Madilynn Mansur sheds light on neurodivergence in her solo show, An Adolescent Cabaret, at The Black Box May 24-25

headshot of a woman

Madilynn Mansur, the artist behind An Adolescent Cabaret. // Photo by Akta Photography London

Raymore-born Madilynn Mansur is a neurodivergent, feminist solo artist who’s bringing her all-new work to The Black Box in the West Bottoms for two nights only. An Adolescent Cabaret is inspired by her discoveries in writing a letter to herself, as an assignment, at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where Mansur will graduate this year.

A year in the making, this deconstructed cabaret blends the light and darkness of reflection and examines the difficulty of wrestling with memories lost or faded. This show explores themes of ADHD, feminism, and self-discovery. An Adolescent Cabaret is a celebration of the inner child.

Aac Poster

Poster made by Mansur.

Mansur is not used to performing solo, but she says she has enjoyed the experience of getting reacquainted with herself by creating this one-woman show.

“I was always either the chorus girl or the secondary funny character, and that’s just me, and I love that,” Mansur says. “But I was like, ‘Okay, let’s explore something that I’ve never dove into. Looking back, I don’t really remember ages 6 to 12. And I discovered this was before I was told I could have ADHD, and I was like, this makes sense. I blacked out because I didn’t really know me. I never really had the opportunity to be Madilynn Mansur. I had to put a façade on because that’s an ADHD trait.”

Writing the show was a process of rediscovering who she was at these ages that she has repressed over time, Mansur says.

“This is my own source of therapy,” Mansur says. “I’m not afraid of vulnerability. I was at first. Not anymore. I’m not going to lie; it is terrifying at times. My mom yesterday said, ‘You’re showing your childhood trauma?’ And I’m like, ‘No, I’m really not. I’m just showing you my story.’ And it may seem like childhood trauma, and I believe everyone has to have trauma. Right? Mine’s not even remotely as bad as most others.’ And I want to make sure that I hit that too. It was just a freaking struggle because I’d get so distracted with small things. I can’t do things that are terrifying to me at times. But I’m challenging myself, and I’m getting myself to a point where I say I should not be scared; I should embrace that.”

Tap Dancing 5 6 Years Old

Mansur was born to perform onstage. Here she is preparing for a tap dance routine around 5 or 6 years old. // Courtesy photo

Her creative process involved interviewing friends, family members, and acquaintances who knew her during these forgotten years to help reconstruct her lost childhood identity.

“I was interviewing childhood friends I have not seen in—I kid you not—15 years,” Mansur says. “I rekindled friendships. And then, I interviewed family. Some were accepting, and some were kind of hesitant because they think that I’m going to expose them. I’m not going to expose anybody because, first of all, it’s not their story. It’s my story.”

A close friend was essential to Mansur’s writing process, too, she says.

“I went to New York, and I visited my best friend, Andrea Ambam. I graduated with her, and she’s doing amazing things in New York, so I stayed with her,” Mansur says. “And that was when I picked up the laptop and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to fucking do it.’ And then I started going, and then I couldn’t stop. Like, I was obsessed.”

The show also features feminist themes, hearkening back to childhood Madilynn’s introduction to femininity at Club Libby Lu, she says. She hopes that her London audiences understand this very American reference.

Before bringing the show to Kansas City, Mansur will perform and workshop the production with her peers and professors at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. After spending the last few years studying drama in London, Mansur is excited to bring her original work back to her home audience of Kansas City.

“Kansas City has always been open arms for me,” Mansur says. “My friends and family are here, but also the theatre community has just been so accepting. They laugh at my laughter, they cry with my tears, and they understand me because I’m from the Midwest, and that’s just how we communicate.”

This show is recommended for ages 14+. The audience is invited to stay for a talkback with the artist following each performance. Mansur says the show is currently on the waitlist for KC Fringe Festival, too.

General Admission tickets are $20 and are available at the door or online. Free parking is available. The show will be performed in Kansas City only on Wednesday, May 24, and Thursday, May 25. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.

The Black Box is located in the West Bottoms at 1060 Union Ave, Kansas City, MO.

Categories: Theater