Big News from Lanny

Dear Friend of Festival Playhouse,

While we typically send our Festival Playhouse newsletter at the end of most weeks, sometimes we have news that is best shared separately.  Such is the case here, and, allow me to share our Guest Artist lineup for the remainder of our season and remind us of our 58th Festival Playhouse Season.

Guest Artists for Festival Playhouse

In Winter, Janai Lashon will be guest directing BLACKS+PHATS by Kevin Renn.  Kevin will be joining us for a one-week guest residency during our final production week, attending Senior Seminar, and being our host facilitator for our opening night talkback, as well as meeting with student groups and coordinating with ARCUS.  That’s right, the playwright will be here with us, and Janai will also be visiting Senior Seminar as well as working with our students.

Janai Lashon is a thespian, poet, teaching artist & activist. She has intentionally crafted her work to share a variety of experiences and stories from underrepresented and marginalized communities. Her overall vision is to continue her craft at a professional level of mastery, working with creativity and activism to provide transformative experiences. 

Kevin Renn writes plays that challenge minds and tickle comfort zones from his small, overpriced apartment in Manhattan.  Recently Kevin was the featured masterclass guest for Blacklight Community’s Spark Seminars.    ‘BLACKS+PHATS‘ is a satirical, vignette play about black cultural issues, body image, fetishism, and their representation in modern society.

Also in Winter, Festival Playhouse will be producing and providing free to our greater Kalamazoo Community a capstone celebration MLK Week event – Dwandra Lampkin’s The Conviction of Lady Lorraine and will be directed by Dee Dee Batteast.  Dwandra Lampkin will do a one week residency with us, will be meeting with our Senior Seminar students, and we are offering The Conviction of Lady Lorraine to our greater community in celebration of MLK week.  

Dwandra Nickole Lampkin  is an actress, playwright, Associate Professor of Acting and Director of Multicultural Theatre at Western Michigan University.  She is the author and performer of “Lady Lorraine.”  More about Dwandra here.

Dee Dee Bateast is an actress, writer, director, social activist, and youth advocate.  She has worked with Girl Be Heard, a non-profit theatre company dedicated to social justice and issues affecting young women.  She has TV, film, and multiple stage credits (Goodman, Clarence Brown, PlayMakers Repertory Company, etc.).  Dee Dee will be working with Dwandra and staging “Lady Lorraine” on our Nelda K Balch Theatre stage and meeting with our Senior Seminar students.

In Spring, Anthony Hamilton will be guest directing Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet by Tarell Alvin McCraney.  Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet is a beautiful view into the life of a young man who just wants to feel like he belongs. But before he can understand his place, he must first uncover his father’s past.  Our very own Dr. Quincy Thomas will be the lead dramaturg assisting the production.

Anthony J. Hamilton received the 2019 Broadway World Regional Award for Best Choreography, and the 2020 Broadway World Regional Award for Director of the Decade.  He is a performer, director, and choreographer.

Quincy Thomas earned his Ph.D. in theatre and his performance studies certification from Bowling Green State University. His research centers on subjects including counter-storytelling, Black performativity in American culture, representations of the marginalized in popular culture, comedic and solo performance and performative writing. At K, he will teach directing, theatre history and playwriting, with further prior experience teaching theatre, performance studies and film.

Not a bad line up, and, we so look forward to working with these wonderful artists.  As a student, I encourage you to MEET and greet, SEE and learn, and spend your time with each of our guest artists during their time with us.  #luckyyou for the opportunity, and, it is up to YOU to make the most with each guest.  

I will close this very long email (have you even made it this far?) by reminding us of our incredible 58th Festival Playhouse Season (below)… Black is Beautiful:  An Ode to Black Life, Love, and Strength.

And to remind you of OUR FIRST production coming up in just over one week – Rebecca Chan’s musical Unzipped, written and performed by Rebecca and directed by Milan Levy.  We are so proud to kick off this season with what always remains most important to us:  the work of our students.

I’m looking forward to making some great theatre with each of you this year.  Let’s get to it.



Artistic Director of Festival Playhouse Theatre | 

Theatre that is always provocative… theatre that is always thoughtful…

Lanny Potts | he, him, his

Our 58th Festival Playhouse Mainstage Season:  Black is Beautiful:  An Ode to Black Life, Love, and Strength

Well-Intentioned White People | (fall)

Unzipped by Rebecca Chan k’22 | SPS (senior performance series production) | fall

MLK Celebration with Dwandra Lampkin in “The Conviction of Lady Lorraine” | winter

BLACKS+PHATS | (winter)

Acting Shakespeare with Mathew Swarthout k’22 | SPS (senior performance series production) | winter

Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet | (spring)

For more information, visit: 

Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College | 

Theatre that is always provocative.  Theatre that is always thoughtful.

Our 58th Season | Black is Beautiful:  An Ode to Black Life, Love, and Strength


SPS: Unzippedby Rebecca Chan ’22

Week 6 | Oct 21-24

Unzipped, an original show of alternating music and monologues, explores the perception of East Asians in the dominant United States’ culture and Rebecca’s own coming-of-age as a queer Chinese-American. The production is directed by Milan Levy, ’23, and will also feature set and projection design from Angela Mammel ’22, and lighting design by Sara Elfring ’25.

Well-Intentioned White People by Rachel Lynett

Week 8 | November 4-7, 2021

Directed by Ren Pruis.

After experiencing an anti-Black hate crime, college professor Cass wants to forget about it and move on with her life. But her white roommate/ex-girlfriend and the dean of the university push her to “do something” about it. Suddenly, Cass is roped into planning an Equality Day/Unity Week while trying to convince her roommate not to plan a sit-in. Well-Intentioned White People explores how liberals attempt to deal with discrimination not directed at them and how sometimes “well intentions” can be just as problematic. The stereotypical white saviors, white liberals, and white allies seem humorously over-exaggerated, but those caricatures aren’t too far, if different at all, from the truth. 


Diversity Guest Artist Series:  The Conviction of Lady Lorraine by Dwandra Lampkin

Week 3 – MLK Week | January 21-21, 2022

An original one-woman play written and performed by Dwandra Nickole Lampkin

Directed by Dee Dee Batteast

Set in Memphis, TN near the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated—a writer (Lampkin) has a brief but powerful encounter with a homeless woman, Lady Lorraine. She finds herself transformed by Lady Lorraine’s more than 20-year quest to right a social wrong.  One year later, the writer returns to Memphis, hoping that Lady Lorraine will share her full story of conviction. But the writer quickly finds herself asking new questions about many things, and finding that Lady Lorraine is not the only one on a quest for recognition.   Dwandra Nickole Lampkin serves as Associate Professor of Theatre at Western Michigan University.  Directed by Dee Dee Batteast.

SPS: Acting Shakespeareby Sir Ian McKellen

Week 6 | Feb 10-13

Performed by Matthew Swarthout

Matthew Swarthout ’22 will be undertaking Sir Ian McKellen’s one-person show Acting Shakespeare. This show will encompass both Matthew’s and McKellen’s insight into Shakespeare’s plays, featuring monologues and scenes from Romeo and JulietA Midsummer Night’s dreamHamletMacbeth and more.

BLACKS+PHATS by Kevin Renn

Week 8 | February 24-27, 2022

Directed by Janai Lashon.  Special one-week residency with playwright, Kevin Renn.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Black Panther Party, and Michael Jackson? BLACKS+PHATS is a satirical, vignette play about Black cultural issues, body image, fetishism, and their representation in modern society. This quick-witted comedy is sure to challenge your mind and tickle your comfort zone, touching on various themes like beauty ideals, relationship dynamics, and levels of attraction–all while attempting to find enlightenment in the stereotypes placed on minorities and full-bodied people.


Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Week 7 | May 12-15, 2022

This production will will be directed by Anthony J Hamilton with dramaturgy leadership by Dr. Quincy Thomas.

Marcus is sixteen and “sweet.” Days before Hurricane Katrina strikes the projects of Louisiana, the currents of his life converge, overflowing into his close-knit community and launching the search for his sexual and personal identity in a cultural landscape infused with mysterious family creeds. The provocative, poignant, and fiercely humorous coming-of-age story of a young gay man in the South, Marcus is the stirring conclusion of The Brother/Sister Plays.

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