Press Release

Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre at the Warwick

To Become a Professional Non-Equity Company



Kansas City, MO – October 3, 2019 –

Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre (MET) has suspended its association with Actors’ Equity and will produce their 2019-2020 season as a professional non-Equity company. MET is located in The Warwick Theatre, 3927 Main Street, Kansas City, MO, 64111. The company’s 15th season opened Sept 12, 2019 with Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde.  The full season is listed at the end of this release.


In August 2018, Actors’ Equity required MET to increase the number of union contracts from six to fifteen.  This requirement to more than double union representation proved to be financially insurmountable for the non-profit theatre. In November 2018, the situation was exacerbated when the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund (NTDF) suspended funding.  NTDF awards to MET largely underwrote the theatre’s Equity responsibilities.


When MET informed Equity there was trouble with their funding, the union declined to entertain any temporary reduction in the number of contracts. With Equity commitments between $8,000-9,000 per production, MET’s Board of Directors made the unanimously decision to suspend working with Equity and financially secure the theatre.


“Remaining an Equity theatre would require cutting costs across the board resulting in fewer productions, shorter rehearsals, smaller shows, thinner non-equity salaries AND increased ticket prices,” said Bob Paisley, Co-Producer. “That’s not the kind of work we want to produce, nor the kind of environment we want for our company. Since our inception in 2005, we’ve paid every artist we’ve had the pleasure of working with, and that’s important to us.”  


The company finished the 2018-19 season with three shows that did not include any Equity actors or stage managers: Seven Guitars, The Shawshank Redemption, and City of Angels.


“We produced three shows that season with non-Equity casts to much critical praise. This city’s cadre of non-Equity talent is impressive” said Karen Paisley, MET Producing Artistic Director. “Letting go of working with our long-standing Equity peers is a great artistic loss, but for now, it is necessary to secure the company financially.”




At its heart, MET is committed to the art of story. We claim the great stories of our heritage as the birthright for all people. We work to encourage the creation of new stories and new artists whose voices speak to the rich totality of our community and whose perspectives deepen our understanding of each other and of ourselves. We believe that exploration of personal creativity and opportunity for engagement in life-long learning is critical to the health and happiness of people locally as well as around the world.



Karen Paisley, Producing Artistic Director

Karen is the founding Artistic Director of MET, a veteran professional director, performer, writer and award-winning educator. A graduate of UNCG, she earned her master’s degree in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. Favorite acting projects include Mother in Ragtime, Darcy in One Flea Spare, Margaret in The Light in the Piazza.  Directing credits include The Time of Your Life, Death of a Salesman, Copenhagen, The Woolgatherer, West Side Story, The Crucible, Frankie and Johnny in the Claire du Lune, Hello Dolly, The Wizard of OZ, The Sound of Music and many others. 


Bob Paisley, Co-Producer 

John Robert Paisley is an award-winning actor and director, working with theatres across North America, UK and Australia. Bob has played such challenging roles as Teach in American Buffalo, the title role in Faustus (LA Dramalogue Award), Tom in The Glass Menagerie, Heisenberg in Copenhagen, The Man in The Event, and the 42nd President in Bill Clinton Hercules.  He has directed productions for Theatre West Virginia, the Birmingham Children’s

Theatre, Neptune Theatre, Our Town Theatre Group and Fringe festivals in Kansas City, Bedford, UK, Adelaide, Australia and Edinburgh, Scotland.  TV and film credits include The Rosa Parks Story, General Hospital and the CBS murder mystery series, Scene of the Crime.



Interviews with Karen Paisley, Producing Artistic Director, or with Bob Paisley, Co-producer, are available upon request.

Contact Jenny Costantino:






By Moisés Kaufman 

September 12-29, 2019



By David Auburn

January 9-16, 2020



By Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joe Masteroff

February 13--March 1, 2020



By Jane Anderson

March 19-April 5, 2020



By Karen Paisley

April 30-May 17, 2020



By Lionel Bart 

June, 2019



Tickets are available online at and range from $15 to $54.