Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Eternal Harvest Wins Rocket Grant!

Growing up on a farm in Louisburg, Kansas without formal creative outlets for his talents, David Wayne Reed created his own venues for self-expression. His family lived off the grid, connected to the world by dirt road and antenna—the CB, the AM/FM, and in small doses, the TV. Alone, with the nearest neighbors miles away, he found creative spark in the solitude of his imagination. David desperately desired an audience, a connection. When people would come to visit the farm, he finally had a captive audience. He performed impromptu drag numbers for visiting seed salesmen. He danced for the hay crew. He made a connection. These memories have informed his creative work—from his trucking musicals to his one-man show about growing up gay on a farm. Having transported farm and country to the city with those productions, he would now like to return to his rural homeland and make a new artistic connection: to put the art in agriculture.
The relationship between farmer and land is spiritual, interdependent, and profound. It is an exercise in having faith in a seed’s future. It is the ritual of daily chores. It is the consequent prayers for rain and sunshine. It is the gratitude for a bountiful harvest. It is the inevitable surrender to the Winter. David recalls asking his father about the idea of reincarnation when he was a young man. His father said that the idea was plausible and offered the idea of a volunteer crop of wheat, or a perennial plant as possible evidence. Life continues from birth to death, from seed to harvest, again and again, he reasoned, creating a vision of the farm as a mandala of life—seasonal, perpetual, unrelenting, and eternal.
Eternal Harvest is a seasonal performance installation series, culminating in a film about the cycle of life as depicted in the landscape of the Reed family’s rural Kansas farm. Using drones, dance, farm implements, heirloom quilts, agriculture, and video installation, Eternal Harvest re-imagines and re-purposes the familiar agrarian implements and landscape to illustrate and celebrate the land, as well as the coming and going of livelihood it brings.
The short film will be projected on the side of a large barn that sits beside a road and on top of a hill – allowing for drive by and drive up audiences. This project is collaborative, and both reflects and shifts the perspective of the landscape back to its own community in a pronounced and innovative way.
David wants to cross-pollinate disparate communities in artistic collaboration. The process will, he hopes, create meaningful exchanges in a way of life and state suffering from an ongoing cultural drought. In addition to his urban creative community, he will be enlisting the assistance of his family and the communities to which they belong—including the Louisburg First Christian Church, the Two-Cylinder Antique Tractor Association of Greater Kansas City, the Masonic Lodge, an elderly dance and social club, and the hometown marching band.

David Wayne Reed is a playwright, director, producer and actor from Kansas City, Missouri. Plays include: Help Yourself, Jolly Rancher, Mother Trucker, Mother Trucker 2: Ride On, Sequoia, andPeggy and Paul at the Post Office in Provincetown. As an actor, he has appeared at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, Fishtank Performance Studio, The Living Room, Late Night Theatre, andSeaside Repertory Theatre. Reed has been awarded two Inspiration Grants from Arts KC, has won multiple ‘Best of’ Awards from the Pitch Weekly, and has been a Writer-In-Residence at both Charlotte Street and Escape to Create.
His early career as a founding member of Late Night Theatre is part of the permanent collection of the Gay and Lesbian Archives of Mid-America (GLAMA) at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. David is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, and hosts and produces the popular ‘show and tell’ storytelling series, Shelf Life.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


       In 1984, my Dad won a family vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida.  His business card had been drawn as part of a citywide raffle sponsored by our hometown Chamber of Commerce. All of Louisburg’s businesses had fishbowls to collect business cards for this raffle. Dad dropped his business card in the fishbowl at our local funeral home.   
For Thanksgiving that year, we drove to Florida in the brand new Chevy Celebrity that my parents had recently bought, replacing the much longer and well-worn Ford LTD. That trip was different and bigger than any previous trip, and on a holiday no less. As we drove, we were able to take in so many sights along the thousand mile trip to our destination.  We went to Graceland in Memphis, to the space museum in Huntsville, to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, we roller-skated in Mobile, before arriving at our Oceanside hotel and our humongous room that overlooked the Gulf of Mexico in Panama City Beach. 
While my parents preferred to drive in silence, I begged them turn on the radio. I needed music to underscore this moving scenery.  Somewhere near Jackson, Mississippi, I heard it for the very first time. A song, a jubilant song that sounded like it came from the past—anachronistic and yet completely new.  It was delectable and like nothing I’d heard.
The song ended and the announcer said “that was Wake Me Up Before You Go Go by WHAM!”  You better believe that the song jitterbugged into my brain and boom-boomed into my heart.  On that trip to Florida, I only hoped it would come on the radio again and again—which luckily it did.  In fact, on that Sunday, November 24, 1984, Casey Kasem announced on American Top 40 that Wake Me Up Before You Go Go was the week’s number one song. 
I had to know more about this WHAM!  Who was WHAM!?   Was it a man, was it a band?  Were there more songs?  I bought a Tiger Beat and saw their name is print.  WHAM! The name alone was amazing.  It was ALL CAPS!  It had an exclamation!  It was an  onomotapeia. Then I saw a picture and realized that Wham! Was not a him but rather a them. There were two? Two people, two men. Andrew Ridgely, who I’ve never quite figured out exactly what he did, and the other, the voice, the golden-throated star, the one with the perfect honey-haired mullet and bronze tan, George Michael.  Their hair was gorgeous, their skin sun-kissed, their eyebrows overarching.  They wore big neon shirts, tight pants, and fingerless gloves.  They had their ears pierced, which in my school was the ultimate way of proclaiming you were gay—especially if you wore your earring on the right ear. Which they did! To me, they weren’t gay, they were just two English lads who didn’t want to work but to have a good time—to sing, dance, and on occasion rap.  What the heck was rap? It was all so new!
Our family vacation was awesome and much-needed. Thank you luck and Louisburg Chamber of Commerce! It had been a particularly rough year for me emotionally starting on November 20, 1983 when I watched the movie, The Day After. By myself. A made-for-TV-movie-event about a nuclear holocaust filmed in my hometown region of Kansas City. Seeing this movie at this age profoundly fucked my life. I was already sensitive, dramatic, and hormonal, but now I was also panicked, morbid, and afraid. After seeing this movie, I was prone to breaking into tears and hyperventilation when we passed by roadside nuclear silos—of which we saw several on our road trip.  I even freaked out when seeing nuclear warheads on TV news.  I lived in perpetual fear of nuclear aftermath—which for an 11 year old is A LOT to take on. Here in 1984, the US was in a nuclear arms race with Russia, AIDS and its surrounding hysteria was spreading, and I was in the 7th grade which is in and of itself its own terror event.    
Most terrifying was gym class that I had at the end of the day, 7th period. This during a time when we were coming into our bodies and by vulnerably sharing our bodies during daily gym class. After running laps, I shower with some twenty other naked boys for the first time. I am pudgy, androgynous and hairless. I am effortlessly effeminate. Here I am shamefully aware of my undeveloped body. I uncover my own burgeoning sexuality as I look to see who has pubic hair yet and what their bodies look like, and how I compare. My eyes have been opened and I am naked and I am ashamed. This is the fallout of puberty.
We make our way out of our clothes and into the steam of the showers. I stand with other boys encircled under the shower heads that hang above us like an umbrella. Some farm boys begin to chant "Pee on Leon, Pee on Leon" before pointing their dicks and aiming their streams on a pimply classmate named Leon and peeing on him and other bullied kids including myself. We yell, slap, fight, and run away, tiptoeing quickly across the cold locker room floor foul with the stench of well-worn tennis shoes, urine, Speed Stick, and cruelty.
 Our teacher, a coach, stands behind a half door rolling up towels into whips and snapping us on our wet asses before tossing the towel down to the floor forcing us to bend over and pick it up in front of him. This was my puberty in 1984, in the new wake of AIDS, a nuclear arms race and Just Say No. This is my sexual genesis in the age of fear.  I digress just to provide context.
WHAM!  I loved WHAM!  Luckily, they weren’t just a one-hit-wonder.  Their album, Make It Big was like a self-fulfilling prophecy. They made it big, indeed—featuring hits Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Freedom, Everything She Wants, and Careless Whisper.  In fact, Make It Big wasn’t even their first album. On their debut album, Fantastic, they look like greaser twinks shirtless in black leather motorcycle jackets reclining into each other-shoulder to shoulder.  It’s so obviously and teasingly gay--I see that now but then I didn’t see it explicitly.  Like maybe not seeing the forest for the trees. 
They sang about girls, about everything SHE wants. I thought the gay rumors were nothing more than, well, …careless whispers.  These guys were studs who went snow skiing with girlfriends for Last Christmas and cavorted in speedos and drank umbrella drinks at Club Tropicana. They don’t want to work, or get down in the dirt-these boys had better things to do. They choose to cruise. Their music, their style, their kinship was like religion to me. Their music was a revelation in ways I didn’t even have the capacity or knowledge to fully comprehend at the time. 
I’m Your Man is my favorite WHAM! Song.  The video for I’m Your Man features George Michael gleefully shakes a tambourine as wildly as he shakes his hips. 

Call me good. Call me bad. Call me anything you want to baby
If you’re gonna do it, do it right!
I'm your man!!

As I moved into the 8th grade, I endured more bullying, more name-calling, but I also think that was the year I began to more overtly embrace myself as a part of a culture I had only began to discover from a considerable distance.  Under lock and combination of my locker, I had a memento, a glass placard of the group WHAM! that I bought at the State Fair over the summer.  This was stuck on the inside of my top locker door, only disclosed in the three minute intervals between classes. Only displayed in glimpses, and at close range.  
Maybe it was a first stab at ownership, of fulfilling the label that was bestowed on me. Of claiming an identity—one that was discovered and labeled by bullies but ennobled by both puberty and by the sexual fluidity that was hitting the mainstream—by Wham!, by Prince, by Boy George and Culture Club. 
Even with the pictures of WHAM!, in my locker, that didn’t mean I was gay. 
Even if I dressed up as Boy George that year for Halloween it didn’t mean I was gay.  
Regardless, I become an easy target for ridicule. In a small town junior high, nobody gets to hide. Anonymity is a luxury not afforded us by small town life, especially for an outgoing, moody flamer particular about his looks. But the door to my sexuality had begun to become unlocked, in fact, I couldn’t even repress it.  I couldn’t help but be effeminate. It was natural to me because it was me. And so, from junior high right on through high school, I was called a faggot.
In between classes, I would be harassed, in passing.
Faggot. Faggot. Fag. Fag. Faggot. 
They would call and push me into my locker with a shove, a thud, and a WHAM! before carrying on down the hall to class. As they walked on, I stood behind the door between the barely open locker.  Just one last glance at WHAM! before I would grab my gym bag, shut my locker door, roll the combination lock, and walk to class knowing that the door had only just begun to be opened. 
 FEB 22, 2017 1 PM

Sarah Beth Mundy and her cigarette pen, as seen at a previous Shelf LifeSarah Beth Mundy and her cigarette pen, as seen at a previous Shelf Life

It’s difficult to describe exactly how a room reacts to David Wayne Reed unless you’ve been in a room when David Wayne Reed enters it. This is what I learned last December, when I was among the storytellers drafted for one of Reed’s Shelf Life events. I knew the local actor and playwright by reputation, but I’d never watched him work up close. For that evening’s installment of the new-ish series (the theme was a seasonally appropriate “Unwanted Gifts”), the Brick was packed, and when Reed took the stage, wearing a panama hat and a button-down shirt, the room hushed as though everyone present were expecting a healing sermon.

Shelf Life isn’t without therapeutic properties. It’s hybrid of Moth-style monologues, literary slams, and old-fashioned show and tell. Presenters share stories connected to objects (generally on view in the room) that relate somehow to that occasion’s chosen theme. February 25’s is Idol Worship — about which, more in a moment.
Reed landed on the idea for the series while cleaning out a relative’s home. As he separated which items to discard and which to keep, he recognized that behind each possession was a tale of some kind — an origin, a connection. Shelf Life, then, makes up a kind of fragmented play about life with objects, one with a disparate, purposely mismatched cast.
For Saturday’s Idol Worship, the title suggests objects and events tied to heroes of pop culture.
“My object is a RuPaul doll,” says Megan Metzger, a former Pitch contributor now working toward her doctorate in Illinois. “She’s wearing a red-vinyl body suit with matching thigh-high boots. She’s fierce!”
Metzger’s story involves RuPaul’s Drag Race, a Project Runway-like elimination contest in which participants fight for the title of best drag queen. “Being a superfan of anything is usually perceived by others as crazy or nerdy, but I’m hoping my story will dispel some of that craziness and/or nerdiness,” Metzger says.  She adds that, though she travels back to KC infrequently, “when David Wayne Reed calls, I answer.”
Also participating are Judy Mills (of Mills Records), Ryan Wray, Pamela Liebbert, Gustavo Adolfo Aybar, and Kimmie Queen. Expect to see Loverboy drumsticks, Elvis, autographs from poets, and an imaginary friend.
I heard seven narratives the night of Unwanted Gifts, including Mark Manning’s admission that ceramic clowns seem to follow him, and Jen Harris’ tale about a dog-shaped doorstop. During the latter, the room stayed utterly still, and the already-weeping woman sitting next to me at one point had to stifle a gasp.
Such reactions are why Reed has undertaken the project. “I think it’s in the act of listening that we incubate empathy,” he says. “And empathy breeds compassion, and compassion tears down proverbial walls of otherness.”

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A pendulum swings

In July, my eldest nephew and I took a road trip to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We were looking for adventure with an eye on bungee jumping down a gorge. Though we didn’t find bungee jumping (confounding, I know) we found other thrills like white water rafting down the Colorado River and visiting an amusement park built on top of a 10,000 foot high mountain cliff. There we rode a swing that flung us out over the edge of the cliff, going higher and faster with each hydraulic push. Though we were strapped in with seatbelts, we were flung out high above the Colorado River that rushed thousands of feet below. It was a tremendous, heart shaking thrill to be thrown out and back over and over again. We rode this swing at least five times.
This ride is the most apt metaphor for my 2016. This year has been like that swing, like the pendulum of life that has no other choice but to swing from one extreme to another. This has been the theme of my year and a mantra that I have repeated to myself as my year has vacillated between the crushing lows to ascending highs that I couldn’t have even imagined at the year’s beginning.
As the year began, I was hustling for freelance work and working as a valet for a condominium on the country club plaza. In the evenings, I worked on a play that I came to hate and eventually burned it in my backyard fire pit. I know—and don’t worry, I saved it on my computer but then (THEN) my computer was hacked by ransomware and my entire laptop and its contents were obliterated-my creative work and identity lost. Cue existential crisis. In those days, the only mail I received was either rejection letters or mounting bills. I felt like a creative failure. To top it off, I had to be fitted for adult braces.
I had just gotten my new grill installed and was working a shift as a caterer when I snuck a bite of flank steak. Not yet adjusting to braces, I swallowed the meat whole and began to choke. Literally, I was choking and couldn’t speak or breathe. I stood in the kitchen and flailed my arms about without sound before one of the other caterers gave me the Heimlich and I spit up the steak. It was several minutes before I could even muster the breath to whisper ‘thank you for saving my life’ to my co-worker, Susan. It was scary for sure but even more frightening were the looks of alarm on the faces of my co-caterers that reminded me that I’d come close to death and cheated it.
Literally the day after receiving notice that I wasn’t hired for the job I’d spent three months interviewing for, my colleague at my former job called. He offered me the chance to return to the job I’d previously spent nine years before I finally quit due to petty and ineffectual leadership for which I have no words of kindness. In May, I returned to my former job to find a vastly different office culture than the one I left in the fall of 2014. Those who made working there unbearable had all been removed from their positions and seen for that which I knew them to be. It was validating certainly, but moreover, the office culture now is brighter, lighter, and I was welcomed back like a prodigal son.
After my Dad’s open heart surgery in the Spring, he gifted each of us three kids with notebooks containing our family history complete with pictures and newspaper articles of and about our ancestors.
It’s a gift I hold dear and it was only amplified by a trip on Memorial Day to our family cemetery where the ancient headstones sit in the back acreage under a large tree—a family tree.
I traveled a fair amount: Colorado, Seattle, Provincetown, Tampa, Wichita, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. From the top of the Space Needle to the glory of riding It’s A Small World After All at Disneyland, travel continues to be my greatest love and my most generous muse.
Notable events:
I wrote a couple short plays that were produced locally: Peggy and Paul at the Post Office in Provincetown and Sequoia.
I shot a print ad as a disgruntled pilot for Garmin and an infomercial as a delivery driver schlepping a dolly/cart.
I won a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 in a raffle.
I spent a good amount of time behind a microphone. I officiated a wedding. I eulogized my beloved Aunt who died on Father’s Day. I hosted the 18th Street Fashion Show and an International Awards luncheon for my job.
I received an Inspiration Grant from ArtsKC to seed my newest project, Shelf Life. It’s a live storytelling show—an update on the idea of Show and Tell. So far, I’ve produced three shows and the response is overwhelming. Shelf Life (and storytelling) reminds me time and time again of the power of the first person narrative and how unifying it is and can be. That which is most personal is often the most universal. It gives me hope that maybe in my small little corner at the Brick, I can enable enough people to share their own stories, and create a space for people to actively listen to each other without judgment. Storytelling is an incubator of empathy and compassion and in these divisive times, it seems not only like a subversive act but also like the salve we so desperately need.
My beloved truck died and I was forced to buy a new car. Let me tell you that going from driving a 1964 Chevy to a 2015 Toyota Corolla is like an Amish kid going on Rumspringa (Seatbelts! Power steering! Power brakes! Radio! Bluetooth!). Also, I’m due to get my truck back from the mechanic tomorrow. (Merry Christmas, Me!)
On Election Day, I closed on my first house-an adorable bungalow in Northtowne.
I finally move in on Monday, December 26 after the past two months of home renovation that have consumed me wholly. I’m ecstatic at the thought of finally nestling in where my kitty, Neely and I will make a home.
Where my year began and where it ended are two very different stories and this reminds me that a pendulum has to swing—often from one stark extreme to another. That’s the rollercoaster of life and the thrill of living. Though at times dire, it reminds me that anything can change at any time and often does. That’s the good news and the bad news. In the meantime, though, I’m holding on for dear life, just a’swinging.
Thanks friends for being on this journey with me.
Happy Holidays and warmest wishes to you and yours.

My copy of A Prayer for Owen Meany

At the last Shelf Life, I shared a very personal and tragic story about suicide, alcoholism, and faith. Thanks for letting me share.

Shelf Life Website Debuts!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


As part of a 24 hour playwright challenge at The Living Room. I wrote and directed a new short play titled, Sequoia (in 24 hours!).  

Sequoia: A suicidal squatter is interrupted by a young Christian couple looking to buy a foreclosure. Below is the video:

Starring: Curtis Smith, Marianne McKenzie, and J. Will Fritz.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

There's a white elephant in the room and we want to talk about it! 

Just in time for the holidays, SHELF LIFE returns with UNWANTED GIFTS. 

Clowns, an EZ Bake Oven, a three-ring notebook, a cigarette pen, and more. These are just some of the unwanted gifts. 

Featuring this all-star cast: 

Jose Faus, Charles Ferruzza, Jen Harris, Mark Manning, Sarah Beth Mundy, and Annie Raab. 

Shelf Life is a live themed show and telling event featuring an array of unique objects from the region and the people and stories behind them. Hosted by David Wayne Reed.

Also, everyone who buys a ticket is entered into a raffle for a really cool SURPRISE MYSTERY OBJECT to be unveiled at the event. Ooh, ahhh!

Doors open at 7 p.m. and show begins at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $10.

Shelf Life is made possible with support from Arts KC.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Vote Shelf Life!

Just in time for the ELECTION, Shelf Life returns to the Brick on November 5th with objects and stories about Election Season!
Stories include:
Harry Truman's handwritten electoral predictions
A tete-a-tete with Vladimir Putin
Accidentally working the front lines of the 2000 presidential campaign
A retired NFL player campaigns for a touchdown in the Missouri House
Mt. Rushmore in song
Political DNA
Teeny tiny Mitt Romney.

Storytellers include: Former NFL player Martin T. Rucker II, Lisa Cordes, Ry Kincaid, Benji King, Lynn Gardner Hinkle, Samuel Rushay from the Harry S. Truman Library, David Wayne Reed, and Kate Haugan as "the Gifter."

Shelf Life is a live event held at The Brick (1727 McGee, KCMO).  Doors open at 7 p.m. and show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door or in advance at

Save the date:
December 10, 2016--Shelf Life (Unwanted Gifts)
2017 Dates TBA.

Shelf Life is made possible with support from Arts KC. Reed was awarded an Inspiration Grant from the Art Council of Metropolitan Kansas City to launch this new ongoing series.

Storytellers are curated from an open call submission and are selected to tell a story inspired by, or featuring an object within the context of the events chosen theme. (Upcoming themes: Unwanted Gifts, Idol Worship, Wanderlust, and Cotton.)  Have a great object/story?  Tell us about it at

Sunday, October 30, 2016

How To Be A Winner

I never pass a raffle or chili cook off without entering. Simply: You have to enter to win.

Tomorrow I once again enter the chili cook off at my work. I have already won twice and also won the inaugural Rock Out With Your Crock Out at the Fishtank last fall.  I just want to be transparent in sharing my seasoned (ahem) background.  Like, I have some serious chili cred.

To be utterly transparent, I'm sharing my ingredients (left) and my winning story (link below).  Enjoy!

The Secret Ingredient

Shelf Life-Election Season is Saturday, November 5, 2016 at the Brick (1727 McGee, KCMO)

I want to come to Shelf Life! How do I get tickets?