Charlie Mike Theatre Company, Kansas City, MO

I'm Amanda S. Cherry, founder and Artistic Director of Charlie Mike Theatre Company, and Buster the Service Dog's handler.

Charlie Mike Theatre Company comes from the idea that theatre, at its core, is a way to connect us all -- past gender, race, sexual orientation, disabilities, religion or politics. In college, I saw theatre as a tool to ease suffering, express emotions, and connect people. My first experience of using theatre as a healing medium came through directing "Tracers" with a cast of Viet Nam veterans. My experience with those veterans suffering from PTSD taught me that service to a community is our highest calling. From there, I quit college, joining the Iowa Army National Guard as a combat medic. I served overseas in support of Operation Joint Endeavor (Bosnia) in Heidelberg, Germany. Then I pursued a career in emergency servics as an EMT-Basic and volunteer firefighter.

Theatre never really loosened its grip on me, however. I found ways to work in theatre as a costume designer, make-up artist, acress, director, and playwrite. I pursued my formal education in theatre out of high school at Central College in Pella, Iowa and later at the University on Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I've worked in theatres as close as Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, and Oregon. I regretted not finishing my BA in theatre before leaving to join the Army, leading me to graduation years later from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon with a BA in English and Communications. I began working as a freelance journalist, became a published author, award winning photographer, and editor at the Department of Joint Interagency and Multinational Operations at Ft. Leavenworth Combined Arms College. All the while volunteering with veterans' organizations, charities that serve veterans, and community theatres.

Ever since directing those Viet Nam veterans years ago, I've wanted to bring theatre to the communities that serve our community, bridging the gap between those of us who run toward the danger when others are running away. I told myself that I wasn't educated enough, didn't have enough money, and the cause was too big for me to pursue alone. Then one day I realized I wasn't alone. I knew experts and educators, advocates and leaders, but no one was doing what Charlie Mike Theatre Company intends to do, so why not me or us? It's time to continue the mission...