Campy, quirky, sexy and deeply emotional comedy runs through Feb. 28
In an effort to provide access to the best virtual programming in the nation, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is proud to present the hilarious Hi, Are You Single?, available virtually through Feb. 28. Patrons who appreciate the cutting-edge works and the intimacy of The Rep’s Studio Series will fall in love with this autobiographical one-person show, called “compelling and fresh” by the New York Times.
Ryan is searching for love. Or a date. Or at least a hookup. From encounters with drag queens to platonic lap dances, writer/performer Ryan J. Haddad guides the audience through the gay dating scene while living with cerebral palsy, sharing his provocative take on intimacy, rejection and judgment. “Ryan J. Haddad is one of the most compelling, authentic, funny, unapologetically open voices of the 21st century,” said Hana S. Sharif, Augustin Family Artistic Director at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. “I am excited to share his work with our community.” Hi, Are You Single? is produced by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in association with IAMA Theatre Company. Directed by Laura Savia and Jess McLeod and originally developed by Laura Savia, Hi, Are You Single? was recorded in an intimate theatre setting with a live audience. “I have wanted to introduce Ryan Haddad ever since I got to Woolly,” said Woolly Mammoth Theatre Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes. “He is a captivating storyteller who charms anyone he meets within seconds. Hi, Are You Single? asks us to examine sexuality through the lens of a queer man with a disability who is struggling to make meaning out of intimate interactions.” Ryan J. Haddad is an actor, playwright and autobiographical performer based in New York. His acclaimed solo play Hi, Are You Single? was first presented in The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and continues to tour the country. Other New York credits include My Straighties (Ars Nova/ANT Fest), Noor and Hadi Go to Hogwarts (Theater Breaking Through Barriers) and the cabaret Falling for Make Believe (Joe’s Pub/Under the Radar). He has a recurring role on the Netflix series “The Politician” and has been featured on television in “Bull,” “Madam Secretary” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Haddad is a recipient of IAMA Theatre Company’s Shonda Rhimes Unsung Voices Playwriting Commission and Rising Phoenix Repertory’s Cornelia Street American Playwriting Award. Purchase an access code to view the online comedy Hi, Are You Single? via The Rep box office by calling 314-968-4925 or online at repstl.org. For $20, buyers will receive an email with a link usable any time through Feb. 28. Hi, Are You Single? contains depictions and descriptions of sexual content, explicit language and discussion of ableism, racism, ageism and the stigmatization of HIV status. For more information, visit the Hi, Are You Single? page on repstl.org or call The Rep box office at 314-068-4025. — ABOUT THE REPERTORY THEATRE ST. LOUISThe 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. Visit www.repstl.org for more, and find The Rep on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. ### …
Article originally appeared in Arts For Life’s Feb. 18 newsletter. Article written by Kim Klick and Lynn Venhaus
After working as a professional actor and singer for more than 30 years in Las Vegas, including performing opera at the Venetian Hotel on the Strip, Kimmie decided to move back to her hometown.
To leave her comfort zone and start over at 45 years old was daunting.
“More than a few people thought I must have been crazy!” she said.
But she knew it was time for a change and she did have support.
She was hired to work at Nordstrom Department Stores and found an apartment in Valley Park.
“I thought I’d be satisfied with all of that, but I wasn’t. Frankly, I was quite miserable. I was lonely, broke and terribly homesick! Most of all, I missed performing.”
However, things slowly fell into place. She not only found her way into the St. Louis theatre scene but reconnected with childhood friends, settled down here and married Gregg Booker. They grew up in the same neighborhood, and found each other on Facebook.
She started researching St. Louis theater companies, sending out letters and headshots, hoping to be acknowledged, but no response.
One day in 2012, she came across an audition for an upcoming production of August Wilson’s “Fences” at Hawthorne Players.
“I hadn’t even heard of August Wilson! Can you believe that? Someone like me, who has done theatre her entire life, had not heard of August Wilson?”
She showed up, prepared but “terrified.”
“A little-known fact about me is that I had never done a ‘straight play’ before! I had always done musical theatre. So, to put myself in a position where I had to just ACT, well, it was unchartered territory for me, to say the least!”
She was offered the part of Rose, the long-suffering wife who is married to the lead character, Troy.
“It’s one of the most important, historical, emotional, heartfelt roles to exist in American Theatre. I thought, ‘What the hell did I get myself into?’” she said. She did not need to fret.
“This was one of the best and most fulfilling theater experiences of my career,” she said.
For the record, August Wilson was not only an African American playwright, but also was an amazingly talented award-winning playwright who died too soon at the age of 60, Kidd-Booker explained.
“Fences” is part of Wilson’s celebrated “Pittsburgh Cycle,” sometimes called “The Century Cycle,” in which he wrote 10 plays, each set in a certain decade of the 20th century.
Set in the 1957, it is the sixth play of the cycle, premiered in 1985, and like the others, explores the evolving African American experience and among other themes, examines race relations.
Troy is a Negro Baseball League player who now works as a garbageman – but can’t be a driver (yet). His bitterness is apparent and affects his family – wife Rose and sons Lyons and Cory, and disabled brother Gabriel.
“Fences” won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. “I am honored and privileged to say I performed in an August Wilson play! Being in an August Wilson play was both thrilling and terrifying. The context is historic and genuine and dramatic. His words are thoughtful and compelling and emotional,” she said.
While “Fences” is her only August Wilson play to date, she said she is optimistic that moving forward, there will be more opportunities to educate, perform, explore and share the African American experience with everyone.
“Black History Month is just a drop in the bucket. But it is certainly a start. My hope moving forward is that we can continue to gain an understanding of each other and continue a dialogue and put fears to rest. We have many differences, but we must continue to be reminded that we are more alike than we’d like to think,” Kimmie said.
Before she debuted in “Fences,” after a year here, she was considering returning to Las Vegas.
But once she started rehearsals with the cast and crew, then bonding with everyone, she decided to stay.
“My love for theatre kept me here in St. Louis. As I began to meet other theatre people and make more and more theatre connections, I knew that this is where I belonged. These are my People!” she said.
Kimmie recently became part of the AFL Board of Directors. She has won two Best Performance Awards for Best Featured Actress as Glinda in “The Wiz” at Hawthorne Players in 2014 and as Estonia Dulworth in “Nice Work If You Can Get It” at the Kirkwood Theatre Guild in 2019.
She was nominated as Best Actress in a Featured Role as Sister Mary Hubert in “Nunsense” at Hawthorne Players in 2015 and as The Witch in “Into the Woods” at Curtain’s Up Theater in 2018.
Among her roles in regional professional theater, she played Tom Robinson’s wife in “To Kill a Mockingbird” at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, as Lady Bird in Stray Dog Theatre’s “Spellbound: A Musical Fable”and in the ensemble of “Sweeney Todd,” as “Aunt Missy” in The Black Rep’s “Purlie” and as Evangeline Harcourt in “Anything Goes” at New Line Theatre. In January 2020, she starred as brothel owner and philanthropist Eliza Haycraft in the original musical, “Madam.”
About August Wilson
Wilson was born Frederick August Kittel in Pittsburgh, Penn., on April 27, 1945. His mother, Daisy Wilson, was of African American heritage. His father, Frederick Kittel, was a German immigrant.
As a child, Kittel attended St. Richard’s Parochial School. When his parents divorced, he, his mother and his siblings moved from the poor Bedford Avenue area of Pittsburgh to the mostly white neighborhood of Oakland. After facing the relentless bigotry of his classmates at Central Catholic High School, he transferred to Connelly Vocational High School, and later to Gladstone High School.
When he was 15 years old, Wilson pursued an independent education at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, where he would earn his high school diploma.
Following his father’s death in 1965, a 20-year-old Wilson adopted the pen name “August Wilson” — reportedly an homage to his mother — and declared himself a poet. In 1968, Wilson and a friend, Rob Penny, co-founded the Black Horizon Theater.
Wilson remained primarily focused on making it as a poet — largely to no avail — until moving to St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1978.
Wilson wrote his first notable play in 1979,” Jitney,” for which he earned a fellowship at the Minneapolis Playwright Center.
The following year, his new play, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” was accepted at the Eugene O’Neill Playwright’s Conference. The year 1982 was particularly fruitful for Wilson, as it marked his introduction to Lloyd Richards, who went on to direct Wilson’s first six Broadway plays.
“Joe Turner,” the second part of the cycle, opened on Broadway in 1988.He took home another Pulitzer Prize in 1990, this time for The Piano Lesson, following its Broadway premiere.
Wilson died of liver cancer on Oct. 2, 2005, in Seattle. His new play, “Radio Golf,” had opened in Los Angeles just a few months earlier.
Virtual theatrical experiences to continue; Mlima’s Tale still scheduled for May
To ensure the health and safety of Rep patrons, artists and staff, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis will postpone the March production of Little Shop of Horrors due to recent coronavirus surges in the region.
“We are committed to keeping our Rep patrons, artists and staff safe so we can continue to bring the magic of theatre to St. Louis for many years to come,” said Hana S. Sharif, Augustin Family Artistic Director at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. “We are disappointed that health conditions require us to postpone our reunion, but we are fueled by the enormous generosity, patience and support of our patrons and filled with optimism, energy and excitement about the future.”
In consultation with health experts, Rep leadership remains optimistic that the combination of vaccines, safety protocols and socially distanced seating at the new Catherine B. Berges Theatre will allow the organization to produce an extraordinary in-person theatrical experience as scheduled in May with Mlima’s Tale. Written by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, Mlima’s Tale is a moving, lyrical journey through the dark world of the international ivory trade.
Until then, The Rep continues to stretch the bounds of how patrons can experience theatre through unique and inspiring virtual events. “Cooking, Carols and Cocktails,” a four-part virtual series that highlights some of St. Louis’ best food, music and personalities, is available on demand through Jan. 31. Additionally, “The Glowy Snowy Day,” based on the book “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats, reimagines the award-winning children’s book using gigantic illuminated puppets. This free, drive-through event for families runs Jan. 1-3, 2021.
Each subscriber who purchased Flex Pass tickets will be called by a member of The Rep’s box office to answer questions and walk patrons through their options. Flex Passes may be used for additional Mlima’s Tale tickets, any of The Rep’s upcoming virtual programs or saved for The Rep’s 2021-22 season.
The Rep box office team will begin calling patrons immediately, to inform them of the schedule update and thank them for their patience and their passion for live theatre.
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. Visit www.repstl.org for more, and find The Rep on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Mark your calendars for a magical puppet experience this week!
Together with StoneLion Puppet Theatre, we’ve created a brand-new adventure through the celebrated children’s classic, The Snowy Day. Join us to hear an enchanting adaptation of Ezra Jack Keats’ award-winning book, and watch the tale come to life in a spectacle of colossal illuminated puppets, glow artists and more – all without leaving the socially distanced safety of your vehicle.
Because of potential inclement weather, this FREE outdoor performance will now take place January 1-3 on the Webster University campus between Big Bend Boulevard and Lockwood Avenue (just across the street from The Rep).
Visit our website to learn more about The Glowy Snowy Day and to see a preview of StoneLion Puppet Theatre’s stunning work. Registration for the event is not required.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis celebrates the season with “Cooking, Carols and Cocktails,” a four-episode web series showcasing food, music and community. Join beloved local personalities, tour some of St. Louis’ favorite restaurants, take a cooking class, toss in a coordinating cocktail and experience the best music The Lou has to offer – all from the comfort of your home.
“The opportunity to learn from the most talented culinary artists in St. Louis while enjoying an in-home concert by brilliant musical powerhouses is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season,” said The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director Hana S. Sharif. “We are thrilled to have created these bold, vibrant, virtual experiences that are quintessentially St. Louis.”
The four-episode web series features cooking lessons from the chefs of Turn at the .Zack in Midtown, kicking off the series with a brunch of panettone French toast, sausage and biscuits; Barcelona Tapas in Clayton, who will craft the perfect paella; Cathy’s Kitchen in Ferguson, spicing things up with seafood jambalaya and sweet and spicy chicken and Perfectly Pastry in Dutchtown, baking a St. Louis favorite: gooey butter cake. And Heather Sharpe joins each episode as veteran mixologist, with beverage sponsor Big O Ginger Liqueur.
Interspersed with the gastronomy lessons, an amazing lineup of musical performances will be featured in each episode, including Fresh Heir’s high-energy soul, funk and hip-hop blend; dynamic jazz from award-winning vocalist Joe Mancuso; rising soulful pop star Paige Alyssa and world-renowned, multicultural, genre-busting vocalist Tonina, whowas named one of NPR’s favorite new artists of 2018. Songs will include traditional holiday favorites as well as some of the musicians’ top originals.
These culinary and musical tours, with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be guided by Pascal, host of “The Pascal Show;” Karl Schmitz, founder of HOMS clothing brand; musical artist Tonina and Emmy-winning TV and radio personalityJulie Tristan. St. Louis-based production company Once Films takes the lead behind the camera.
Tickets are $15 per episode or $50 for the four-show series. Purchase online now at repstl.org or call The Rep Box Office at 314-968-4925. Rep subscribers may utilize their Flex Passes for the series. For more information, visit repstl.org.
ABOUT THE REPERTORY THEATRE OF 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
Dael Orlandersmith’s award-winning piece examining Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of Michael Brown’s death airs nationwide
ST. LOUIS – After the
death of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis commissioned acclaimed writer and performance artist Dael Orlandersmith to create a piece focused on the aftermath and a nation’s struggle for justice and freedom.
Until the Flood’s
2016 world premiere at The Rep received critical acclaim, was named Outstanding New Play by the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards and has been produced around the country and in Ireland, Scotland and England.
The Rep, in collaboration with ALL ARTS and other theatres across the nation, will premier
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater’s
2018 production online on Sunday, November 15 at 7 p.m. CST on
the free ALL ARTS app and allarts.org,
a broadcast and digital platform dedicated to the arts. This production features the same playwright/actor, director and design team that originated the piece at The Rep in 2016.
“The Rep is proud to support artists who examine our past, point us towards our future and bring us to a new understanding through art,” said
The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director Hana S. Sharif. “Dael’s
work helps us examine a moment that forever changed our region.”
Based on extensive interviews following the August 2014 shooting of Black teen Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson, this tour-de-force
one-woman show, directed for the stage and television by Neel Keller, gives voice to a community haunted by injustice and a country yearning for change. Brown’s death ignited weeks of social unrest, propelled the activist movement known as Black Lives Matter
and prompted an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Orlandersmith traveled to the St. Louis region a few months after the shooting to conduct interviews with dozens of people. From these intimate
conversations, she created eight unforgettable characters who embody a community struggling to come to terms with the personal damage caused by these complex events. Experienced in performance, these voices offer haunting reminders of America’s continuing
struggle with racism and justice.
Awarded a “Critic’s Pick” by the New York Times and acclaimed by critics and audiences across the country,
Until the Flood is
an unmissable drama that the Chicago Tribune raved, “achieves a great beauty by bringing us together rather than driving us apart.”
Joining Rattlestick in sponsoring the broadcast premiere are The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, which originally commissioned the piece, A Contemporary
Theatre in Seattle, Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Milwaukee Repertory Theater and Portland Center Stage.
Following the November 15, 2020, broadcast premiere,
Until the Flood will
be available for on-demand viewing on ALL ARTS until
the Fall of 2023.
For more information, visit repstl.org or call The Rep Box Office at 314-968-4925.
an effort to support voter education and participation on November 3, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is developing videos to inform and empower voters.
In partnership with the
Voter Protection Coalition (MOVPC), a non-partisan statewide network of voter advocates, The Rep commissioned
professional artmakers to create short, entertaining videos designed to educate voters.
“As one of the largest performing arts nonprofits in the state of Missouri, The Rep is more than a venue for great plays – we also exist as a town hall in service of the St. Louis region and beyond,” said Hana S. Sharif, Augustin Family Artistic Director at The Rep. “We are grateful to MOVPC for their advocacy for voters’ rights and are proud to join them in that work.”
Absentee Voting Video, written by artist, community organizer and award-winning theatre maker
all voting options available to Missourians who are unable to vote in person or feel unsafe with in-person voting due to the pandemic.
“I feel very grateful to have been invited to use storytelling to help catalyze
civic processes,” said Dias.
“It’s exciting to contribute to helping people understand how to exercise their rights.”
National Voter Protection Video will
be available soon. It examines the Election
Protection Hotline, which connects voters with trained lawyers who can answer questions on overcoming obstacles to voting and combating
voter intimidation. This video was written by award-winning playwright, film/television writer and educator
del Rosso. (del Rosso’s play
The Gradient was
slated for production in The Rep’s 2020-21 season which was shortened by the pandemic.)
“So often, #Vote campaigns ignore the reality of voter disenfranchisement,”
said del Rosso, “blithely
demanding participation without recognizing how fraught the process is for many communities. I’m so excited that The Rep is partnering with the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, since fighting voter suppression and connecting voters to tangible resources
is a powerful and shame-free organizing strategy.”
“Our goal is to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast a ballot,”
said Denise Lieberman, director and general counsel of the
Missouri Voter Protection Coalition,
which coordinates nonpartisan 866-OUR-VOTE Election Protection efforts in the state. “We are grateful to The Rep for commissioning these videos so that voters are armed with the information they need to vote. We must continue to work to ensure every voter
is able to access their right to vote freely and without fear.”
The Rep believes institutions of creative expression can be uplifting spaces
that encourage and engage the community. To further model this renewed commitment to civic engagement, The Rep is making November 3 a paid holiday for its staff, to encourage voting and volunteerism on election day. The Rep has also created a
Resources Webpage of Missouri and Illinois voter information.
Additionally, The Rep is hosting a panel discussion to empower individuals to
exercise their fundamental right to vote titled “Breaking
Down the Ballot”.
roundtable discussion, moderated by Hana S. Sharif and featuring a bipartisan group of thought leaders, political experts and voting rights advocates, will allow community members to ask questions about critical ballot measures affecting our region. The virtual
roundtable is free and open to the public. Visit The Rep’s Facebook page
or YouTube channel
on October 26 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
to participate. No pre-registration is required.
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
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 Meby 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.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis has announced that it will postpone the beginning of its 2020-2021 season until at least December 2020 in order to ensure the safety of its patrons, guest artists, staff and volunteers.
Following months of consultation between the theatre’s leadership, board members and fellow St. Louis cultural institutions, The Rep will push back its usual September start time and reconfigure its schedule for the upcoming season. The theatre’s plan is to reopen in December with A Christmas Carol and then run an extended winter/spring season in 2021.
The Rep will formally announce its rescheduled season on September 1.
“While we are going to greatly miss connecting with our patrons in September, we understand that The Rep exists within a much larger public health picture for the St. Louis region,” said Hana S. Sharif, The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director. “We want to ensure that when we reopen, it’s in a way that maximizes the health and safety of our community. We look forward to throwing open our doors this December to launch the joyous holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol for St. Louis families.”
As part of its planning, The Rep has banded together with its fellow cultural organizations as part of the St. Louis Reopening The Arts Work Group. This collective is forming a unified plan that takes under consideration the CDC’s recommendations as well as any federal, state and local government directives.
“Our group is exploring the implementation of disinfecting, social distancing, face coverings, temperature screenings and more throughout all St. Louis arts venues,” Sharif said. “Our goal is to create a safe environment for everyone to enjoy live art, music and theatre as soon as possible.”
The Rep, as a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), is also collaborating closely with the five labor unions whose members help to bring its plays to the stage, ensuring that the theatre will continue to provide a safe and healthy workplace.
Until it returns to staged productions, The Rep will continue its educational and outreach work throughout the St. Louis community, including free efforts like Play at Home and the WiseWrite Digital Play Festival. Stay tuned to repstl.org for continued updates, as well as exciting virtual arts activities.
15 arts organizations will join forces with OTSL and RAC to present a streamed concert in support of artists whose livelihoods have been directly impacted by COVID-19.
Together with 14 other arts organizations and the Regional Arts Commission (RAC), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) is proud to announce “Arts United STL,” a free virtual benefit in support of RAC’s Artist Relief Fund, which provides critical aid to St. Louis working artists whose livelihoods have been critically interrupted by the pandemic. Produced by OTSL in partnership with the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, this benefit will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 31st and present performances from local arts organizations, including The Big Muddy Dance Company, The Black Rep, Circus Flora, COCA, Jazz St. Louis, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Ballet, St. Louis Children’s Choirs, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Sheldon, STAGES St. Louis, the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, and more.
Arts United STL was first envisioned by OTSL General Director Andrew Jorgensen as a way for St. Louis’ established arts institutions to help support the community’s vibrant arts ecosystem. After an initial consultation between OTSL, RAC, and the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, a consortium of 15 organizations was invited across an array of arts mediums. In the coming days, RAC will also encourage open submissions from independent artists and other arts organizations to further highlight the artistic diversity of the city.
More information about Arts United STL can be found on Opera Theatre’s website at ExperienceOpera.org/ArtsUnited, which will also host the live video stream on Sunday, May 31st. In addition, viewers may watch the livestream via YouTube on Opera Theatre’s channel. Viewers will be encouraged to donate to the RAC Artist Relief Fund during the concert. To date, the Artist Relief Fund has distributed $136,500 in direct support to individual artists. The goal of Arts United STL is to raise an additional $250,000 through 1,000 individual donations and sponsorships. Supporters may donate to the Artist Relief Fund at ExperienceOpera.org/ArtsUnited at any time before, during, or after the live event.
The arts and culture sector is an important driver for the St. Louis economy. According to the 2015 Americans for the Arts Economic Prosperity 5 study commissioned by RAC, the nonprofit arts and culture sector generated $590.9 million and 19,129 full-time equivalent jobs for the greater St. Louis area during that same year. Since the start of the pandemic, based on research conducted by Americans for the Arts, 89% of St. Louis City and County arts institutions have canceled events that would have reached more than 285,000 individuals.
“This benefit represents an exciting and collaborative effort to respond to the global crisis affecting the arts and culture sector in our region,” said Mont Levy, chair of the board of commissioners at RAC. “As the major public funder of arts in the region with a mandate to support individual artists, we know it is RAC’s responsibility to provide emergency support during this time of great need. We could not be more grateful to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for spearheading this event, or to the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival and every participating organization for their work to highlight the rich cultural tapestry of our region and support their fellow artists.”
The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis is the largest annual funder of non-profit arts in the region, providing grants to individual artists, arts and culture organizations, and other programs since 1985. RAC established the Artist Relief Fund through the St. Louis Community Foundation on April 1st to help working artists who have lost income due to the pandemic. So far, the fund has distributed $500 and $1,000 grants to more than 130 artists and will resume accepting new relief applications once additional funds have been secured.
OTSL General Director Andrew Jorgensen says of the effort, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with so many other arts organizations to help local artists, whose work makes St. Louis an immeasurably vibrant, special place. OTSL couldn’t be happier to produce this concert in support of artists during these difficult times. This benefit will highlight a fantastic array of art from different genres that reflect the artistic diversity and traditions of this community. I am so grateful to all my many colleagues who are uniting in this remarkable way to support one another and our entire arts ecosystem.”
All participating organizations are donating their time, with production costs and staffing needs covered by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, additional staffing needs covered by St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, and an in-kind donation from Switch. The program will be directed by St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Tom Ridgely. Arts United STL is produced in partnership with the Regional Arts Commission, and the following arts partners: The Big Muddy Dance Company, The Black Rep, Circus Flora, COCA, Jazz St. Louis, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Ballet, St. Louis Children’s Choirs, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Sheldon, STAGES St. Louis, and the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis.
Here is the HEC featurette piece: https://youtu.be/Upzz841hHX4
About Regional Arts Commission
The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RAC) supports artists and arts organizations through grantmaking, strategic initiatives and other programs that build capacity, improve quality and advance diversity, equity and inclusion within the region’s arts and culture sector. Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2020, RAC has been pivotal in nurturing the vibrant art scene throughout St. Louis, awarding more than 7,000 grants totaling over $100 million since its inception in 1985. Directed by a board of 15 commissioners appointed by the chief executives of St. Louis City and St. Louis County, RAC prioritizes quality in its support of nonprofit arts organizations, individual artists, and programs and promotes partnerships that strengthen the sector and drive progress throughout the region. RAC receives its funding from hotel/motel room sales tax revenue from St. Louis City and County. Visit www.racstl.org for more information, or follow us on Facebook at Regional Arts Commission or Twitter @RACStLouis.