As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
Patricia A. McIlrath epitomized this belief when she became the first chair of the University of Kansas City’s (now University of Missouri-Kansas City) Department of Speech (which included theatre) in 1954 and when she founded the Missouri Repertory Theatre (later renamed Kansas City Repertory Theatre) in 1964.
In honor of McIlrath’s trailblazing spirit, UMKC Theatre and Kansas City Repertory Theatre are hosting their ninth annual Founder’s Day Celebration on Sunday, Jan. 25 at Grant Hall Theatre, 5228 Charlotte. The event will begin with light hors d’oeuvres at 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Douglas Enderle, who graduated from UMKC Theatre with a Master of Fine Arts in Theater Design and Technology in 1981, is the featured guest speaker for the celebration. Enderle will speak about the challenges McIlrath faced when founding the UMKC Theatre and the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, as well as her legacy – a theatre department nationally recognized for its professional training program and its association with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Enderle also will talk about how his UMKC education has influenced his career.
“I want to help the current class of students put into perspective the importance of the education and practical experience they are receiving at UMKC,” Enderle said. “I hope they can take away a spark to ignite their next interaction with wonderment.”
Enderle has designed for Walt Disney Entertainment, Costuming and Cosmetology since 1982. One of his highest achievements was his two-time nomination for the Emmy Award by the Academy of Television Art and Sciences. Douglas won the Emmy Award for Innovative Costume Design during the 1992-93 seasons for the ABC telecast of the “Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade.”
Other special guests include Eric Rosen, an award-winning playwright and artistic director of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre; Vincent Scassellati, a UMKC Theatre Professor Emeritus, who continues to design and wardrobe for Kansas City Costume Co.; and John Ezell, a Hall Family Foundation Professor of Design at UMKC.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Celebrating 75 years, UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.