Ryan is an award-winning speaker, writer, theatre-maker, and creative. Ryan received his master's degree from the University of Oxford, where he graduated with honors and received a distinction for his narrative nonfiction account of his American travels, 50 States of Mind: A Journey to Rediscover American Democracy, which won a Readers' Favorite International Book Award for travel nonfiction. Onstage, ATLANTIC – a collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and his alma mater Northwestern University – won critical acclaim at Edinburgh Fringe and DREAM TICKET (Players Theatre, off-Broadway) won the NY Fringe Excellence Award and was recommended by The Huffington Post and TimeOut. Other credits include WE ARE BLOOD (Kansas City Public Theatre, Olathe Civic Theatre, upcoming); BAD PRESS (Cherry Lane Theatre); THE NEW ORDER (Kansas City Horror Play Festival, Corkscrew Theatre Festival, Oxford University Dramatic Society Best Play for Voices); NOVEL (Kansas City Public Theatre, Charlotte Street Foundation). Ryan is a contributor for The Infatuation and has been published in USA Today, The Fulcrum, and The Oxford Political Review, and worked with CONAN and The Onion. The companion podcast 50 States of Mind won the King’s Hall Grant and can be heard where podcasts are found. You may have seen him chatting with Helen Mirren as a Slytherin contestant on the quiz show HARRY POTTER: TOURNAMENT OF HOUSES hosted by Helen Mirren on TBS. Ryan has won Webby and Gold Telly Awards with the The Trevor Project creative team where he oversees storytelling strategy to end suicide among LGBTQ young people.
Is America as divided as it seems? Oxford University graduate student Ryan Bernsten takes a 23,000-mile journey through all 50 states of his home country to answer that question. 50 States of Mind: A Journey to Rediscover American Democracy is a work of travel nonfiction in the style of Alexis de Tocqueville that takes readers on a long and winding journey through all 50 states to explore the complexities of today’s America. Leading with the desire to listen and overcome preconceived notions, Bernsten ultimately offers a hopeful vision for the future of America as he embarks on a search for meaning and reflects on what it means to be American. The companion podcast “50 States of Mind,” featured in Condé Nast Traveler, showcases live interviews from the journey and is available on all podcast platforms. 50 States of Mind has been featured on Kansas City NPR, Two Broads Talking Politics, Sanity, Chicago Indivisible, Northwestern Intersections, Travel For a Loop, and in The Pitch and Condé Nast Traveler.
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The 29 Best Places To Eat & Drink In Kansas City - The Infatuation
How to Support LGBTQ Young People Ahead of the Election - The Trevor Project
What Trevor Learned on the Ground at the Walkouts and Rallies in Florida - The Trevor Project
"50 States of Mind – What Americans could learn from a visit to all 50 states" - Oxford Political Review
"Enough of the Social Media OUTRAGE" - USA Today
"Dream Ticket brings satirical Republican politics through Ryan Bernsten’s highly focused Democratic lens to shed light on our corrupt love of candidacy drama, instead of where the focus should really be—on the American people." - Theatre is Easy
"With comedy like "Veep", drama like "Scandal" and Sorkin-esque wisdom and sensibility, Dream Ticket by Ryan Bernsten is an aptly timed political play." - Theatre in the Now
ATLANTIC: AMERICA & THE GREAT WAR
"... a moving and dramatic piece of theatre." - British Theatre Guide
"tackl[es] what it means to be American. The themes and dialogue allow us to look back in glorious hindsight to the faults of the time, while the emphasis on the dangers of the media draws relevant parallels with present times... and is undoubtedly an excellent theatre piece." - EdfestMagazine
Two ambitious writers mine their trauma to create a masterpiece in a writing program helmed by a horror novelist, only to find themselves trapped in a twisted experiment.
Kansas City Public Theatre (TheatreLab 2024)
Charlotte Street Foundation, 2022*
"Maniacal" - Charlotte Street Audience Member
"Twisted" - Scratch Night Feedback
WE ARE BLOOD
Is family forever? In this horror/thriller, a recently widowed New Yorker and her son return to rural Missouri to evict her estranged sister from their childhood home. Discovering the house in disrepair and the inhabitants experimenting with occult magic, the family is forced to exorcise demons from their past.
Olathe Civic Theatre Association (Production, 2023)
Angels Theatre Company (Reading Series, 2023)
Kansas City Public Theatre (Theatre Lab, 2021)
Northwestern University (Zoom Reading, 2020 password: Frances)
Ashland New Play Festival (Semifinalist, 2022)
Austin Film Festival (Semifinalist, 2020)
Rave Theatre Festival (Finalist, 2020)
Kansas City Script Circle (2020)
University of Oxford (Workshop, 2019)
THE NEW ORDER
In this post-apocalyptic thriller, a widowed mother and daughter take in survivors to help rebuild their farm. All is well until an other-worldly order of nomadic nuns arrives seeking shelter—as the Sisters start imposing their strange doctrine on the household, the tenants fight back against a dogma that is far deadlier than expected.
Kansas City Horror Play Festival, 2022
Oxford Best New Play for Voices, 2018
Corkscrew Theatre Festival, 2017
Listen to the radio play produced in partnership with Oxide radio.
DOUBLE FEATURE AT HOLLYWOOD AND VINE
Double Feature at Hollywood and Vine re-imagines Shakespeare's Twelfth Night set in 1930s Old Hollywood. When two twins are tragically separated on their journey to a better life in Los Angeles, the sister, believing her brother dead, assumes his identity to get work as a movie extra, only to take the silver screen by storm... as a man! When her brother unexpectedly arrives in Hollywood, struck with amnesia, mistaken identities, love triangles, general hilarity, and an unforgettable reunion ensue in this Shakespearean retelling.
In this political satire, a former U.S. president recruits a national joke to run in the Democratic primary, hoping to sabotage her bland husband's competition and ensure victory. However, the media's hunger for drama has unintended consequences as the power couple attempts to harness the bad press for their own ends.