Our Plays and Our History


Kevin holds a M.F.A. in Theatre Directing from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in Speech and Theatre from SUNY Oneonta. He received a Twin Cities Drama Critics Circle KUDOS Award for his production of Brian Friel’s “Translations” at University of Minnesota Theatre. He has directed many productions over the years in many settings.


He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Providence College, the University of Rhode Island, the Community College of Rhode Island and the New England Institute of Technology. Previously he taught at Hope College in Holland, Michigan and at the University of Michigan campus in Flint. He teaches courses in Communications, Public Speaking, Theatre, Film and Popular Culture.

Interrupting The Sermon by Dr. Wayne C. Olson and Kevin Olson

This gentle play chronicles the evolution in Dr. Olson's 50-year career as a minister using his memoirs, his poems

and his last sermon. Baptizing an AIDS patient, an anti-nuke rally and rock music all influence profound changes

in his ministry, spanning years spent in Woodstock, NY, New York City and rural Vermont among other places.

"Interrupting The Sermon is a Fringe Festival play that uses stories, poems, and a sermon to explore  how we've lost religion as we’ve re-created it...This play was as perfect a blending of theatre and theology as I have yet to see."

                          -- Alpha Omega Arts, Full review

     First Reading:  Church of Christ at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, March 2011 

     Second Reading:  Bradford United Church of Christ, Bradford, VT, March 2012

     Full Production:  AS 220, Providence, RI, September 2014

     Full Production:  Indy Fringe Festival, Indianapolis, IN August 2015

Lifepoems in Motion --  created by Lilly Cataldi and Kevin Olson

Lifepoems in Motion is a dance performance piece with original percussion by Michael Goldberg. Using poems written by members of Kevin’s family, the performance presents family oral history through poetry, movement and percussion.

     Full Production:  Providence Fringe Festival produced by The Wilbury Group, July 2016


This is My Story: Mayses, 1938 -1948 created by Kevin Olson

Mayses is Yiddish for incredible stories. Influenced by first-hand accounts, the play presents glimpses of the lives of 12 Jews whose lives were shaped in part by their different yet somehow interconnected experiences of those years. None of these stories are set in concentration camps. Rather, they speak of and reflect on other encounters from those years that continue to impact the lives of both Jews and non-Jews today.


     First Reading:  Artists Exchange, Cranston, RI, March, 2013

     Full Production:  Produced by University of Rhode Island Arts and Culture, Providence, RI April 2016

And Then What? -- created by Bena Shklyanoy and Kevin Olson

The play is presented as Readers Theatre and tells the life stories of Bena Shklyanoy’s ancestors and their influence on Bena. 

It places their stories in the context of the tumultuous sweep of Pre-Bolshevik Revolution and Soviet history.

“FirstHand Theatrical, under Olson's direction, fashioned a jewel in ‘And Then What?’ and this production captivates from the moment the first lines are spoken.”

                           -- Broadway World Rhode Island, Full review

     Full Production:  AS220, Providence RI, July 2017

     Full Production: Piven Theatre, Evanston, IL, August 2018

How Many Bushels Am I Worth? -- created by Bena Shklyanoy and Kevin Olson

In 1967, at the end of the Six-Day War, the Iron Curtain opened for Soviet Jews. Families made agonizing decisions on whether to stay or go. With the help of many organizations and the dedication of the Save Soviet Jewry effort, thousands immigrated to the United States in the first wave in the 1970s. The Shklyanoys — a grandmother, mother, father and their daughters (ages 18 months and 8 years) — were in that first group. Those daughters, don’t remember life in the Soviet Union: the communal apartments, the long lines for food, or when being Jewish was a stamp on a passport or a reason to get beat up by a classmate. They want to know their history to tell their children. 

      Full Production: Piven Theatre, Evanston, IL, August 2018


              This Is My Story: Mayses, 1938-1948                                                  Artists' Exchange                                         

 Lifepoems in Motion

                 PVD Fringe

                                    Interrupting The Sermon                                              AS220 95 Empire Black Box

FirstHand Theatrical (FHT) creates and presents original theater productions  using primary source material drawn mainly from diverse personal, cultural and social histories and other writing. 


Established in 2013 by Artistic Director Kevin Olson, FHT has created five original scripts. If you are interested in reading any of our plays for possible production, please email Kevin Olson at firsthandtheatrical@gmail.com

                                    And Then What?                                              AS220 95  Empire Black Box

 Our First Event. A reading of Interrupting The Sermon           Church of Christ at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Lifepoems in Motion

                PVD Fringe

Interrupting The Sermon

                      Indy Fringe

                            This Is My Story  

                        URI Arts & Culture                                                 


firsthandtheatrical@gmail.com    401-400-2517

© 2018 by First Hand Theatrical.