Bleeding Kansas

by  Kathryn Walat

Full Length Play, Drama  /  3m, 2f

Homesteading farmers George and Kitty fight the elements to start a new life as a politically divided country takes a dangerous step towards civil war.

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Bleeding Kansas

by  Kathryn Walat

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    3m, 2f
  • Duration


    105 Minutes
  • SubGenre


  • Suggested Use

    Suggested Use

    • Scene work
    • Competition or audition material
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13)
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

It's 1855, Kansas Territory. The country is divided. People are turning against their neighbors because of their beliefs. War is on the horizon. Good people will do bad things and love will grow in places it shouldn't.

A provocative, funny and insightful play revisits a crucial moment in American history. Homesteading farmers George and Kitty fight the elements to start a new life as a politically divided country takes a dangerous step towards civil war.
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"To Walat's credit, her fast-moving play does not preach, merely raises questions, among them: Who are we as a nation? What shaped us and why? And does what we were—violent, intractable and destructive—play into our present-day society?...Bleeding Kansas is an excellent work." –San Diego News

“Kathryn Walat has delivered a powerful play. Bleeding Kansasis a gut-wrenching, tear-jerking drama that grabs the emotions. Its story offers plenty of parallels to present-day political and ethical issues but it doesn’t hit us over the head with them. Its characters aren’t Brechtian archetypes but believable flesh-and-blood human beings for whom we root and with whom we suffer.” –Zenger’s Newsmagazine

“Bleeding Kansas offers a fascinating look at a largely unknown chapter of American history, and it does it from a very human perspective. That the prejudices and divisions it portrays mirror what’s going on in America today make it especially timely.” – North County Times

“In this fresh new play, Kate revisits a vital moment in American history to tell an original story about political conviction, moral belief, and love of country, all told with her unique sense of humor, dramatic action and sharp insight into real people… Kate is one of the most dynamic and exciting emerging playwrights working in the American theatre.” – Kevin Moriarty (Artistic Director, Dallas Theatre Center) in

“A tough political examination…There’s much to admire and enjoy here. Walat successfully establishes a rich drama, showing that as capital-H history swirls around us, it is also lived at eye-level.” –Ithaca Times

“Bleeding Kansas tightly embodies the historical conflict with a spare handful of characters… What’s interesting is the psychological interplay of ethics and personalities.” – Ithaca Journal


  • Kathryn Walat on Bleeding Kansas
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Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre


  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $75 per performance



  • Time Period: Wild West, American Civil War Era
  • Duration: 105 Minutes
  • Setting: Pre-Civil War Kansas Territory.
  • Additional Features: Not Applicable
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes


  • Chorus Size: N/A (Not a musical)


3m, 2f

HANNAH ROSE ALLEN – A young abolitionist from Boston.
EDWIN REDPATH aka RED – A pro-slavery “Border Ruffian” from Missouri.
KITTSON CLARKE – A headstrong woman following her husband George.
GEORGE CLARKE – A free-state farmer from Indiana.
JOSIAH NICHOLS – A pro-slavery farmer from Missouri.
OTHER MEN – Played by the actors who play Red, George, and Josiah, as indicated.

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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast



Kathryn Walat

Kathryn Walat’s plays include Creation (Theatre @ Boston Court; Ovation Award for Playwriting nomination), Ancient Gods of the Backwoods (New George’s Germ Project), Bleeding Kansas (Hangar Theatre; Francesca Primus Citation; published by Samuel French), Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen (Women’s Project; published by S ...

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Bleeding Kansas premiered at The Hangar Theatre (Kevin Moriarty, Artistic Director; Lisa Bushlow, Executive Director) in Ithaca, NY, August 2007. It was directed by Kevin Moriarty.

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