Director’s Note: A Spiritual Inheritance

By April 21, 2022 No Comments

We asked our Directing Team for The Inheritance to share their thoughts as they begin the monumental task of bringing its epic stories to life. Here is what Jeff Church, Director of Part 1, shared with us:

A Spiritual Inheritance

A cast of 12 men–plus one woman–who belong to (or allied with) the Kansas City LGBTQ community bring to life the first production of this astonishing epic work since Broadway, where it won the award for Best Play in 2021.

ara Krulwich/The New York Times

This Unicorn production is by the brilliant playwright, Matthew Lopez, whose Tony award speech acknowledged the late Terrence McNally as his “spiritual godfather”.  McNally wrote Love! Valour! Compassion!, and KC audiences saw that epic play at the Unicorn as well.  I was privileged to direct it and its featured actor, Terry O’Reagen – who, exactly 25 years later, is in this play!

Terrence McNally with Cynthia Levin at Unicorn Theatre’s production of Lips Together, Teeth Apart in 1993. Photo Courtesy of Unicorn Theatre.

The Cast of Love, Valor, Compassion (1997) at Unicorn Theatre. Photo by Cynthia Levin.

As a teen, Lopez is drawn to Howard’s End and maintains a fascination for the 1910 novel penned by gay author, EM (Morgan) Forster.  Lopez gets the idea to update, recast and reimagine the story with gay characters he draws from his personal world—noting it’s not to be a “summation” of recent queer history.  Fans of the novel and film will be handsomely rewarded with many parallels and correlations, yet by no means is it a prerequisite to know that plot to enjoy this plot.

Howard’s End by EM Forster.

What is the inheritance in The Inheritance?   Part of the fun for Unicorn audiences will be to find the ways this title holds meaning. It is not giving too much away to say there is a house with which our main characters hold strong opinions, that could lead to the house not finding its true spiritual owner.  Intrigued?

The cast of Unicorn Theatre’s The Inheritance. Photo by Cynthia Levin.

And how will this house inherit its gay history?   Will there be ghosts to go with it?  Do gay men have an inheritance from the past that is tangible—or is it impalpable, like a ghost or a play?  Have you, yourself, ever pondered: what inheritance have you meaningfully received?

Jeff Church, Director, The Inheritance, Part 1
April 2022

The Inheritance by Matthew López begins previews May 11, 2022 for Part 1 and May 18, 2022 for Part 2. Both parts will run in repertory through June 12, 2022. Visit unicorntheatre.org for a detailed calendar, tickets, and more information.