By LINDSEY BROWN
Kenny Horning Jr., also known as K-Dawg, has been behind the scenes of every show at UMW since 2009. As the shop foreman of the UMW Theatre department, he is in charge of running the shop, and directing the students to the tasks that need to be done daily on the set, electrical, painting, etc. It is impressive how he is able to organize a bunch of college kids in the shop with saws and machinery without them hurting themselves.
Horning says it takes “patience, routine and order. Trust me, sometimes it’s not that easy. It’s like organized chaos most days, but we have a great team.”
Horning is originally from Missouri and got into theatre when he was a sophomore in high school. He went to the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He did not always know he wanted to work in the theatre business.
“I originally wanted to be a cop and attend the police academy when I was younger. Once I reached middle school/high school my artistic side kicked in and I thought I’d turn into a ‘starving artist.’ I was big into studio art throughout that entire time (still am), but my focus shifted towards the theatre world during my sophomore year.”
“One can never stop learning. I’ve learned through many years in the trade and through school. I’ve also been lucky to learn from professionals, colleagues and peers throughout the years”.
He also says his methods have changed over the years of working at UMW. “As I continue to get older, my methods change, my wisdom changes and my overall outlook changes, molds and adapts.”
Horning said that while it is difficult to choose a favorite technique in designing sets, “I’d say artistic woodworking. That means taking something from nothing and bringing it to fruition, like building a set for example.”
Of his favorite moments working at UMW, Horning said, “I have really enjoyed working with students over the summer. Summer is a more relaxed environment where we can really collaborate and focus on the details of building a production.”
Horning said his favorite set designs that he has worked on would have to be Uncle Vanya, Little Shop of Horrors, and The Heiress. And his favorite overall productions he has been a part of at UMW have been Little Shop of Horrors and Noises Off.
In the 11 years that Horning has worked at UMW, Klein Theatre has evolved quite a bit.
“Klein has transformed ten-fold since I first came to UMW. It used to be green, and now it’s a modern day contemporary theatre. The stage was once two feet shorter than it is now. At one time Klein had a roof, and now it has a state-of-the-art TWG (tension wire grid). And it continues to change and morph as we go through the years.”
UMW graduate Maxwell Hartz had nothing but good things to say about his time working with Horning.
“Kenny has been a big influence on my life and my time at UMW. I can directly trace where I am today to him. The first interaction I had with Kenny was on my first lab day when I walked in to work on the nearly completed set of Assistance. There was a secondary proscenium or portal that needed to be painted at the top. He gruffly asked me if I was afraid of heights to which I matter of factly and falsely replied no. What started out as me being a laborer for him, became a good friendship built on cool stage sets, summer work projects complete with action movie viewings, as well as road trips to DC, North Carolina and Maryland. We spent a lot of time together in and out of that theatre and I learned just how caring, funny, awesome and generous Kenny can be. While he seems like a rough around the edges guy, he’ll be the first to offer you one of his pecan pinwheels. Unless he hasn’t eaten today, then stay the hell away. But honestly, he’s a great man and I can’t say that enough.”