The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) is excited to bring an extraordinary production with a cast and crew from around the globe to St. Louis in the organization’s return to live theatre with ‘Mlima’s Tale,’ a moving, lyrical journey through the dark world of the international ivory trade from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage. 

Performances of ‘Mlima’s Tale’ begin at COCA’s Berges Theatre onMay 28. The show runsMay 28 to July 11, times can be found here. Tickets begin at $20.50. 

‘Mlima’s Tale’ tells the story of a majestic and powerful African elephant murdered for his tusks. From beyond the veil of death, Mlima’s spirit follows the path of his tusks on a captivating and haunting journey through the dark world of the international ivory trade.

“As artists we are often tasked with examining our shared human experiences to help others imagine, dream and heal during a time of global crisis,” said Director Shariffa Ali. “Directing ‘Mlima’s Tale’ allowed me to dig deep into my own personal history, where as a child I would listen to the stories of my grandmother and the village elders of Nandi Hills, Kenya, planting the seed of storytelling in my soul. This cast and crew – from all over the world – has created a production that brings to life the bold majestic gestures and expressive faces of my motherland and beyond, as it so aptly exposes the social issues that come with the greed of human desire in our global economy.”

Mlima’s Tale cast includes Kambi Gathesha as Mlima, with Ezioma Asonye, Will Mann and Joe Ngo as the ensemble. The production will be directed by Shariffa Ali, Kirven Douthit-Boyd will serve as the choreographer, You-Shin Chen (scene design), Helen Huang (costume design), Jasmine Lesane (lighting design), Avi Amon (composer and sound design), Shannon B. Sturgis (stage management), R. Christopher Maxwell (assistant stage manager) and Madison Booth as the costume assistant; with Barbara Rubin and Julie Foh serving as dialect coaches.

“We are thrilled to bring Lynn Nottage’s haunting and riveting tale of globalism to our St. Louis audience,” said Hana S. Sharif, Augustin Family Artistic Director at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. “Mlima’s Tale is an exquisite story about culture, art, beauty, economics, greed and the incredible cost of conspicuous consumption. Through Mlima’s majestic spirit’s journey tracing its tusks around the world, we come to discover the collective power and impact of our choices.

For audience and performer safety, theatre capacity will be kept at 25 percent, in line with  St. Louis County Department of Health’s COVID-19 guidelines. In addition, The Rep is adhering to its comprehensive plan to keep actors, production staff and patrons safe during the return to live theatre. ‘Mlima’s Tale’ is The Rep’s only performance from the 2020-2021 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tickets will be available to the general public on May 20 at repstl.org. Subscribers will have earlier access to seating and tickets. For more information, visit repstl.org.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a multitude of obstacles to overcome for organizations of all types, and theater groups are no exception. Sharon Hunter, Artistic Director-Producer of Moonstone Theatre Company, aims to help address some of the virus-related challenges that the St. Louis theatre community faces by forming the St. Louis Theatre Community Task Force.

“As I was thinking about how to proceed with my own company in the wake of the pandemic, I started thinking it would be helpful  to get a lot of the theaters to sit down via Zoom and discuss concerns, ideas and solutions for moving forward as we navigate the future of theatre in St. Louis,” Hunter explains.

Sharon Hunter

The Task Force will address concerns including conducting safe auditions, rehearsals and performances, finding new ways to seat audiences, maintaining the visibility of the St. Louis theatre community, new ways to offer theatre experiences and recommendations for the use of personal protective equipment.

Hunter said the Task Force, which is the first of its kind in the St. Louis area, welcomes local theatre groups of all sizes. In addition to these organizations, representatives from the St. Louis County Department of Health and the Center For Disease Control have also been invited to the first online meeting to address questions and concerns.

Theatre companies invited to participate include R-S Theatrics, The Q Collective, The Midnight Company, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble, Upstream Theater, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, COCA, Shakespeare Festival STL, Black Rep, Stray Dog Theatre, Stages St. Louis, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, New Jewish Theatre, Cherokee Street Theatre, The Cabaret Project of St. Louis, Max & Louie Productions, Black Mirror Theatre, Young Liars, West End Players Guild, Tennessee Williams Festival St Louis, New Line Theatre, ERA Theatre Company, STL Fringe Festival, St Louis Shakespeare, Metro Theatre Company, That Uppity Theatre Company and the Tesseract Theatre Company.

The initial meeting of the Task Force is scheduled for Thursday, April 23, at 7 p.m. Theatre groups interested in interested in participating should contact Hunter at [email protected] to get access to the Zoom link. For more info, check their Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/STLTheatre/.