Unicorn Theatre Launches NNPN Rolling World Premiere 0f Women Playing Hamlet on March 4th

Mar 5, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC - Women Playing Hamlet by William Missouri Downs, will begin its National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere at Unicorn Theatre (Kansas City, MO).  The play - as per the guidelines of NNPN’s Rolling World Premiere program, which supports its member theaters’ production of new works - will receive three entirely separate productions within a twelve month period with the playwright continuing the development of the script as it moves across the country.

The Kansas City production is directed by Cynthia Levin and will run from March 4 - March 29, 2015. 

The play’s NNPN Rolling World Premiere will continue with productions at NNPN Associate Member Gamut Theatre (Harrisburg, PA) and Core Member New Theatre (Miami, FL). These productions will run March 13 – 26 in Harrisburg and April 2 – 16 in Miami.  

The playwright has been with the production during rehearsals in Kansas City, and will be in attendance at Unicorn Theatre for the Opening.  He will also travel to the other theaters as he continues refine the play.


Women Playing Hamlet is a comedy about the tragedy of modern life. Four women play twenty roles (including all the male roles) in this comedy about Jessica, an actress from Minnesota who has been cast to play Hamlet in New York. After accidentally interrupting a production of Hamlet starring Patrick Stewart, Jessica think Mr. Stewart is stalking her and she faces an uphill battle through a maze of self-important humanities professors, Freudian psychiatrists, and a Minnesota mother. The search for identity is the theme as Jessica takes on her emotional baggage and existential overload, as well as her self-doubt and disdain for Danish fondue.


After earning an MFA in acting from the University of Illinois and an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA, Bill wrote for several NBC television shows and sold/optioned movies to Imagine and Filmways. Bill’s first love was always the theatre so he left Hollywood, moved to Wyoming and began writing plays. He was a finalist at the Eugene O’Neill, won two Rolling Premieres from the National New Play Network, and published seven plays with Samuel French, Playscripts and other publishers. In addition he has won a dozen writing awards and published four books on the art of theatre. His plays have been produced by Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, the Wisdom Bridge Theatre in Chicago, the New York City Fringe Festival, The InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia, The San Diego Rep, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Salt Lake City Acting Company, the Actors Theatre of Charlotte, the International Theatre Festival in Israel, the Stadt Theater Walfischgasse in Austria, the Detroit Rep, the Durban Performing Arts Center in South Africa, and over 100 other theatres worldwide. 


Unicorn Theatre, a founding member of NNPN, enhances Kansas City by developing and producing professional, provocative new plays, and creating opportunities for the advancement of emerging and established actors, directors, playwrights, designers, and the theatre’s technicians and administrative staff. With over 300 plays produced, Women Playing Hamlet will be Unicorn Theatre’s 60th World Premiere and will be presented as part of Unicorn’s 41st Season.  Artistic Director Cynthia Levin, who has been with the theatre for 35 years, will direct the production. www.unicorntheatre.org


Gamut Theatre is the combined company of Popcorn Hat Players Children’s Theatre and Harrisburg Shakespeare Company. Its mission is to tell classic stories in new and exciting ways for the entertainment and enlightenment of children and adults alike. Over the company’s 21 year history, Gamut has been recognized by the press and the public for the quality of its productions, the breadth of our programs, its reach into all segments of the community, and its ability to keep classic stories relevant and alive. Gamut is a member organization of the Shakespeare Theatre Association, Theatre Communications Group, and an Associate Member of the National New Play Network. www.gamuttheatre.org


New Theatre is a multi-cultural theatre producing a season blending classics and new works, which speak to and about a diverse contemporary audience by stimulating, provoking, challenging, and entertaining. New Theatre has flourished under the energetic Artistic Direction of Ricky J. Martinez and Managing Director Eileen Suarez, refining its focus on works which speak of social/religious/humanistic interests, relevant issues of discrimination based on race, gender and sexual orientation, the immigrant's plight, the role of youth in our community, and for stories from the heart and for the soul which celebrate the mosaic that makes up our South Florida community. New Theatre, now in its 29th Season and resident in Cutler Bay, FL’s South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, is a Core Member of NNPN. new-theatre.org


The National New Play Network (NNPN) is the country’s alliance of non-profit professional theaters dedicated to the development, production, and continued life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has supported more than 150 productions nationwide through its innovative National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere program, which provides playwright and production support for new works.  Additional programs - its annual National Conference, National Showcase of New Plays, and MFA Playwrights Workshop; the NNPN Annual and Smith Prize commissions; its residencies for playwrights, producers and directors; and the organization’s member accessed and online information sessions and Collaboration, Festival, and Travel banks - have helped cement the Network’s position as a vital force in the regional theater landscape. NNPN's programming allows its members and their affiliated artists to create, grow, and share new work across the country and around the world, and it strives to pioneer, implement, and disseminate ideas and programs that revolutionize the way theaters collaborate to support new plays and playwrights. NNPN’s most recent project, The New Play Exchange (www.newplayexchange.org), launched in January of 2015, is already changing the way playwrights share their work and others discover it. NNPN’s 29 Core and more than 60 Associate and University Members - along with the more than 250 alumni playwrights and producers, the thousands of artists and artisans employed annually by its member theaters, and the hundreds of thousands of audience members who see its supported works each year - are creating the new American theater.  For more information please visit www.nnpn.org.

NNPN’s Core Member theaters are: Actor’s Express Theatre (Atlanta), Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte (Charlotte, NC), Borderlands Theater (Tucson), Cleveland Public Theatre (Cleveland, OH), Contemporary American Theater Festival (Shepherdstown, WV), Curious Theatre Company (Denver), Florida Studio Theatre (Sarasota), Fountain Theatre (LA), Horizon Theatre Company (Atlanta), InterAct Theatre Company (Philadelphia), Kitchen Dog Theater (Dallas), Magic Theatre (San Francisco), Marin Theatre Company (Mill Valley, CA), Milagro (Portland, OR), Mixed Blood Theatre Company (Minneapolis), New Jersey Repertory Company (Long Branch), New Repertory Theatre (Watertown, MA), New Theatre (Coral Gables, FL), Orlando Shakespeare Theater (Orlando), Performance Network Theatre (Ann Arbor, MI), Phoenix Theatre (Indianapolis), Playwright’s Theatre of New Jersey (Madison), Prop Thtr Group (Chicago), Riverside Theatre (Iowa City, IA), Salt Lake Acting Company (Salt Lake City), San Diego REPertory Theatre (San Diego), Southern Rep (New Orleans), Unicorn Theatre (Kansas City, MO), and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Washington, DC).

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