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Corrie Van Ausdal fills her Fishtank theater with life

C ount on Corrie Van Ausdal to do things her own way.

The actress, playwright and Late Night Theatre veteran plans to inaugurate her new performance studio, Fishtank Theatre, with a typically unorthodox enterprise: a solo performance of “Sorry, Wrong Number,” a classic radio play by Lucille Fletcher that later became a classic film noir with Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster.

But it was the original radio play that captured Van Ausdal’s creative imagination. Agnes Moorehead starred as the bedridden daughter of a millionaire who overhears a murder plot on the telephone. Van Ausdal recalls hearing it in 2002 as she delivered pizzas.

The Fishtank, at 17th and Wyandotte, has a series of picture windows on Wyandotte, and the windows are where Van Ausdal will perform. The audience will stand or sit on the sidewalk. Van Ausdal is working with a team of directors: Katie Gilchrist, who helped her develop the adaptation, Vanessa Severo, Martin Buchanan and Missy Koonce.

“At the very end I’m in the smallest space and the smallest window,” she said. “The character is an invalid, in the parlance of the time, and that’s another way to heighten it.”

In January Van Ausdal sold her interest in Birdies, the panties boutique she owned with artist Peregrine Honig, and began to think about finding a multi-use performance space. She settled on 1715 Wyandotte, just around the corner from Birdies, in a building owned by artist David Ford.

Van Ausdal, in turn, is renting out the space to other performers who want to develop new material. One of them is Heidi Van, who has formed a new performance company called Hybrid. The space also will be used for classes.

But the Fishtank is also set up for public performances. Van Ausdal said she’d like to have at least one public event a month.

Van Ausdal hopes the space can be used by a diverse range of performing artists, but she really created the Fishtank for herself. She wants a place to work continually on new projects.

“I looked back on the time when I was happiest as a performer and those were the times I was working all the time,” she said. “I found I really did need to define my life around performance.”

Officially, Van Ausdal is the executive director of the Fishtank. She said she thinks of herself as a curator.

“Once you’ve been your own boss, it’s hard not being your own boss, man,” she said.


the show
“Sorry, Wrong Number” opens at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Fishtank, 1715 Wyandotte. Additional performances are scheduled at 8:30 and 10 p.m. July 3 and 8:30 p.m. on July 6 and July 11. A sliding scale of donations from $5 to $15 will be requested. For more information call 913-621-1304 or go to www.fishtanktheater.com.
The audience for “Sorry, Wrong Number” will either stand or sit on the sidewalk outside the Fishtank, 1715 Wyandotte. Vanessa Severo, co-director, checked out the perspective in preparation for Corrie Van Ausdal’s solo production, which will be performed in the building’s large windows. Van Ausdal, executive director of the Fishtank, said the building also will be used for classes and performances by other area artists.
DAVID EULITT/The Kansas City Star
The audience for “Sorry, Wrong Number” will either stand or sit on the sidewalk outside the Fishtank, 1715 Wyandotte. Vanessa Severo, co-director, checked out the perspective in preparation for Corrie Van Ausdal’s solo production, which will be performed in the building’s large windows. Van Ausdal, executive director of the Fishtank, said the building also will be used for classes and performances by other area artists.

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