about her work in ADOPTION OF GRIEF, Jessie explains that all her plays purposely have women protagonists, but this one deals with interracial adoption. The March teaser left audiences wondering about the death of Desiree’s sister, Cherise, which reveals the shocking news that she secretly gave up her son for adoption to a woman named Amanda. It is interesting, Jessie divulges, because “now she leaves notes that she wants Amanda to take her other two children. Desiree confronts Amanda at Amanda’s home about her nephew and nieces, and Cherise’s dying wishes for her to take all the children. Desiree is further grieved because her family and nieces are black, and Amanda’s family is white. Chad, the nephew adopted in secret years before, is biracial.”  Check out a teaser video with cuts from the script here.

Currently, Jessie is writing a full-length version of ROUTE 84 HOUSE FIRE, based on her childhood experiences, as well as THE TATTOOED QUILT, about a tattoo parlor that removes neo-Nazi tattoos in an alternative time period where any sign of racism is a severely punishable crime.

To attend the New Works Playwright Competition Winner Workshop, visit OCTA either Friday, July 13, or Saturday, July 14 at 8pm. Saturday night audiences will be treated to a post-show talkback with Jessie Salsbury, hosted by Kansas City playwright David Hanson.

Ticket information can be found at www.olathetheatre.org. Regular ticket price is $10 (online or at the door). OCTA season ticket members receive a discounted price of $5 (at the door only, but can reserve in advance by writing tickets@olathetheatre.org or calling 913-782-2990).


Olathe Civic Theatre Association is a 501c3 organization producing theatre in Olathe since 1974. Performing in the Buddy Rogers Family Playhouse, OCTA produces five high-quality, engaging, and thought-provoking theatre productions a year. Through the generosity of volunteers, season ticket holders, donors, and the City of Olathe, OCTA has grown into one of the most progressive community theaters in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Receive daily updates by ‘liking’ OCTA’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/olathecivictheatre and follow OCTA on Twitter at @OCTATheatre.


The Drowsy Chaperone
Sept 7 – Sept 23, 2018
Music & Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison
Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar
Directed by Julie Ewing | Music Direction by Kevin Bogan

An epic “musical within a comedy”, this brilliantly funny Tony Award-winner is a celebration of the American musical that harkens back to the jazz age of the 1920s. When a loyal fan shares a rare recording of his favorite musical, the characters come to life in an exciting tale of love and delight that leaves audiences breathless. A wedding, gangsters disguised as pastry chefs, and a drunk chaperone are just a few of the ingredients in this delicious farcical treat that is fun for the whole family.

Sense and Sensibility
Nov 2 – Nov 18, 2018
An adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel
By Jon Jory
Directed by Jessica Franz

In this witty comedy of manners, two sisters who are alike only in their pursuit of happiness find themselves financially destitute and socially vulnerable after their father’s sudden death. Will Elinor’s common sense or Marianne’s impulsive passion offer up the key to living “happily ever after”? Expect the unexpected as this spirited tale of flirtation and folly bounds onto the OCTA stage in this boisterous adaptation of one of Austen’s beloved stories.

Sunday in the Park with George
Feb 8 – Feb 24, 2019
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim | Book by James Lapine
Directed by Tiffany Schweigert

A blank page or canvas. So many possibilities. A moving study of the enigmatic artist Georges Seurat and his famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, this stunning musical merges past and present into beautiful and poignant truths about life, love, and the creation of art. Winner of the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for drama and nominated for an astounding ten Tony Awards, this masterpiece by the legendary team of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine will inspire you long after you leave the theatre.

Pass Over
Apr 5 – Apr 21, 2019
By Kansas City playwright Michelle Tyrene Johnson*
Directed by Teresa Leggard

The Washingtons, an African-American family, have lived next door to the Levy family in a Philadelphia neighborhood for a few generations. In the wake of the death of the Washington family matriarch, a brother and sister come together to bury their beloved grandmother. The finding of old stock, by the Washington family, in the Levy family business, triggers the revelation of secrets, tensions, and reckonings.

*Michelle Tyrene Johnson, author of Pass Over, was the winner of Olathe Civic Theatre Association’s inaugural New Works Playwright Competition for her play The Green Book Wine Club Train Trip in 2017.

A Flea in Her Ear
May 31 – June 16, 2019
A new version of Georges Feydeau’s farce
By David Ives
Directed by David Martin

As Raymonde suspects her suddenly uninterested husband is having an affair, she cooks up a trap to catch him in the act. Hilarity ensues as everything inevitably goes horribly wrong triggering laughs galore. Touted as the “greatest of French farces”, this dazzling comedy, and winner of the 2006 Jefferson Award for best adaptation, David Ives’ version of Georges Feydeau’s masterpiece achieves levels of glorious ridiculousness only an absurdist of Ives’ caliber can bring.


Please direct all media inquiries to: Charlotte Gilman at 913-484-1651 (cell) or asgcroc@aol.com.
For further information or tickets, please visit our website at www.olathetheatre.org.
Reservations can be made by calling the reservation hotline at 913-782-2990 or by writing tickets@olathetheatre.org.

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