Former Kansan Broadway-bound with his play
On the dry high plains of western Kansas, playwright Shane Howard has tapped a reservoir of inspiration.
A native Kansan, Howard, 31, is focused on producing his play, “In Pursuit of Peace,” for the upcoming Broadway Bound Theater Festival in New York City.
One of 20 playwrights selected for the event, Howard is in pre-production, settling on a director and cast of four. His play is scheduled to open in August at the 14th Street Y in the East Village.
Festival organizers will pay the insurance, advertising and run the box office, freeing up the playwrights to produce their plays. This isn’t Howard’s first off-Broadway play. But this time, he will let someone else direct it because he feels too close to the topic.
The play has a western Kansas theme, said Howard, speaking from Culver City, California, where he lives.
“This is a love story between a father and son, and how they deal with their relationship,” he said.
Despite the separation of many years and many miles because of an unhappy divorce, the father and son struggle to remain connected through a scrapbook.
“The two are estranged and the one thing they have in their life that keeps them connected is that scrapbook,” Howard said.
Inspiration for Howard’s work comes from his childhood growing up in Dighton, about 50 miles northeast of Garden City. He is the son of Gene Howard, Dighton, and Denise LaRosh, Tonganoxie.
His parents divorced, and he moved to Tonganoxie with his mother when he was 12. After high school, he attended Kansas State University. Following graduation, Howard headed east to pursue a career as a sportscaster in New York City. At first, he worked in video production and film. However, through the mentoring he received while he was editing a feature film, he was led to acting school at the Susan Batson Studio.
“I started from walking in there never having taken a single acting class,” Howard said. ” I worked closely with her for two years. But I have had many teachers and mentors who have shown me different aspects of the industry.”