Cynthia Hardeman, a senior at UMKC, is getting a taste of success with her first play, “Truth Stands,” receiving a world premiere at the Coppin State Repertory Stage.
Hardeman was always interested in theater, but had never explored the writing side before.
“This just opened a whole new world of theater for me,” Hardeman said.
It started with an introductory theater class at UMKC.
“My teacher suggested I take a playwriting class,” Hardeman said. “I did, and wrote a play and, boom, that’s the play that’s being produced.”
Coppin State University in Baltimore produced the show as well as submitted it to the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival competition.
“I got the idea I wanted to write something that was young and relevant to younger people interested in the theatre,” Hardeman said.
Hardeman is influenced by many different experiences in her own life and the people around her.
“I was actually talking to my cousin about his brother,” Hardeman said. “They didn’t grow up together and they led, like, completely opposite lives and they were being reintroduced to each other.”
Hardeman used that idea as a foundation for her play “Truth Hurts,” which is based on two brothers, raised apart, meeting each other much later and figuring out how to interact. Hardeman said the show focuses on, “how they find that common denominator is music in their lives that connect them even though they are like on opposite ends of the spectrum.”
Hardeman wrote the play in class, and her professor, Frank Higgins, recommended that she submit it to a workshop.
“I was one of six finalists who made it to this workshop, workshopping the play with artists, directors and producers from all over the country,” Hardeman said. “After that it ended in a concert reading of the play and at the concert reading was the artistic director from Coppin State University and he wanted to work it some more and give it a full production.”
Hardeman has yet to write another full length show, but she has been keeping busy writing a short play and trying to finish up her degree in Spanish.
Hardeman was also awarded the winner of the 2012 Project Playwrights 2.0 Competition, after competing in rounds with five other Kansas City playwrights.
“[The competition takes place] in two weekends where you stay up all night after being given a prompt for a two-character play,” Hardeman said.
Hardeman currently works as a parent education specialist for the state of Missouri.
“I work with foster kids and their parents,” Hardeman said. “I began to get quite a bit of Spanish-speaking clients. I know how to speak Spanish through my experience with the military, but I wanted to learn formally. I wanted to be better.”
To improve her ability to communicate with clients, Hardeman went back to school for a degree in Spanish.
“I still work with Spanish-speaking clients,” Hardeman said. “I still plan on doing both until writing for the theater can support me. “
Hardeman served in the Air Force seven years, stationed all around the world, travelling and experiencing different cultures and countries.
“Definitely having had all of these experiences allow me to tell a varied amount of stories,” Hardeman said. “It gives some depth to the characters I write about. Not only am I able to tell the story from a youth’s point of view as I work and talk with youths, but also from a parent’s perspective and from a society’s perspective.”
Hardeman has many inspirations, but cited two as the major influences and interests that drive her work: young people and music.
“There’s sort of a connection to them for me,” Hardeman said. “I’m always driven by trying to create a community or a place for young people to have a voice, to facilitate empowerment or hope.
“[Writing is] trying to make a difference for at least one person. If my story is able to reach at least one person I’ve done my job,” Hardeman said.
“Truth Stands” has also been picked up by new theater group KC Melting Pot to be produced at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City. The show will open their 2015 season.
Hardeman also gave a shout out to Higgins.
“He’s been instrumental in making the connections I need to make outside in the real world, in the real working world of theater,” Hardeman said. “His advice has been invaluable.”