Casting call: KU Theatre needs black, Latino actors for two fall plays

Promotional image for Johanna:

In some roles, the actor could be any race. Others really require the real thing.

The latter is true for two of Kansas University Theatre’s fall plays, but with a limited pool of theater majors of color, directors are trying to reach a broader audience about casting calls, which start Monday.

“That’s something that we’re working on building in the theater department,” said Zach Sudbury, a theater doctoral student who’s directing one of the plays. “But we also encourage people from other disciplines to audition, and that’s partly why we’re getting the word out. … If somebody has that interest and fits the role and has the ability to stand on stage and perform, then we can work with them.”

Sudbury is directing “Detroit ’67,” by Dominique Morisseau (showing Oct. 2-8). Published in 2013 but set in the days leading up to the Detroit race riot, it was chosen for its “sharp,” fresh language and relevance to race issues happening now, Sudbury said.

The play needs two black women, two black men and one white woman. Since the play is directly about the issue of race, Sudbury said, “it is important to have people of color in those four roles and a white woman in the role for the white woman.”

The other play, “Johanna: Facing Forward,” is written and directed by Tlaloc Rivas (showing Oct. 16-25). It needs multiple Latino actors, including some who are bilingual, said Katherine Pryor, managing director for University Theatre. “We are looking for a very diverse cast for this show.”

“Johanna” is inspired by the true story of Johanna Orozco, a Cleveland teen who survived a gunshot wound to the face by her boyfriend in 2007, and the ensuing award-winning newspaper series on the story, “Facing Forward.” Pryor said the KU show would be only the second performance of “Johanna,” which, like “Detroit ’67,” she called a “really timely play.”

Open call auditions for all University Theatre fall productions are 7 to 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at Crafton-Preyer Theatre. Click here for more information or to sign up for an audition time.

Promotional image for Johanna: