You know what they say, the couple that theaters together, stays together. That’s good news for Elizabeth Bettendorf Bowman and Nathan Bowman—the founders of Kansas City Public Theatre, a non-profit theater company which provides professional theater entertainment free-of-charge to the public around the city.
The dramatic duo started their theater as a passion project. The goal? To increase accessibility to the arts. They both believe theater is a powerful community-building activity. (We agree!) Since we wanted to learn more about them, we hit them up with our five things questionnaire. Needless to say, they added jazz hands and spirit fingers to their answers.
5) Elizabeth: “One of my favorite hobbies is decorating for the seasons. I have a box (okay, several) at home for each season and corresponding holidays. I enjoy being outdoors as much as possible, but when I can’t, I like to feel the seasons when I’m inside. I can’t get into the season if I haven’t decorated for it. My family makes a celebration out of everything—and that carried over to me. Celebrating in my family is an artform. If you’re going to put real effort something, it might as well be a celebration.”
4) Nathan: “I have a collection of hundreds of business cards and sleeves from coffee houses. It was just something I started collecting about 15 years ago and it’s become a travel tradition. Every time I go to a new coffee house, I get weird looks from the employees when I ask them if I can have a business card to add to my collection. Recently, a lot of places quit carrying business cards behind their desks, so I decided a coffee sleeve is a suitable substitute.”
3) Elizabeth: “I teach theater classes to a wide range of age groups—including two-year-olds, preschoolers, K-12, college students, and people who are incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth. I really enjoy the juxtaposition of teaching preschoolers in the morning and people in prison in the evening. Each has a different set of challenges, but I get a lot out of teaching to each group. It allows me to experience the way theater can affect people at various stages of their life.”
2) Nathan: “I have a master’s degree in Religious Studies. For about a month in 2013, I decided I was going to take a break from theater and try something new. That was the month when I decided I was going to grad school. I studied religion in undergrad, so I thought, why not go the lucrative route of Religious Studies. It took me less than a semester in the program to realize everything I was writing about was still theater, so I finished the degree and switched back. I really enjoyed my two years in Religious Studies—as I think it better informed my theater practice.”
1) “One of our favorite pastimes is driving. We love taking road trips (the longer the better), but if we have some minutes to spare, we enjoy taking brief detours through the city and exploring neighborhoods we haven’t been to before. Almost every time we are coming home, we take an extra 15 minutes to drive down streets we’ve never been on. It’s easy to forget how much territory Kansas City takes up, and it’s nice to remind ourselves just how much Kansas City encompasses. We always spot little gems throughout the city—and a lot of times we find places that would make for great performance spaces. Cliff Drive has at least three rock formations that could easily be stages! Driving around is also how we discovered Brush Creek Amphitheater where we produced a show last year.”