Kevin Siess says his work as a west Lawrence Pizza Hut manager doesn't interfere with his involvement with local theater.
"I think the outlet for art in this town is awesome," Siess said. "It's great. I love walking downtown at night and hearing all of the different types of music playing everywhere you go."
Siess moved to Lawrence about 10 years ago, and he has become involved as an actor and producer with E.M.U. Theatre and "The Felt Show," an adult sketch comedy puppet group.
Where did you grow up? How did you end up in Lawrence?
I grew up in Tulsa, Okla., until I was about 10 years old, and then my family moved to Wichita. I graduated from Wichita East High School. I had lived in Wichita for about 10 years. Then I visited a friend in Lawrence about 10 years ago.
I just fell in love with Lawrence. It's just a great town, and I decided this is where I wanted to live, so I moved up here, and I've been here ever since.
What do you enjoy most about living in Lawrence?
I like that it's a small community with kind of big-city ideas. It's a small town, but it's not a rural town. Look at this. We've got this great arts center right in front of us.
How did you get started with E.M.U. Theatre?
I auditioned for my first play in 2002. I got a part and just fell in love with the company. I've been doing theater since I was a little kid. I did it through high school. It was really to find an outlet here in town.
E.M.U. is really very alternative. We do a lot of local work. You've got a lot of creativity, a lot of freedom to do what you'd like.
I do some acting, some public relations, and I'm on the board of directors. Our biggest show that we do every year is the "Ten-minute Play Festival," and that's usually when we get the most people. That will consist of like 30 to 40 people at that production.
What is E.M.U. Theatre's mission?
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We are just trying to help local writers and actors and directors come together and to have a creative outlet. We try not to hold too many restrictions to work.
Right now, we are doing what we are calling our "25th Sham-a-versary." It's a collection of our best local work that we've done throughout the years.
The reason we are calling it that is that last year in a show, we were misquoted in The Pitch that it was our 25th anniversary when it was actually our 25th show. The show will be Nov. 10 and Nov. 11 and Nov. 17 and Nov. 18 at the Lawrence Arts Center. We don't have audition dates yet.
Compare acting for a puppet show with being on stage.
With puppet shows, it's really different than theater. First, you don't have to have your lines memorized. You can have scripts. It's more physically demanding because you've got to keep your hands above your head for a long period of time. It's something that I was not prepared for at all.
Lived in Lawrence: 10 years
Job: A manager at Pizza Hut, 4651 W. Sixth St.
Other activities: Actor and member of the board of directors for E.M.U. Theatre in Lawrence; also an actor for "The Felt Show," a Lawrence puppet troupe.
Why do you enjoy acting so much?
It's always been an escape for me. It's always nice to deal with someone else's problems and tribulations other than your own sometimes. You can escape into another world. I've been doing it since I was a kid. I was playing pretend, and I guess I never grew up. I still like playing pretend.
What do you see as the most important issue facing Lawrence?
I hate the smoking ban in bars. I'm really upset that it never got to be put to a vote.
I'm worried about some of the expansion that's going on. I'm worried about Lawrence losing its downtown.