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MSU Theatre & Dance produces two labor union-inspired dramas

Missouri State University Department of Theatre & Dance
Clifford Odet's 1930s drama "Waiting For Lefty" is one of two labor-related plays being performed by the Missouri State University Theatre & Dance Department now through next Thursday.

A talk with Dr. Kyle A. Thomas, director of one of the two dramas playing the next several days in repertory in Craig Hall Balcony Theatre.

The Missouri State University Theatre & Dance Department presents two drama productions the first two weeks of March, both dealing with labor unions vs. management: "Sweat" by Lynn Nottage, directed by Kristy Thomas, in the Craig Hall Balcony Theatre Sunday, March 5th at 2:30 p.m., and Monday, March 6 and Thursday, March 9 both at 7:30 p.m. Alternating with "Sweat" in the Balcony Theatre is "Waiting for Lefty" by Clifford Odets, directed by Dr. Kyle A. Thomas, an assistant professor of theatre and dance. It's based on the New York Taxi Strike of 1934. It's sold out tonight, but there are two more performances, Tuesday and Wednesday, March 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m.

As Dr. Thomas explains, "In the past we've usually just done one show at a time throughout the academic year. But we decided a year or two ago that we should do more shows (to) give our students more opportunities."

Due to lack of space, the decision was made to perform two shows "in repertory," meaning that they run during the same time period, on alternate days. He says none of the students is performing in both shows, but some tech-crew members and designers are working both.

"We chose ('Waiting for Lefty') because it's topical," says Dr. Thomas. "There are a lot of things going on in our world right now pertaining to unions and how those unions are treated in relation to the companies that they're associated with."

Tickets for either show are $12 and $14. For information, call the MSU box office at 417-836-7678 or visit

Listen to my interview with Dr. Thomas from this morning's "Arts News" to find out about Lefty, Harry Fatt, the definition of "agit-prop theater," and why "fever dreams" seem to be important for artists.

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning Arts News. Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's Ozzie Award in 2006.