October 17, 2023
Theatre students visit New York City to engage with Broadway director Thomas Kail
Six dedicated and talented students from Kansas State University's theatre and drama therapy graduate program engaged in conversation with renowned Broadway director Thomas Kail on Oct. 13.
The discussion revolved around the delicate balance between an artist's well-being and their professional life, showcasing these students as not only dreamers but also well-prepared talents for the future.
Kail's Broadway career is renowned, marked by successful productions like "Hamilton," "In the Heights" and "Sweeney Todd." His connection with these students is not coincidental; he shares a deep bond with K-State alumnus and Broadway playwright Nathan Louis Jackson. Sadly, Jackson died in August at the age of 44, leaving a void in the world of theatre. Two of his plays, "Broke-ology" and "When I Come To Die," were featured at Lincoln Center and were directed by Kail.
Also joining the discussion was Francois Battiste, one of the original actors in Jackson's "Broke-ology" and currently in previews for "Here We Are," the world premiere of the final musical by composer Stephen Sondheim. Kail's collaboration with Jackson, a talented writer and K-State alumnus, played a pivotal role in bringing him into this enlightening conversation. This connection was facilitated by David Mackay, associate director of the theatre program at K-State.
Jackson, an active member of K-State's Ebony Theatre, left behind a legacy that continues to influence the theater community. Current students Nikéla Reed and McKenna Moten, both active members of the same theater group, carried forward his commitment and passion. Their participation in the conversation with Kail signifies the impact of Jackson's work and the continuation of his legacy. A memorial for Jackson was held at Kansas City Repertory on Oct. 14.
These theater majors and master's students also attended the play "Helen" in New York City, an opportunity sponsored by Art DeGroat, K-State's executive director of military and veterans affairs, and Anne Hamburger, executive artistic director of Engarde Arts in New York City.