R-S Theatrics is thrilled to announce their return to live theatre with the St. Louis premiere of Breadcrumbs by Jennifer Haley, running October 8-24, 2021, at The .ZACK (3224 Locust St.).
In Breadcrumbs, a reclusive fiction writer diagnosed with dementia must depend upon a troubled young caretaker to complete her autobiography.  In a symbiotic battle of wills, they delve into the dark woods of the past, unearthing a tragedy that shatters their notions of language, loneliness, and essential self.  Dallas Morning News calls Breadcrumbs “timely and touching,” while DC Theatre Scene says, “It is an act of boldness, to be done only by a playwright in absolute command of her gifts…”  

This production will be directed by R-S Artistic Director Sarah Lynne Holt.  The cast includes Jodi Stockton as Alida and Julie Amuedo as Beth/Mother.  The design team is Costume Designer Amanda Brasher, Lighting Designer Karen Pierce, Sound Designer Ted Drury, and Scenic & Properties Designer Sarah Lynne Holt.  The team is rounded out by Stage Manager Lucy Bowe, Dramaturg Rachel Hanks, Resident Intimacy Coordinator Tress Kurzym and Resident Graphic Designer & Photographer Michael Young.

Breadcrumbs will perform Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm and Sundays at 7:00pm.  General admission tickets will be $20, available through MetroTix or at the door.  Audio description for the blind and partially-sighted from MindsEye will be available during the Sunday, October 10th performance.  The October 15th performance will be followed by a presentation and discussion of the effects of trauma and dementia on brain development and behavior with Rachel Hanks, production dramaturg and licensed clinical social worker with a specialty in neurobiologically-informed interventions for traumatic stress and developmental trauma.

In accordance with Kranzberg Arts Foundation and R-S Theatrics guidelines, all audience members age twelve and up will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, a negative PCR test dated within 72 hours of the performance start time, or a negative antigen test dated within 24 hours of the performance start time.  Other than actors onstage, everyone over the age of two must remain properly masked in The .ZACK at all times.  This production is funded in part by the Arts and Education Council.  Breadcrumbs is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.

R-S Theatrics is a small professional theatre company in residence at Kranzberg Arts Foundation in St. Louis, Missouri.  Our mission is to present St. Louis-area professional premieres of work that introduces new voices to important conversations in our community.  Since launching in May of 2011, R-S has produced acclaimed productions of ParadeIn the HeightsEvery Brilliant Thing, and The Motherf**ker with the Hat, among many others.  

Jennifer Haley is a playwright whose work delves into ethics in virtual reality and the impact of technology on our human relationships, identity, and desire. She won the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, a Los Angeles Ovation Award and the Francesca Primus Prize for her play, The Nether, which premiered at Center Theatre Group and was subsequently produced at The Royal Court Theatre with Headlong in London. Other plays include Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, which premiered at the Actors Theatre of Louisville 2008 Humana Festival, and Froggy, in development with Center Theatre Group and American Conservatory Theater. Jennifer’s work has been developed at The Banff Centre, the Sundance Theatre Lab, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Lark Play Development Center, PlayPenn, Page 73, and the MacDowell Colony. She is a member of New Dramatists in New York City and lives in Los Angeles, where she founded the Playwrights Union. 

Director Sarah Lynne Holt (she/her) has been a theatre artist in St. Louis since 2001.  She holds a directing degree from Millikin University and has helmed shows at The Midnight Company, Solid Lines Productions, The Q Collective, Kirkwood Theatre Guild, That Uppity Theatre Company, PRIME, The Non-Prophet Theater Company, and The Tin Ceiling.  At R-S Theatrics, she has directed boomA Perfect Arrangement, and numerous other projects, including four years of shows in partnership with The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’s WiseWrite Young Playwrights’ Festival.  She began working with R-S in 2014, served on the Board of Directors from 2015-2018, and has been Artistic Director since January 2020.  Sarah previously held staff positions with Arcon Radio Players, The Non-Prophet Theatre Company, Last Chance Theatre, and Blue Lemon Theatre Group.Complimentary review tickets are available to media by request.  To reserve tickets, request a full press packet, or get more information, contact Sarah Lynne Holt at [email protected] or visit R-S’s website at r-stheatrics.org.

By Lynn Venhaus

Set in Dublin, “Bloomsday” is a little charmer that whisks you away to the Emerald Isle in a time travel love story. (Yes, you read that right).

Written by Steven Dietz in 2017, the playwright has an ear for the rhythms of youthful adventurers and the wistful reminiscences of older adults.

“Bloomsday” highlights James Joyce’s use of the Irish capital city’s landmarks during an ordinary June 16 in 1904, the setting for his masterwork novel, “Ulysses,” which was published in 1920.

There is such devotion to the novel that every June 16, fans dress up as characters and celebrate Bloomsday in Dublin, some making a pilgrimage.

With his literary use of modernism, the Irish novelist, short story writer, poet, teacher, and critic is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.

The West End Players Guild opened its 110th season with Dietz’s witty drama, which had been postponed from last year during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. His play, “This Random World,” was previously performed in the Union Avenue Christian Church basement.

With minimal staging representing several locales, West End is well-suited to produce such an intimate play. The pleasing set design features a view of Dublin’s shops and pubs lining cobblestone streets, with excellent artwork by Marjorie Williamson and Morgan Maul-Smith.

Four endearing performers star as a young couple, Robbie and Caithleen, in scenes from 35 years ago, and as the older Robert and Cait one day last June.

Megan Wiegart and Jeff Lovell. Photo by John Lamb.

Jeff Lovell, topped with a straw boater hat familiar to Joyce fans, plays the 55-year-old American college professor Robert, whose life changed during one magical day. He was 20 years old and taking a walking tour highlighting James Joyce’s Dublin.

That’s when he met tour guide Caithleen, 20, played with verve by Megan Wiegert. She won Robbie’s heart that day — but he did not take her back to America with him. Why not? The dreamer in her was certainly willing.

Wondering what might have been with “the one who got away” is the focus in this no-frills yet delightful production. The takeaway is to make the most of the present before it is past because we can’t get back lost time.

The cast conveys the urgency to pursue that road less taken so that looking back isn’t such a heartache. Dietz injects humor into the discoveries as the quartet moves back and forth through time, reliving the impetuousness of youth as the older adults look back with regrets and “what ifs.”

Could it still happen after all these years? The older Robert, with the benefit of hindsight, has returned to Dublin for a reunion with Caithleen, who now calls herself “Cait.” However, he finds the spunky young Caithleen instead, having somehow traveled back in time to that only day they spent together. She remains full of wanderlust, and he remembers her attractive qualities.

The young – and directionless — Robbie is played earnestly by an energetic John T. Moore, and the older Robert realizes he should have been more decisive.

Colleen Heneghan is a sweet-natured Cait, playing the spry but aged woman with a twinkle in her eye and a song still in her heart. The yearning to experience all that life offers is still there, although she basically settled for complacency. In her conversations with her younger self, she is surprisingly candid and explains her choices.

Both women have worked to perfect convincing Irish dialects, and those lovely lilts are uplifting.

Costume Designer Tracey Newcomb has outfitted the foursome in suitable attire for travels, age and time periods while Jackie Aumer accented the scenes with appropriate props.

The four are an engaging ensemble – all making their WEPG debut — and the creative team has made this a memorable romantic comedy. Director Jessa Knust, also making her debut, has ensured that the unusual format is understandable. She was assisted by Karen Pierce.

Celtic folk tunes are used effectively to set a merry mood, and Ted Drury’s sound design is noteworthy, with Mason Hagarty crisply operating the sound board. Jacob Winslow has done a nice job with the lighting design.

I felt like I was on an interesting journey, which is a good thing after being mostly housebound during quarantines and the 18-month public health crisis.

After all, no one is alone in wondering what might have been. Having some interesting points to ponder was entertaining live theater.

John T. Moore, Colleen Heneghan, Jeff Lovell, Megan Wiegart in “Bloomsday.” Photo by John Lamb.

The show has seven performances from Sept. 17 through Sept. 26, with Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting at 8 p.m. on the second weekend and a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union in the Central West End. For tickets and more information, visit www.westendplayers.org

This season, the theater company is employing touchless ticketing, socially distanced seating and indoor masking of all patrons and front-of-house staff and volunteers. They are operating under special policies and procedures to minimize the risk of Covid-19 transmission and infection.  For full details on our public health policies, please visit www.WestEndPlayers.org/covid-19-policies/.