:September 2021 will mark the restart of St. Louis Actors’ Studio’s Fourteenth season themed “The Lost Episodes”.The world is finally returning to normalcy and with that, STLAS is excited to get back at it. Producing word-class, thought-provoking entertainment at our intimate Gaslight Theater. We cannot wait to see you in the fall! Season subscriptions are the best way to experience St. Louis Actors’ Studio–you get a discount and no-hassle ticket exchanges and reserved seat signage. Let’s come back strong – get a group together this season and make a year of it!Our 2021-22 season, “The Lost Episodes.”
“The Zoo Story/The Dumb Waiter” by Edward Albee/Harold Pinter Directed by Wayne Salomon, Starring William Roth* September 17 – October 3, 2021 Classic early one act plays by two giants of the theatre. Edward Albee and Harold Pinter. THE ZOO STORY – A man sits peacefully reading in the sunlight in Central Park. There enters a second man. He is a young, unkempt and undisciplined vagrant where the first is neat, ordered, well-to-do and conventional. The vagrant is a soul in torture and rebellion. He longs to communicate so fiercely that he frightens and repels his listener. He is a man drained of all hope who, in his passion for company, seeks to drain his companion. With provocative humor and unrelenting suspense, the young savage slowly, but relentlessly, brings his victim down to his own atavistic level as he relates a story about his visit to the zoo.
“Edward Albee is a voice unparalleled in American theater.” —NY Times. “The dialogue crackles and the tension runs high.” —Associated Press. “Darkly comic and thrilling.” —Time Out NY
THE DUMB WAITER: As the New York World-Telegram & Sun describes: “In the basement of a long-abandoned restaurant, two hired killers nervously await their next assignment. Barred from daylight and living public contact by the nature of their work, they expend their waiting time in bickering. So eerie is the situation that everything becomes comic, or grotesque, or both. Ben re-reading a newspaper and exclaiming in disbelief over the news items, Gus fussing with an offstage stove and offstage plumbing. Ben bludgeoning Gus into silence if he as much as mentions their work. Gus worrying that someone had slept in his bed. So then the ancient dumbwaiter comes to life, the suspense becomes almost unbearable—that expertly has Pinter put the nerves of his characters and audience on edge.
“A distinguished gift for sheer, old-fashioned theatrical effectiveness, including the use of melodramatic suspense and the hint of sinister forces lying in ambush.” —NY Post Statesman
“Comfort” By Neil LaBute Directed by Associate Artistic Director, Annamaria Pileggi, Starring Kari Ely* and Spencer Sickmann* December 3 – December 19, 2021 A new play by STLAS friend and associate Neil LaBute in which a successful author and her son meet after some time apart and revisit their troubled relationship. What’s at stake? Whether or not the instinctive bond between mother and child can survive not just the past, but also two new book deals.
“Mr. LaBute is writing some of the freshest and most illuminating American dialogue to be heard anywhere these days.” —NY Times.
“No contemporary writer has more astutely captured the brutality in everyday conversation and behavior: That kind of insight requires sensitivity and soul-searching.” —USA Today . “It is tight, tense and emotionally true, and it portrays characters who actually seem part of the world that the rest of us live in.” —Time.
“Hand To God” by Robert Askins Directed by Associate Artistic Director, John Pierson Starring Eric Dean White* and Colleen Backer February 18- March 6, 2022 After the death of his father, meek Jason finds an outlet for his anxiety at the Christian Puppet Ministry, in the devoutly religious, relatively quiet small town of Cypress, Texas. Jason’s complicated relationships with the town pastor, the school bully, the girl next door, and—most especially—his mother are thrown into upheaval when Jason’s puppet, Tyrone, takes on a shocking and dangerously irreverent personality all its own. HAND TO GOD explores the startlingly fragile nature of faith, morality, and the ties that bind us.
“The fearsome critter [Tyrone], who takes possession of a troubled teenager’s left arm in Robert Askins’ darkly delightful play really inspires goose bumps as he unleashes a reign of terror…But he’s also flat-out hilarious, spewing forth acid comedy that will turn those goose bumps into guffaws.” —The New York Times.
“Furiously funny…Askins’ most impressive talent is his ability to make us laugh while juggling those big themes that make life so terrifying: death, depression, alcoholism, sexual guilt, emotional repression, religious hypocrisy and the eternal battle between your good puppet and your bad puppet.” —Variety.
“A scabrously funny scenario that steadily darkens into suspense and Grand Guignol horror, this fiery clash of the id, ego and superego is also an audacious commentary on the uses of faith, both to comfort and control us.” —The Hollywood Reporter.
“I don’t know which I want to do more: Sing Hallelujah—or wash its dirty little mouth out with soap. …Clearly a singular vision is at work here, with playwright Robert Askins venturing successfully into territory—satire—rich with potholes.” —Deadline.
“HAND TO GOD is so ridiculously raunchy, irreverent and funny it’s bound to leave you sore from laughing. Ah, hurts so good.” —New York Daily News.
9th Annual LaBute New Theater Festival July 8-31, 2022 A Celebrated month-long festival of world premiere one-act plays. *Member Actors’ Equity Association
St. Louis Theater Circle Awards Ceremony Cancelled, AFL’s Theatre Mask Awards Moved to July
By Lynn Venhaus
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, productions scheduled in March, April and May at New Jewish Theatre, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, Tennessee Williams Festival, Upstream Theater, West End Players Guild and the Playhouse at Westport have announced postponements, some with new dates and others to be determined.
The Kranzberg Arts Foundation has closed all its venues.
St. Louis Theater Circle has cancelled the March 30 Awards Ceremony and Arts For Life has pushed back its annual Theatre Mask Awards. Metro Theatre Company has announced some changes in scheduling.
Here is the most up-to-date information available, and updates will be happening as we get word.
The companies are following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines for social distancing, which has recommended limiting gatherings of no more than 50 for the next eight weeks. St. Louis City and St. Louis County have banned such public gatherings.
On Monday, the White House advised the public to avoid groups of more than 10 and urged older people to stay at home for the next 15 days in a set of new guidelines designated to fight a spreading coronavirus outbreak.
Kranzberg Arts Foundation They announced Tuesday that they have followed the recommendations and guidelines put in place by our government and health officials and have moved to shut down all Kranzberg Arts Foundation venue operations. This includes theatres, galleries, clubs, restaurants, cafes, and libraries. For the time being, our tenant and resident organization offices remain open. These closures will remain in place until at least May 11:
The Grandel Theatre
The Kranzberg Studio, Black Box, and Gallery
Sophie’s Artist Lounge
The Dark Room
To ticket holders, MetroTix will be reaching out and instructing guests to respond with “refund” or “donate”. “While this is a difficult time for everyone, arts organizations and artists will be particularly impacted by COVID-19 and the disruption to their jobs. We’re asking for guests, as they are able to, to consider donating to the organizations instead of asking for a refund,” Executive Director Chris Hansen said.
“We will continue to work with our funding partners and local government agencies to find ways to help support artists and arts organizations through these unprecedented times and to make sure the arts are still felt and present in people’s daily lives,” he said.
“We will stay connected through social media and other digital platforms and will share resources, updates, and next steps as frequently as possible,: Hansen said.
West End Players Guild West End Players Guild said Monday that Steven Dietz’s “Bloomsday,” originally scheduled for April 17 – 26, has been cancelled as the season’s final show but will be rescheduled in September as the first show of the 2020-2021 season.
WEPG said online ticket purchasers will receive an automatic full refund through Brown Paper Tickets. “Please allow two weeks for the refund to be posted to your credit card. Season ticket holders will be advised of refund options this week by email,” the statement said.
New Jewish Theatre New Jewish Theatre has moved “We Are the Levinsons” to May 6 0 17. The St. Louis premiere had been scheduled to open this Thursday and run from March 19 to April 5.
A comedy that tugs on your heart, it centers on Rosie, a divorced fiftyish TV writer with an insufferable 21 year-old daughter, who suddenly finds herself responsible for her father’s care. This thoughtful and earnest play delves into some difficult but universal passages of life. We all must give up the insolence of youth and take on the mantle of adulthood. Along the way are opportunities to love and to pursue our dreams. We are the Levinsons teaches us how we should cherish these moments with tenderness and with laughter.
At the Fox Theatre, the touring production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which had been set to open Tuesday, March 17 and run through, has been postponed but a new date has not been announced.
“We are working with the producers of the show to reschedule for dates in the near future and I will be sure to keep you updated!” Publicity Manager Megan Ketcherside said.
“We appreciate your support and please know that the health and safety of our guests is always our top priority. We will continue to look to our government and health professionals for guidance as we work through this unprecedented time in our history.,” she said.
As of March 17 announcement, “Cats” scheduled for April 7-19 and Chaka Khan scheduled for April 24 are postpone until a future date can be determined.
The Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation’s 10th annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition Finals are being moved from Saturday, April 4, to a later date, to be determined.
In the spirit of fostering the emerging talent in the St. Louis performing arts community, the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation is proud to underwrite and produce an adjudicated competition showcasing the talented teens of the St. Louis region. Students are competing for college scholarships, cash awards, prizes, and public appearance opportunities
The Playhouse @ Westport
All March events are presently cancelled, including Flanagan’s Wake due to the updated information and recommendations implemented to regarding Covid-19. “Flanagan’s Wake” had been extended through April 11, with a special St. Patrick’s Day performance March 17.
John Denver Tribute May 7-10 and Rockin’ Chair June 5 and 6 are still scheduled.
Refunds are available at point of purchase.
St. Louis Actors’ Studio
The St. Louis Actors’ Studio has postponed its world premiere of Neil LaBute’s “Comfort,” that was to run from April 17 to May 3 at the Gaslight Theatre, but is providing an offer for online content.
“STLAS to offer Neil LaBute’s 10 x 10 series as exclusive streaming content for its current subscribers (new subscribers to the 20/21 season) and ticket holders and will postpone the world premiere of LaBute’s play “Comfort,” said William Roth, founder and artistic director.
“While we wait at home for the virus to settle, Neil and I quickly put our heads together to see how we could entertain our best patrons as we figure out how to navigate these ever-changing waters. Neil has been so very generous to us and he truly appreciates, as I do, our ongoing collaboration as well as the patrons and artists of St. Louis.” Roth said.
Each of the 10-minute films features one actor telling their story directly to the viewer. The first five feature Frederick Weller (In Plain Sight, The Good Wife), St. Louisan Jenna Fischer (The Office), Louisa Krause (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Young Adult), Richard Kind (Luck, Burn Notice, Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Judith Light (Other Desert Cities, Assembled Parties).
Weller’s character is a man who relays the story of an encounter he had with a woman sitting next to him on a flight. Fisher portrays a woman telling about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband and about her new life partner. Krause’s character is a young woman who discusses the way in which she takes control of her sexual destiny. Kind portrays a man discussing his feelings about his long-time marriage and his views on same-sex marriage as well. Light becomes a woman remembering the ‘man who got away’ while discussing her former marriage and her new boyfriend.
The second five feature Adam Brody (Some Girls), Maggie Grace (Taken; Taken 2), Jason Patric (Your Friends and Neighbors), Amy Madigan (Gone Baby Gone) and Bill Pullman (While You Were Sleeping). Each film explores the nature of human relationships, specifically themes of love and lust, told by characters at different stages in their lives.
Brody portrays a young man bemoaning his impending hair loss and talking about his ‘ideal’ woman. Grace’s character is a woman talking about a friend who was killed in a car accident while texting her boyfriend. Patric embodies a man recounting the tale of a fight between parents that he was involved in at a little league game. Madigan plays a woman confessing to slowly having lost her will to live and asks a visitor for some spiritual help. Pullman becomes a man considering the ever-changing culture around him and his evolving views on love and life
LaBute explains, “The series was initially written as exclusive content for DIRECTV’s ‘AUDIENCE CHANNEL’ and has been rarely seen since its initial airing on television. 10 X 10 is a collection of original monologues— five men, five women—that are performed directly to the camera and in real time, meaning there is no editing or camera trickery. It is all about the material and the actor, bringing each piece to the audience at home as purely and directly as possible.”
The 10 x 10 videos will be released weekly to STLAS patrons via email with password a protected link. They will also be providing in-home entertainment from the Gaslight courtesy of St. Louis Actors’ Studio as it can be generated and as regulations permit.
Details for the new dates for “Comfort” will be announced soon. The new LaBute play is about a mother and son meeting after some time apart to see if their relationship can survive the past and two new book deals.
Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis Executive Artistic Director Carrie Houk said the multiple activities of the fifth annual Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis would be moved to summer. It had been scheduled for May 7 – 17 in the Grand Center.
“After careful deliberation, we find it necessary to push the 5th Annual Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis to summer due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Our first commitment is to keeping the company and community safe.The show WILL go on. We will be announcing new dates shortly,” she said. . The multi-award-winning Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis headliner is The Rose Tattoo. There will be more than a dozen separate elements, scheduled so that attendees may attend every one during the eleven-day run, all held in the Grand Center Arts District and on The Hill. Events include:
3 productions: The Rose Tattoo, The St. Louis Rooming House Plays, Amor Perdido
Academic series, “Tennessee Williams and his Midwest Experiences”
“Williams Playwriting Initiative”
A staged reading of Glass
screenings of Italian-themed The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and Boom
Public Discussion Panels
La Dolce Vita Pool Party at the Last Hotel
Bus Tour of important Williams’ sites
“Tennessee Williams Tribute”
“In the meantime, love deeply, be kind, eat, drink, be merry and smell the roses. Lots and lots of roses!: Houk said.
Upstream Theater is postponing “Iphigenia in Splott,” set from April 17 to May 3, until the fall, Oct. 9 – 25.The regional premiere by Welsh playwright Gary Owen stars Jennifer Theby-Quinn and is directed by Patrick Siler. If you have purchased single tickets or a season passport they will honor your ticket at that time.
Stumbling around Cardiff’s gritty Splott neighborhood at 11:30 AM drunk, Effie is the kind of person you’d avoid eye contact with. You think you know her, but you really don’t—because here is someone whose life spirals through a mess of drink, drugs and drama every night, and a hangover worse than death the next day … until one night gives her a chance to be something more. Inspired by the Greek myth about a young woman offered as a human sacrifice, Gary Owen’s Iphigenia in Splott is a blisteringly poetic monologue that drives home the high price people pay for society’s shortcomings …
.Metro Theatre Company As of March 18, MTC’s artistic and administrative staff will go to a remote work model. Their physical office in Grand Center will be closed.
Their spring gala, After Dark, originally scheduled for May 7 will now be held Sept. 24. Tickets will automatically transfer to the new date. The Golden Ticket raffle will still happen digitally on May 7.
In light of school closures, for the time being MTC’s in-school arts-integrated curriculum work is paused. While we cannot be present in person in schools, our talented education team is developing digital resources to help parents supporting their children’s learning needs while they are home. Look for some of these digital resources via email and on our Facebook page in the weeks ahead, said executive director Joe Gfaller.
At this time we anticipate that our summer camps will proceed as planned, starting in June. Middle SchoolGrand Theater Camp is June 1-12; Advanced Middle School Grand Theater Camp is June 15-26; High School Grand Theater Camp is July 6-10; and Creative Arts Camp for Pre-K through 5th Grade is offered July 27-August 1 and August 3-7.
“Even as you engage in social distancing in the weeks and months ahead, we encourage you to find ways to continue to support those businesses and artists who make St. Louis such a rewarding community in which to live and raise a family. COVID-19 impacts our friends in travel and tourism, restaurants, entertainment, and small business – not to mention scores of working artsts across St. Louis,” Gfaller said.
St. Louis Theater Circle Awards
President Mark Bretz issued this statement on March 13: “In consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as decisions in the last few days by the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, the State of Missouri, Major League Baseball and many others, the upcoming St. Louis Theater Circle Awards presentation has been canceled, effective immediately.
Brown Paper Tickets said that those who already had purchased tickets to the gala, which was scheduled for Monday, March 30, will receive full refunds after contacting Brown Paper Tickets.
“We hope soon to reveal our alternative plan for announcing this year’s award recipients in each of our 34 categories. Thank you for your patience and understanding,” Bretz said.
12th Natya Indian Dance Festival – April 24- 26 – POSTPONED, Date TBD
Dedicated to Indian Classical dance, music and theatre, this year’s festival will include a special presentation of SAMARPAN-2, the 3.5 hour long story of India’s struggle for freedom from 16th-20th century through dance, music and drama with artists from India.
Arts For Life
AFL President Mary McCreight has suspended all public activities of the Arts For Life organization effective March 16 until at least May 1, 2020. This includes all judging activities of the Theatre Recognition Guild (TRG). The Theatre Mask Awards Ceremony has been rescheduled for July 18. The Best Performance Awards are not yet affected by this suspension as they are scheduled to take place in mid-June.
“We will continue to base our decisions on the best information available in this rapid evolving situation, recognizing the need for timely notifications. All of this uncertainty poses challenges, and we will endeavor to communicate about our plans and share decisions promptly and transparently,” she said.
“It is apparent most shows scheduled before May 1 would likely not be allowed to be open anyway given the restrictions on event/gathering sizes put in place by local authorities this weekend. We ask that all participating groups keep us apprised as to their individual decisions regarding cancellations and/or postponements as soon as possible. We know that the various licensing houses (MTI, Concord and others) are are offering generous low- and no-penalty options for groups to either postpone and/or cancel productions. Please check with your respective licensors,” she said.
As previously reported, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis has postponed “Dreaming Zenzile” and hopes to reschedule this summer. “The Cake” in the Studio ran over the weekend, but beginning March 16, the production was suspended.
New Line Theatre closed “Head Over Heels” early because of the St. Louis City and County mandates about crowd size.
With the sort of clarity and theatrical density that only the two-hander can achieve, the season of exclusively two-character plays will journey through our most closely complex relationships: Mentor and Apprentice; Husband and wife; Mothers and Child.
Our 2019-20 season:
“Fifty Words” by Michael Weller
Directed by Associate Artistic Director John Pierson
September 20 – October 6, 2019
While their nine-year-old son is away for the night on his first sleepover, Adam and Jan have an evening alone together, their first in years. Adam’s attempt to seduce his wife before he leaves on business the next day begins a suspenseful nightlong roller-coaster ride of revelation, rancor, passion and humor that explores a modern-day marriage on the verge of either a breakup or deepening love and understanding.
“Mr. Weller is a bold and productive dramatist.” —NY Times.
“The best thing about Weller’s play is that it offers no easy answers for making a relationship work. Its shades of gray are less than comforting but realistic as husband and wife struggle to describe and resolve their complex feelings for each other.” —International Herald Tribune.
“A Life in the Theatre” by David Mamet
Directed by John Contini
December 6 – December 22, 2019
Starring Founder/Artistic Director William Roth and Spencer Sickmann (Farragut North, The Feast, LaBute Festival)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Speed-The-Plow” takes us into the lives of two actors: John, young and rising into the first flush of his success; and Robert, older, anxious, and beginning to wane. Their short, spare, and increasingly raw exchanges reveal the estrangement of youth from age and the wider, inevitable and endless cycle of life, in and out of the theatre.
“A comedy about the artifice of acting… It is also about the artifice of living… An evening of pure theatre.” – The New York Times
“A comic masterpiece.” – New York Daily News
“The warmest and often the funniest play in town.” – New York Post
“[Mamet has] the most acute ear for dialogue of any American writer since J.D. Salinger.” – Village Voiceb
“Annapurna” by Sharr White
Directed by Associate Artistic Director Annamaria Pileggi
February 14- March 1, 2020
After twenty years apart, Emma tracks Ulysses to a trailer park in the middle of nowhere for a final reckoning. What unfolds is a visceral and profound meditation on love and loss with the simplest of theatrical elements: two people in one room. A breathtaking story about the longevity of love.
“Sharr White’s ANNAPURNA is a comic and gripping duet…The closer [the characters] get to understanding what drove them apart, the more engrossed we become in watching them draw together.” —San Francisco Chronicle.
“What if you had experienced the defining moment of your life—but couldn’t remember it? Sharr White’s remarkable two-person play ANNAPURNA…deals with just that dilemma, as well as other imponderables such as the vagaries of love and the philosophical clarity of impending death.” —LA Times.
“…at the heart of each character is a lyricism that simply can’t be suffocated. Sharr White has created two fine and ferociously damaged people caught in the emotional whirlpool of not being able to live with or without each other.” —Huffington Post.
“White’s poetry is endearing and quite lovely, and his dialogue is sharp, funny and consistently very honest…”—BroadwayWorld.com.
“Comfort” by Neil LaBute
Directed by Associate Artistic Director Annamaria Pileggi
April 17-May 3, 2020
A new play by STLAS friend and associate Neil LaBute in which a successful author and her son meet after some time apart and revisit their troubled relationship. What’s at stake? Whether or not the instinctive bond between mother and child can survive not just the past, but also two new book deals.
“Mr. LaBute is writing some of the freshest and most illuminating American dialogue to be heard anywhere these days.” —NY Times.
“No contemporary writer has more astutely captured the brutality in everyday conversation and behavior: That kind of insight requires sensitivity and soul-searching.” —USA Today.
“It is tight, tense and emotionally true, and it portrays characters who actually seem part of the world that the rest of us live in.” —Time.
ABOUT ST. LOUIS ACTORS’ STUDIO St. Louis Actors’ Studio is one of the leading professional theatres in the St. Louis. area, producing a four-show season of plays at our 97-seat Gaslight Theatre. STLAS collaborates with renown director, screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute to produce the LaBute New Theater Festival each July in St. Louis and each January in New York City. The festival is a one-act play competition for emerging professionals and high-school writers.