“The Hindu and the Cowboy… And Other Kansas City Stories” (2012)

“The Hindu and the Cowboy… and Other Kansas City Stories” is the title of a play based on interviews with Kansas Citizens of many diverse faith traditions. It is the resulting product of the Mosaic Life Stories Project, a process undertaken in 2002 by a group of volunteers who were inspired by both the need for first-hand interfaith understanding and by belief in the power of story in dramatic form. The idea was sparked by the Gifts of Pluralism Conference hosted by CRES (a not-for-profit organization which facilitated the Kansas City Interfaith Council), falling by chance on the heels of September 11, 2001. The play first premiered in 2004 and since then has been staged over 25 times.


The Mosaic Life Stories project provided a process for bringing the rich life experiences of diverse Kansas City individuals to wider awareness through drama. Scriptwriter Donna Ziegenhorn designed the project and wrote the play based on her experience in story-based performance. Seven individuals were trained to interview, and the team collected and transcribed approximately 80 stories through personal interviews and story-telling circles. The transcribed stories fill three two-inch ring binders.


The project has encouraged people to come forward and tell the stories they have lived, the stories that have affected them in a visceral way. All generations, including youth, and all major religious faiths have been involved in the storytelling. Specifically, individuals have been interviewed from the following faith traditions: Native American, Baha’i, Christian (Protestant and Catholic), Hindu, Islam, Judaism, Pagan, Sikh Dharma, Sufi, Unitarian Universalist, Zoroastrian, Jain and non-affiliated.


The stories—which convey tragedy, healing, humor and reconciliation—are personal and unique. Together they present a rich and varied face of Kansas City. The stories show that people who join the community add their personal histories to those whose families have lived in Kansas City for generations. The project is a tribute to the changing identity of the metropolitan area.


“The Hindu and the Cowboy” was scripted from selected stories that are performed by local actors. The names of the original storytellers have been changed in the script.


Read a promising practice of “The Hindu and the Cowboy” featured in the Pluralism Project’s pilot initiative, “America’s Interfaith Infrastructure: An Emerging Landscape.”


Read articles on “The Hindu and the Cowboy” in our Religious Diversity News archive.


Initial Project Sponsors:

CRES, Vern Barnet, President

Kansas City Harmony, Diane Hershberger, Executive Director

National Conference for Community and Justice, Juan Rangel, Executive Director