Arts News: Whim Productions Finds a Permanent Home

Whim Space at 415 Prospect has become a mainstay of the LGBTQ+ theater community. (courtesy of Kevin King)

A whim is an unexpected, unpredictable idea or inclination. Years in the making, the newly opened Whim Space at 415 Prospect has transcended its beginnings as a playwright and theater producer’s whim, to become a mainstay of the LGBTQ+ theater community.

“In addition to being home to Whim Productions, we’re creating space for art exhibitions, community meetings, and a safe space for queer organizations to gather,” said Whim producing artistic director Kevin King. “We’ll also host theater productions by other companies.”

“Whim is a fiscally sponsored organization and is supported through donors, ticket sales, space rentals, and grants,” King said. There will be rooms to rent for classes, rehearsals, meetings, workshops and even set construction.

Finding a suitable space took several years. The name grew out of King’s history.

“I started Whim Productions in 2011 literally on a whim,” said King, a veteran of Fringe Festival shows dating to 2010. “Since doing a show at Fringe in the first place was a whim (prompted by Steven Eubank, actor and artistic director of Egads Theatre Company), I chose that for the name.”

In 2014, King branched out and did his first non-Fringe show, “Flowers in the Wardrobe,” which Eubank directed. The next year he returned to Fringe and produced the first “Alphabet Soup, Theater from Queer Voices” short play showcase, the first time he produced something written by other people. Theater reviewer Vivian Kane applauded the showcase for fostering community and “allowing queer playwrights with varying levels of experience a chance to develop their work and their voices in a safe, supportive enthusiastic workshop setting . . .”

In 2016 “Alphabet Soup” was spun off into an annual stand-alone production (which recently had its 2023 run). At the time, Whim Productions was also presenting mainstage productions from submissions, as well as readings of unpublished and published plays on New Play Exchange. In 2019 an artistic committee, all queer-identifying people, was formed to administer the organization, which would present works solely by LGBTQ+ playwrights.

Since then, Whim has staged more than 20 productions, including Fringe shows at the Unicorn, the Fishtank, City Stage at Union Station and MTH. Non-Fringe shows have played at the Fishtank, Black Box, Arts Asylum, the Buffalo Room and Squeezebox. Most recently Whim Productions enjoyed a home base at Unity Temple on the Plaza.

Finding a permanent location marked the fulfillment of a dream.

Originally an Italian Christian Church, the 1931 building on Prospect Whim now calls home was most recently a United Christian Church but ceased operations during COVID. It’s a flexible space, with no specified stage, and it can be configured in various ways. For theater events, it will be a black box.

The grand opening, held in July, was “a wonderful and overwhelming evening,” said King, who was pleased with the feedback. “Audiences have been thrilled with the quality and comfort of the seating and the design touches throughout, especially the bathrooms.”

Following the opening, Whim played host to six rotating Fringe shows. In August the family-friendly “Playing on the Periphery: Monologues and Scenes for and about Queer Kids” by award-winning, Emmy-nominated Scott C. Sickles, took the stage in a world premiere.

“The LGBTQ community is under attack right now, politically, legislatively, and oftentimes physically,” Sickles has noted. He hopes his play “enables those who are trying to suppress and erase our community and its children to see us all as human.”

“Playing on the Periphery” was followed by “Boxed,” a “queer #metoo play” penned by King himself.

King is supported by a strong team, which includes artistic committee members Abigail Birkett, Bradley Meyer, Landan G. Stocker, Kyle Tichenor and Austin VanWinkle, all experienced theater makers.

For more information, visit whimproductions.org.

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith is an impassioned supporter of local performances of all types, who welcomes the  opportunity to promote them to KC Studio readers.

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