Writer-Director Helping Small Professional Theatre Sustainment Fund

By Lynn Venhaus
Cory Finley first came on my radar with “The Feast,” his original play that was produced by the St. Louis Actors’ Studio in fall 2017. Since then, he has received national acclaim for two films, “Thoroughbreds” and “Bad Education.” He is definitely one to watch.

Now he is giving back to the small theater company that gave him a shot by being one of the artists trying to help STLAS and others in St. Louis through the Small Professional Theatre Sustainment Fund. This was started to help these struggling companies pay their bills until they can safely re-open.

The coronavirus pandemic has threatened extinction for millions of small businesses all over the world, including theater companies, who will continue to be hit hard as they might not receive any funding in 2021, and if they do, it would be a small amount.

“The federal government has offered some help, but small professional theaters are not in line for major funding and the existing funding that relies on tax dollars is vanishing,” said William Roth, STLAS Founder and Artistic Director. “We decided to take matters into our own hands with the creation of the Small Professional Theatre Sustainment Fund and enlisted the help of well-known St. Louisans with careers in the arts.” 

By donating to the Fund, participants are automatically entered into a drawing to win a virtual hangout with Finley or other famous St. Louis artists Sterling K. Brown, Jon Hamm, Sam McMurray, Beau Willimon, or Neil LaBute (longtime friend of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio).

For every $75 donated to www.stlas.org/sustain, the participant’s name is placed into a drawing for 50 chances to win. The more a person donates, the better their chances are for winning. Contest ends Sept. 17 and the winner will be drawn on September 18.  

During the virtual meet-up, the winner will be able to discuss anything of interest with the artist—from acting tips and insights, to fans just wanting to spend a little quality time. Names will be drawn until all artists are spoken for. For official rules and regulations, please visit the FAQ page. Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Finley wanted to get involved because he believes in their work and the mission they’re starting.

“I was lucky enough to have STLAS put on a production of my play ‘The Feast.’ I’m a huge fan of the work they’re doing and I’m very concerned about the health of theater in America generally in pandemic conditions. I think it’s a great initiative to help keep vital institutions alive,” Finley said. 

In a short-take review, I described the play this way: “One act, three actors, five genres, so says director John Pierson, who shrewdly realizes an eerie “Twilight Zone”-type mind game by Cory Finley of Clayton, Mo. The twisty-turny original play, only 65 minutes’ long, benefits from an accomplished trio of actors and Patrick Huber’s customary meticulous set and artful lighting design. Pierson’s crisp direction and keen sound design enhance the mysterious off-kilter quality.”

Pierson, a St. Louis actor, director and teacher, has been at John Burroughs School since 1993 and is chairman of the Theatre, Speech and Dance Department.

Finley, 31, a Burroughs graduate, is based in New York City, where he is a member of the Obie-winning Youngblood playwrights group at Ensemble Studio Theater. He received a commission from the Alfred P. Sloan foundation for playwrighting, and was the inaugural recipient of the Gurney Playwrights Fund for “The Feast,” which was presented first at The Flea Theater.

Three years ago this month, Finley’s play “The Feast” fit into the vision at The Gaslight Theatre, STLAS’ black-box home.

“STLAS is committed to bringing engaging theatrical experiences to our community of actors, writers, producers, filmmakers and all patrons of the arts; and to provide a strong ensemble environment to foster learning and artistic expression. Through the use of ensemble work, STLAS explore the endless facets and various themes of the human condition by producing existing and original collaborative theatre,” Roth said.

Finley received high praise for the film “Thoroughbreds,” which he adapted from his play and also directed. It was accepted for the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017, and nominated for the Audience Award in the Best of Next! competition. It played at the St. Louis International Film Festival that November. Sold to Focus Features for $5 million, the film opened in theaters in March 2018.

Finley wrote the crime-drama-dark comedy about two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut, who rekindled their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Then they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems — no matter what the cost. The cast included Anna Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke, and was the last film of Anton Yelchin, who died in a tragic accident at his home in June 2016. The film is dedicated to him.

Anton Yelchin, Cory Finley, Anya Taylor-Joy. Photo by

Indie Wire described the film as “Heathers meets American Psycho.” Rotten Tomatoes had a score of 86% and the critic consensus was: ” Thoroughbreds juggles genres with panache, delivering a well-written and refreshingly unpredictable entry in the teen thriller genre.”

In 2019, Finley scored a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay for “Thoroughbreds.” The annual awards, held since 1984, honor independent filmmakers working with small budgets. For more information on the film, visit www.thoroughbredsmovie.com

Last year, Finley directed “Bad Education,” which was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019 and sold to HBO for $20 million. HBO aired it April 25 this year (Currently available in HBOMax catalog) and as of Sept. 8, it is available on DVD and Blu-Ray. It is also available for rental or purchase on streaming platforms.

“Bad Education” is nominated for two Emmy Awards — Best Television Movie and Hugh Jackman for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. The Emmy Awards are Sunday, Sept. 20.

The film, based on a true story, focuses on the popular superintendent of New York’s Roslyn school district as well as his staff, friends and relatives who become the prime suspects as the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in American history unfolds. Former Roslyn student Mike Makowsky wrote the screenplay based on the New York Magazine article “The Bad Superintendent” by Robert Kolker.

Finley said he was drawn to the script for several reasons.

“I thought the script had a really unique tone, a complex character at its center, and themes about greed, institutional failure and systemic corruption that spoke to me,” he said.

And working with the cast was a positive experience.

Jackman played Frank Tassone, who was sentenced to 4 to 12 years for the $11.2 million embezzling scheme, and Alison Janney played Pam Gluckin, an assistant superintendent who took part in the scheme.

“I was enormously lucky that my A-list cast all had the work ethic and humility of actors just starting off: particularly Hugh and Alison made my job incredibly easy and were intensely collaborative and open, as well as super-prepared,” Finley said.

He said he is not at liberty to divulge his next project just yet..

How has he been coping with the pandemic in New York?

“My partner is a medical resident who got pulled into the COVID ward right at the height of the pandemic, so I had a very intense view of the worst of it through her. But she’s now back home doing tele-health and things are much more normal,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have a job that I can do from home — the writing and prep parts of my job at least — and so I’m far less affected than many New Yorkers have been.”

What has he learned during this time of quarantine?

“It’s a total cliche, but I’ve learned how important a sense of social community is, and how badly we all need it back,” he said.

Cory FInley at Film Independent Spirit Awards. Photo by Kevin Mazur.

Q&A QUESTIONS FOR “TAKE TEN”
1. Why did you choose your profession? 
I always loved creating and managing made-up worlds: first pretend games, then Dungeons and Dragons, then school plays, then  directing film. 

2. How would your friends describe you?
Tall, polite, bad at remembering things, dad jokes, no sense of direction. 

3. How do you like to spend your spare time?
Playing basketball with great enthusiasm and minimal ability. 

4. What is your current obsession? 
Youtube chiropractic adjustment videos. Also, archived Firing Line videos of William F. Buckley debating prominent leftists of the 60s — Noam Chomsky, James Baldwin, Huey Newton. They show at once how far our politics have come and how little our discourse has changed. 

5. Who do you admire most?
In no particular order: Caryl Churchill, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Lebron James. 

6. What is your favorite thing to do in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area?
Ted Drewes and the Tivoli Theatre.  

More to Know:
Name: Cory Finley
Age: 31
Birthplace: St. Louis, MO (Clayton, specifically)
Current location: Manhattan
Day job: Many years SAT/ACT tutoring
Favorite movies: Brief EncounterThere Will Be Blood


The Fabulous Fox Theatre has announced the cancellation of the remaining shows on its 2020 calendar:  A Christmas Carol and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the Musical.  Both shows were December specials on the U. S. Bank Broadway Season and neither had been put on sale.  “We look forward to resuming a full holiday schedule in 2021” said John O-Brien, director of programming for the Fabulous Fox.

Limited Tours of the Fabulous Fox Theatre have resumed. Tours will be conducted on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and include a presentation on the Wurlitzer organ.  Advance purchase is required at FabulousFox.com or by calling MetroTix at 314-534-1111. Tickets will be delivered to guests’ mobile devices.  In order to avoid contact, paper tickets will not be issued.   Ticket sales will close at 5 p.m. the Friday prior to each tour.  The Fox Box office is currently closed and tickets will not be available for purchase on the Saturday of the tour.

In order to assure the safety of our guests and guides, in addition to touch-less ticketing, the following protocols will be followed.  All guests are required to wear masks and will have their temperature taken with no-touch devices before entering the theatre.  Fox tour guides and personnel will wear masks and will have their temperature taken when they check in for duty. Social distancing will be practiced and monitored during the entire tour experience.  Each tour’s capacity is limited to 15 guests.  The theatre will be thoroughly cleaned with emphasis on high touch areas prior to each tour.

By Lynn Venhaus

America, we have a problem. It should be a given – one voice, one vote – but it’s not, as this film illustrates. Timely and powerful, “All In: The Fight for Democracy” should be required viewing for all citizens. When our country began, only 6% of the public could vote, and that included the rich, white landowners – not women or minorities. Voter suppression only isn’t in our nation’s history – it’s in our present. Cut to modern day politics, where it is a very real threat to democracy.

This documentary examines voter suppression in both the past and present U.S. and gives us an insider’s look into laws and barriers to voting. There are real threats to the basic rights of U.S. citizens to vote, and with a Presidential Election looming, the film highlights what needs to be done so everyone has their voice heard.

Impassioned filmmakers Lisa Cortes and Liz Garbus interweave personal experiences with current activism and historical insight. Garbus was Oscar-nominated for two documentaries, “What Happened, Miss Simone?” (for which she won an Emmy) and “The Farm: Angola, USA.” She directed two episodes and produced the HBO mini-series “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.” Cortes won an Emmy last year for the documentary “The Apollo.”

Stacey Abrams

Front and center is Stacey Abrams, the former Minority Leader of the George House of Representatives, whose loss in the gubernatorial race is still suspect. Abrams was the first black woman to become a major party’s nominee in the U.S.

After losing in an unfair fight to the Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Abrams has turned her focus on exposing corruption and creating awareness. She is the founder of Fair Fight Action, a national organization battling voter suppression. She encourages you to get involved and make sure elections are fair.

Most importantly, the film shows how people can fight for the right to vote and lets you know about the tools needed to protect this right.

Janelle Monae has written a song for the film called “Turntables.” Here is the link to the music video: https://youtu.be/8CFrCk6_0rM

The film is a call to action – it will make you want to do something. And that’s a good thing. We should all take part in our democracy, because as we have learned – it is precious.

The film is also part of an ambitious and visionary action plan to reach voters and educate them across this nation that Amazon is supporting, and so are the filmmakers.

#ALLINFORVOTING is a social impact campaign with community-based organizations, non-profits, corporations, artists, activists and influencers. It is being launched ahead of National Voter Registration Day – Sept. 22 – and in coordination with the film release.

The non-partisan campaign will develop a groundswell of digital content to combat misinformation about the voting process, and launch targeted campaign programming to educate and register first-time voters, mobilize communities to have their voices and values counted in the November election (and beyond), and train citizens to know how to recognize and report voter suppression.

There will be on online digital action hub featuring resources and tools for visitors to register to vote, check registration status, get election reminders, find their polling place, access state by state election information, see what’s on my ballot, request an absentee ballot and learn how to recognize and report voter suppression.

The documentary “All In: The Fight for Democracy” is directed by Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes. Rated: PG-13 for some disturbing violent images, thematic material and strong language – all involving racism, the run time is 1 hour, 42 minutes. Lynn’s Grade: A
In Theatres Sept. 9 and streaming on Amazon Prime Sept. 18
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The 25th Annual St. Louis Jewish Film Festival will have a new and exciting look and feel this year. From Sunday, November 9 through Thursday, November 15 the Festival will present a wonderful selection of 12 documentary and narrative feature films from around the world virtually, so you can watch them in the comfort of your home…either on your computer or TV! While all films depict a slice of the Jewish experience, the films are universal and meant to be appealing to all, regardless of faith.

Music and Broadway play a big part in this year’s festival including Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles, an incredible tale of the world wide influence of the famous musical, Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds, a portrait of Zuben Mehta, Conductor of the Israeli Philharmonic and Crescendo a feature about young Palestinian and Israeli musicians who try to find common ground through music. Remarkable historic figures will be showcased in The Spy Behind Home Plate, a documentary about Mo Berg, professional baseball player and Spy during WWII, and Golda, a window into the life and career of Israel’s only female Prime Minister. Holy Silence, looks into the role of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust and Shared Legacies examines the shared struggles of Blacks and Jews in the US. There is also a comedy called Love in Suspenders.  Features originate from France, Germany, Uzbekistan, Israel, Poland and the United States.

Many of the filmmakers will be on hand for interactive film discussions the week of the Jewish Film Festival. For a complete list of films and discussions, go to www.stljewishfilmfestival.org.

All films will be available for viewing throughout the festival and screened virtually through the film platform Eventive.  Ticket prices are $14 for each individual film and for the first time an all access pass can be purchased for $95. View the complete Film Festival schedule and buy tickets at stljewishfilmfestival.org starting on September 8.

This year’s Jewish Film Festival co-chairs are Marilyn K. Brown, Jeffrey Korn and Paula Sigel. The Jewish Film Festival is a program of the Jewish Community Center.

ABOUT THE J:
The J is an interactive, multi-generational gathering place that offers a variety of programs and services to both the St. Louis Jewish community, and the community at large. The Jewish Community Center provides educational, cultural, social, Jewish identity-building and recreational programming and offers two, state-of-the art fitness facilities, all designed to promote physical and spiritual growth. Everyone is welcome at the J.

By Lynn Venhaus
A sweeping, sprawling epic adventure brimming with elegance and emotion, “Mulan” triumphs as one of Disney’s best makeovers.

The vibrant live action remake features gorgeous panoramic views, stunning symmetry, a bold palette and strong, colorful characters to advance the action.

The epic tale of China’s legendary warrior is brought to life in this live action re-imagining of the 1998 animated film. A fearless young woman, Hua Mulan (Yifei Liu) risks everything out of love for her family and country when the Emperor of China (Jet Li) issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from northern invaders. As the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, Mulan steps in to take the place of her ailing father, and masquerades as a man. When she harnesses her inner strength and reveals her true potential, she becomes an honored warrior and saves the dynasty.

Yifei Liu

A star is born in Yifei Liu, who commands the screen in much the same way as Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman in recent DC movies, You can’t take your eyes off of Liu, who depicts how brave and strong Mulan is. She also did 90 percent of the stunts, and showcases remarkable martial arts skills.

Much of the original has been scrapped to start over with a culturally appropriate story that involves more realism in characters – and a cast of Asian actors. Gone is Mushu, the dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy, and others that aren’t necessary here.

This 2020 version is not a musical like the 1998 animated film was. However, the musical’s original song “Reflection” is used over the credits here, first sung by Christina Aguilera in English and then sung by lead Yifei Liu in Mandarin.

Suggested by the poem, “The Legend of Mulan,” this bracing spectacle is laser-focused on the talented warrior who happens to be a girl, born at a time when only men were in combat. Tomboy Mulan is expected to get married to bring honor to her family, but instead Hua Mulan takes the place of her ailing father in the Imperial Army who must fend off the Rourans’ attempts to take over. She must disguise herself but her martial arts abilities are too strong to hide, and eventually, she shows what a powerful and swift fighting machine she is. In other words, she has great ‘chi’ energy.

Nevertheless, she is conflicted about her lie, as honesty is part of the warrior’s code. She wrestles with the consequences of her actions, but truth wins out.

The screenplay is by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who are married and responsible for the three rebooted “Planet of the Apes” films as well as “Jurassic World,” along with Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin. They cut to the chase, conveying culture and conflict specific to the story.

The ensemble is strong, with good work by Tzi Ma as Mulan’s father Hua Zhou, Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Yosan An as Mulan’s soldier friend Honghui, Jet Li as the emperor, Jason Scott Lee as Bori Khan and Gong Li as the witch Xianglang.

Director Niki Caro, who helmed “Whale Rider” in her native New Zealand, and in recent years “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and “McFarland, USA,” captures the grandeur and excels at the battle scenes, but maintains an intimacy that makes us care about Mulan’s plight.

The cinematography by Mandy Walker is stunning – and hopefully we can see this on the big screen someday.

While the intense action has merited the first PG-13 for a Disney live-action remake, older children can appreciate the devotion to family theme as well as not accepting limits to what you can do in life. Its focus on empowerment and inclusion is also timely and important.

“Mulan” is an action-adventure directed by Niki Caro and starring Yifei Liu, Jason Scott Lee, Tzi Ma, Donnie Yen, Yosan An, Jet Li, Gong Li. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, the run time is: 1 hour, 55 minutes. Lynn’s Grade: A-. Disney Plus is releasing it Sept. 4 for a fee of $29.99. In December, subscribers to the streaming channel will not be charged an additional fee.

By Lynn Venhaus
For all his technical brilliance, Christopher Nolan’s ambition and vision sometimes impede his screenplays from making sense. And despite its dazzling action scenes, “Tenet” can’t overcome an unwieldy time-travel plot to make us care – about the future, present or past on screen.

The dangerous time-bending mission is to prevent the start of World War III.

Basically, this jumbo-sized James Bond-type thriller, complete with fabulous gadgets and zippy globe-trotting, is complicated, trying to employ algorithms and explain inversion in its race to thwart doomsday. The layers are murky, the dialogue isn’t always convincing and the complexities lead to overthinking. By midway, it’s a lot to keep straight.

As a director, Nolan’s bombast and daring are unmatched today. And for every letdown like “Interstellar,” there is a masterpiece like “The Dark Knight.” That’s why I look forward to his films, and this one drew me into a theater for the first time since mid-March.

Its stunning set pieces – especially an airport scene and a highway car chase that features speeding cars going backwards, are quite something, and make it a blockbuster worthy of the big screen (and IMAX if you want the upgrade).

As a writer, Nolan’s obsession with puzzles, obviously one of his signatures, and his ability to frame a shot with the fanaticism of a Kubrick, is admirable, but he is often too cold and clinical. With little backstory, we aren’t sympathetic to the principal characters or drawn into their world, with the exception of Elizabeth Debicki, a strikingly beautiful and tall actress playing the Hitchcock blonde, art dealer Kat. She married a vicious oligarch and arms dealer Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh), who is keeping her estranged from her young son. And he has plutonium. And tons of money.

Branagh chews the scenery in a cartoonish role, and his thick Russian accent doesn’t help in deciphering his threats, as he attempts to be menacing with a steady monotone.

The Protagonist, John David Washington, seems miscast. As good as he was in “BlacKkKlansman,” he appears ill-at-ease here, and it’s not just in the fancy suits to convince others he has wealth. On the other hand, Robert Pattinson is fine as his handler, the mysterious Neil. We don’t know much about him by design, but he and Washington make a good pair.

Clues are dispensed in a frustrating fashion. Oh, there are many big ideas, paradoxes, secrets — and plenty of head-scratching, but by the third act, interest fades. At 150 minutes, it is not exactly taut, although the action is fluid. When military guys in shields show up in droves, and the visors make them unrecognizable, that is a problem.

Nolan is very serious here – maybe too serious. He is good at harrowing — it just always seems we are kept at a distance. Think of this as “Inception” times 10.

“People saw the world for what might have been,” one character says at the end. This did not help me in understanding.

I don’t go to movies to do math. And you shouldn’t have to see a movie again to figure it out, although I’m not sure a second viewing would help anyway, because the story is too convoluted, not to mention flat dialogue and sound-mixing issues.

The movie is very loud – but Ludwig Goransson’s musical score effectively ratchets up danger and suspense with its ominous tone. Goransson won an Oscar for the “Black Panther” score.

The Nolan production team is stellar – magnificent cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema and smart, crisp editing from Jennifer Lame are among its virtues.

For all its pomp, “Tenet” was a victim of circumstance with its release delayed by the coronavirus global pandemic. It has pulled us back in to theaters, but its lack of connection makes the flaws stand out more than the spectacle.

“Tenet” is an action, suspense film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debecki, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Caine and Hamish Patel. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some suggestive references and brief strong language. Run-time is 150 minutes. Released on Sept. 3 in movie theaters and IMAX.
Lynn’s Grade: C+
A version of this review was published in the Webster-Kirkwood Times.

Stages St. Louis has announced the launch of The STAGES Collection, a creative online shopping division. One of a kind, handmade items designed and built by Stages artists, will be available beginning Sept. 1.

Executive Director Jack Lane said in a time when the creative process must be taken to new heights, we are thrilled to unveil a new line of collectibles hand made by the immensely talented STAGES artisans. Our productions have always been known for their incredible attention to design details, and The STAGES Collection is no exception. As with our productions, we have aimed to create a “jewel box” of quality and aesthetic with this unique Collection.

Living in a new era where traditional fundraising needs to think way outside of the box, we have gathered our designers to create items of both stunning beauty and heart-felt whimsy.  These one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted items are sure to make you, your family, and your friends smile with an appreciation for happier times to come. And why not make them come sooner by purchasing one or more of our original designs from The STAGES Collection. You’ll not only be adding some joy to your life, you’ll also be supporting STAGES St. Louis as we maneuver our way through these challenging financial times.

These items were specifically chosen to create happiness for all those who choose to purchase from the Collection. Whether playing games with loved ones, pushing forward with the upcoming holiday season, or reflecting on stunning home decor, there is truly something for everyone in The STAGES Collection!

We invite you to take a stroll through our online shop and visualize how so many of them would be perfect for you and your loved ones. Personally, I’ve already put in orders for every item we are making. And we also consult on additional special items, such as hand crafted furniture and elaborate sets of jewelry. Our artisans are remarkable and are happy to work with you as you generously support STAGES.

Ordering is easy! Simply follow the instructions on the order form or call 314.604.6127 for any specific questions. Pick up is easy too, as we’ll have specific weekday hours for you to receive your purchases in a safe and timely manner.

Enjoy looking through The STAGES Collection. And thank you for helping to support STAGES as we head into our 35th Anniversary in the beautiful new Kirkwood Performing Arts Center, Lane said.

For more information, visit https://stagesstlouis.org/shop/

Innovative Virtual Theatrical Experiences Begin This Fall

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is thrilled to announce a return to live, in-person performances in March 2021.

“Over the past months we have not been able to gather together in the theater, but the hunger for storytelling that illuminates our humanity is fiercer than ever,” said Hana S. Sharif, The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director. “I still believe that great art can transform lives, so we have adapted this season to create unique and safe opportunities to bring arts to our community.”

In March, The Rep shares joy and laughter with the family-friendly musical Little Shop of Horrors at the Loretto-Hilton Center, and May brings the majestic and powerful Mlima’s Tale by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage, at the state-of-the-art Catherine B. Berges Theatre at COCA. Focused on the well-being of the St. Louis community, The Rep continues to develop safety plans for all in-person performances.

In addition to these two productions, Rep artists are hard at work creating a hybrid of interactive, site-specific and virtual experiences that make theatre more accessible for everyone. The Rep will announce these exciting initiatives throughout the fall and winter.

The first virtual event of the 20-21 season is a free staged reading of Black Like Me by Monty Cole, based on the memoir of the same name by John Howard Griffin.

This noir docu-drama tells the true story of a white journalist in 1959 who temporarily dyed his skin in an effort to experience life as a Black man. Playwright/Director Cole created modern-day Black characters to reenact the story, respond in real time to the events of the play and wrestle with their own concepts of equality and social justice. The one-night-only staged reading of Black Like Me is free and available for online streaming anywhere in the world on September 10 at 7:30 p.m. CDT. People can register here to reserve a virtual “seat.”  

Rep subscriptions are on sale now. Single tickets go on sale February 15, 2021. For tickets or more information, call The Rep Box Office Monday through Friday between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 314-968-4925, or visit repstl.org.

ABOUT THE REPERTORY THEATRE ST. LOUIS

The Rep is the St. Louis region’s most honored live professional theatre company. Founded in 1966, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is a fully professional theatrical operation belonging to the League of Resident Theatres, The League of St. Louis Theatres and is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national service organization for the not-for-profit professional theatre. www.repstl.org.

SATE presents Project Verse: Creativity in the Time of Quarantine  
in collaboration with COCA and Prison Performing Arts,  Featuring two new plays —  Quatrains in Quarantine by e.k. doolin and Dream On, Black Girl: Reflections in Quarantine by Maxine du Maine  Premiering online Aug. 28, 2020 at 7 p.m.(CST) Presented free of charge on SATE’s website (slightlyoff.org), Facebook page (facebook.com/satestl), Instagram @satestl. 

Maxine du Maine

 SATE presents the culminating week of Project Verse, a three-week collaboration with COCA and Prison Performing Arts (PPA) as education and engagement partners. COCA presented the artist talks on their Facebook page to celebrate the creativity of those who are caregivers and artists.

Artist talks included poetry with jessica Care moore and King Thomas Moore on August 12 and visual arts with Maxine du Maine on August 19. The final week’s offering on August 26 was dance and poetry with Delaney Piggins and Norah Brozio.  Quatrains in Quarantine was written by e.k. doolin in response to a call for scripts based in the Zoom platform. The call was issued by COCA (Center of Creative Arts).

The COCAwrites program seeks to produce works that are intended for a multi-generational audience. Cara is a young poet, trying to process the unprecedented time she is living through in the best way she knows how – her verse. Nicole is her mother, trying to survive another day of uncertainty and working/parenting simultaneously from home. Mimi is her friend, seemingly winning at all things. JJ is her brother, absent in more ways than one. 

Quatrains in Quarantine is directed by Ellie Schwetye and features Rachel Tibbetts and Clayton High School students Claudia Taylor, Anna Lawrence, and Tommy Karandjeff.  Dream On, Black Girl: Reflections in Quarantine, written and directed by Maxine du Maine, focuses on a writing teacher guiding two young ladies through a poetry class on Zoom.

Both students share poems that reflect on the tragedies that continue to plague their community during the quarantine. The poems in the play are inspired by the young black children that were quarantined before COVID-19. They spent their time in a juvenile detention center reflecting on their lives, experiences and emotions through powerful art and writing.  Young black youth are tomorrow’s leaders and deserve a platform to represent themselves accurately in the media and have their voice heard. 

Dream On, Black Girl: Reflections in Quarantine is their platform. The performing ensemble includes Maxine du Maine, Gabby Eubanks, and Alana Wilson. 


 Please call (314) 827-5760, email [email protected], or visit the SATE website at slightlyoff.org for more information.  Project Verse is made possible by funding from COCA, Prison Performing Arts, Regional Arts Commission, and SATE.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis invites audiences to witness the new play development process firsthand on September 10 with a virtual, staged reading of Black Like Me by Monty Cole, based on the memoir of the same name by John Howard Griffin. This entertaining noir docu-drama examines the fine line between allyship and appropriation.

In 1959, a white journalist sought a doctor’s help to temporarily darken his skin so he could “pass” as Black. He traveled the segregated South for three weeks and published his experiences in 1961. Griffin’s journal has been celebrated by many as an indictment of racism, while others have described it as patronizing or offensive.

Chicago-based artist Monty Cole was compelled to express the conflicting feelings he experienced while reading the book, so he created modern-day Black characters to reenact the story, respond in real time to the events of the play and wrestle with their own concepts of equality and social justice. The piece is a captivating juxtaposition of historical and contemporary, analytical and emotional, lighthearted and heartbreaking.

“As I read Griffin’s book, I was simultaneously enticed and repulsed, understanding and critical, pushing back against it and being sucked into the Twilight Zone aspect of it,” said Cole. 

The Chicago-based cast and artistic team include Director/Playwright: Monty Cole, Dramaturg: Regina Victor, Project Manager: Christopher Maxwell and Actors: Adia Alli, Breon Arzell, Brianna Buckley, McKenzie Chinn, Joe Dempsey, Eric Gerard, Daniel Kyri and Netta WalkerThey will workshop the script for four days and record a staged reading, incorporating the changes honed during those rehearsals. Fans of The Rep’s Ignite New Play Festival know the electricity of offering input that helps a new play come to life.

“Of the many doors that theatre opens, civic dialogue is one of my favorites,” said Hana S. Sharif, The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director. “Monty Cole’s brilliant new play is a compassionate and creative entry point. The Rep is thrilled to elevate this artist and this work.”

The one-night-only staged reading of Black Like Me is free and available for online streaming anywhere in the world on September 10, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. CST. There are a limited number of “seats,” so don’t wait to register. Visit this link to reserve your online viewing and experience this theatrical event from the comfort of your home.

For more information, visit repstl.org or call The Rep Box Office at 314-968-4925 Mondays through Fridays between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

ABOUT PLAYWRIGHT/DIRECTOR MONTY COLE

Monty Cole

Cole is a Chicago-based director, producer and playwright who has workshopped and directed new plays and re-imaginings of classic texts around the country, working with significant companies such as Steppenwolf, Center Theatre Group, The Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Cape Cod Theatre Project, Alley Theatre All New Festival, American Theatre Company, California Institute of the Arts and others. He directed the Jeff Award winning production of The Hairy Ape for Oracle Productions. Cole has a BFA in Theatre Studies from Emerson College and an MFA in Directing from the California Institute of the Arts. www.monty-cole.com

ABOUT THE REPERTORY THEATRE ST. LOUIS

The Rep is the St. Louis region’s most honored live professional theatre company. Founded in 1966, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is a fully professional theatrical operation belonging to the League of Resident Theatres, The League of St. Louis Theatres and is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national service organization for the not-for-profit professional theatre. www.repstl.org