Back by popular demand with all new material, March 1-3 2013, That Uppity Theatre Company, in partnership with The Vital VOICE, produced an evening of short LGBT plays, collectively called BRIEFS. In 2012, BRIEFS sold out all four performances, with a diverse audience from the LGBT community and straight allies. Located at La Perla, a historic downtown bank renovated for events of all kinds with a 150-person capacity, a DJ will also be spinning music between plays, and a cash bar as well as valet parking will be available.
More than a traditional theatrical production, BRIEFS is a community event, bringing together a diverse audience from the LGBT community, straight allies, local businesses, and local artists. Our slogan this year is, “Come for the play, stay for the party!” The space will stay open for at least at hour after every performance so people can visit, have a drink and dance and every show will also be followed by a short question and answer session.
Additionally, we will have two special community events. On Wednesday, February 27, we will offer a low-cost preview and pizza party for area youth and on Sunday, March 3, our final performance matinee will also honor LGBT seniors and their friends and will include a complimentary brunch for LGBT seniors from groups including SAGE, Primetimers and Older Lesbians Advocating for Change (OLAC).
According to executive co-producer Joan Lipkin (Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company), the short play format in BRIEFSprovides productive opportunities for the multiple perspectives of several directors and playwrights and for the pieces to speak in relation to each other. "I also think in this economy it is essential that ticket prices be as affordable as possible in order to attract and welcome a diverse audience so we will have one of the lowest tickets prices in town.”
"Vital VOICE always strives to create and deliver new and exciting projects for the LGBT community and our straight allies. Briefs is a celebration of our community that will leave audiences entertained informed and uplifted,” says Darin Slyman CEO and Publisher of Vital VOICE Media.
The plays of BRIEFS were selected from playwrights nationwide for the second-annual production, including:
- “Black Eye” by Carolyn Gage, directed by Christopher Limber
- “Are You Married?” written and directed by Joan Lipkin
- “My Jesus Year,” by Tony Foster, directed by Lee Anne Mathews
- “Waiting for the Skell,” by EM Lewis, directed by Bonnie Taylor
- “Lady & the Tramp,” performed by Lola van Ella & Sammy Tramp
- “Surprise,” by Ken Haller, directed by Michael B. Perkins
- “Zoo Story 2.0,” by Rich Espey, directed by Marty Stanberry.
“I am delighted to be directing. ‘Briefs,’ a tremendous addition to St. Louis theatre, provides a gritty, witty and articulate sampling of LGBT and allied playwrights. This year's festival of 10-minute vignettes, like last year’s, presents a deeply personal and yet universal patchwork of plays. This showcase will resonate and delight any theatre goer looking for insightful and powerful new work for the theatre,” says Christopher Limber, who will be directing “Black Eye.”
According to Associate Producer Michael B. Perkins who is also directing, "BRIEFS will inspire conversations during the event and long afterward, bringing a diverse audience together that wouldn't otherwise interact. We learn so much not only by doing, but by watching our peers."
"BRIEFS is distinctive because the festival was the first of its kind in St. Louis last year and it brings together gay and non-gay communities modeled by a diverse group of directors and material written by both gay and lesbian and allied playwrights," said director Bonnie Taylor.
, like the plays themselves, incorporate a diverse spectrum of gender, age, and orientation. Some are seasoned professional actors, others are rising talents but all are from our local St. Louis community. Among the 20+ performers in Briefs
are: Robert Davis, Wendy Greenwood, Ken Haller, Daniel John Kelly, Jenn Bock, Hannah Ryan, Joshua Thomas, Theresa Masters, Nicole Angeli, Justin Ivan Brown, Troy P. Turnipseed, Maggie Conroy, Lola van Ella, Sammy Tramp, Laura Singleton, Charlie Barron, Bob Thibaut, and more.
Joan Lipkin | Leon Braxton | Michael B. Perkins
Christopher Limber | Lee Anne Mathews | Marty Stanberry | Bonnie Taylor | Lola van Ella
Rich Espey | Tony Foster | Carolyn Gage | Ken Haller | EM Lewis
Nicole Angeli | Charlie Barron | Jenn Bock | Justin Ivan Brown | Maggie Conroy | Robert Lee Davis, III | Wendy Renée Greenwood | Daniel John Kelly | Phil C. Leveling | Theresa Masters | Cammie Middleton-Helmsing | Hannah Ryan | Laura Singleton | Anna Skidis | Robert Thibaut | Joshua Thomas | Troy Turnipseed
JOAN LIPKIN (Executive Producer/Writer & Director, “Are You Married?”) is Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company, which was founded to put the principles of cultural diversity into innovative theatrical practice and promote arts based civic dialogue and activities. She divides her time between New York City, St. Louis and other parts of the US. A playwright, lyricist, director, educator, activist and social critic, her award-winning work has been featured on network television, National Public Radio, the BBC and the Associated Press. Among her awards and honors includes being named the 2011 Arts Innovator of the Year by Arts and Education. Her work has been published and presented throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland and Australia. (back to top)
LEON BRAXTON (Executive Producer) has been active in the St. Louis LGBT community for over 25 years, raising countless dollars, serving on the board of the St. Louis AIDS Foundation and as a Master Guardian with Project Ark since 2004. In addition to the Center, he serves on the boards of Pride St. Louis, Miss Gay Missouri America. and St. Louis Effort for AIDS, and is also the founder of the I CARE! Campaign. Leon currently works for Vital VOICE as Executive Assistant. He has a successful background in finance and is also known for his illusion of the incomparable Dieta Pepsi. Leon has performed with That Uppity Theatre Company in Stonewall: Why We March and The State of Marriage. (back to top)
MICHAEL B. PERKINS (Associate Producer/Director, “Surprise”) has many artistic abilities in his “toolbox” and has been honored to use many of them for That Uppity Theatre Company since 2011. Michael primarily works with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis in their education programs as an actor/teaching artist. Michael holds a BFA in Directing from Lindenwood University and is a St. Louis-based freelance artist who has worked with just about every local theatre company in varied capacities. www.michaelbperkins.com (back to top)
CHRISTOPHER LIMBER (Director, "Black Eye") is Education Director for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, whose Education Tour has earned two consecutive Kevin Kline Awards for Outstanding Production for Young People: 2008 for Me & Richard 3, and 2009 for Quick-Brewed Macbeth (both of which he wrote and produced, and are published by Playscripts, Inc.) He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Dramatists Guild of America. His 30-year career includes hundreds of productions as an actor, director, playwright, and composer. Mr. Limber has directed numerous productions for the Shakespeare Festival, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis, as well as the Judy Award-winning production of Bent for HotHouse Theatre and Twelfth Night for St. Louis Shakespeare, which was named “Best Shakespeare Production of 2002” by the Riverfront Times. Since 1980, he has taught theatre, Shakespeare, voice, and improvisation for the Festival, COCA, and at numerous universities. Mr. Limber is a certified member of the National Guild of Hypnotists, and specializes in helping performers tap their full potential. (back to top)
LEE ANNE MATHEWS (Director, "My Jesus Year") has been a theatre professional for many years. While her primary career focus has been acting and musical theatre, Lee Anne has found herself in every corner of the theatrical process. As an Equity actor, she has traveled the globe working in several regional theatres, theme parks, and cruise ships. Some highlights from her acting career include a six month stint at Tokyo Disneyland in The Diamond Horseshoe Revue, shows at the Muny (Damn Yankees, Footloose), and productions of The Wild Party and Cabaret at the highly acclaimed freeFall Theatre Company in St. Petersburg. She has been nominated for a Kevin Kline Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change), and has had more than 500 hot flashes as the Soap Star in Menopause the Musical here in St. Louis. Backstage, Lee Anne has worked as a union stage manager, choreographer, director, producer and educator. She is the founder of the Alaska Shakespeare Festival in Denali, Alaska, and she is currently an educator of theatre at Coca and Crossroads College Preparatory School. As a director, she has tackled the greats, from Shakespeare to Sondheim, and is inspired by how much each experience can expand our horizons in unexpected ways. Lee Anne is very proud to be a part of this play festival, and hopes that the art of theatre will continue to bring us together as a community. Enjoy the show! (back to top)
MARTY STANBERRY (Director, "Zoo Story 2.0") is HotCity Theatre’s Artistic Director. Favorite directing credits include THE DIVINE SISTER, THE NORMAL HEART (staged reading) THE WINNERS, WHY TORTURE IS WRONG AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEM, COCKEYED, and more. Although it’s been a while since Marty’s been on stage, his favorite acting credits include Greta in BENT, Jake in A LIE OF THE MIND, Bill Reach in DOWN THE ROAD, Al in THE BABY DANCE, Phil in HURLYBURLY and Gordon in the American Premiere of IN A LITTLE WORLD OF OUR OWN. Marty holds a Masters of Fine Arts degree from Northern Illinois University's professional actor training program. I am very honored to be part of this theatrical event focusing on LGBT issues. How exciting it is to be living on the cusp of a movement that has fought for many years for acceptance and legal recognition – to be part of that momentum is extremely rewarding for me both personally and professionally! (back to top)
BONNIE TAYLOR (Director, "Waiting for the Skell") thanks the producers of Briefs for the opportunity to direct EM Lewis' WAITING FOR THE SKELL. For last year's festival, she directed another of Lewis' short plays, PARTNERS. Most recently, Bonnie directed a full production of Argentine playwright Lucia Laragione’s COOKING WITH ELISA for Upstream Theater and a stage reading of David Hare’s Berlin/Wall, featuring Chris Limber and Joan Lipkin. She taught theater history, comparative literature, and acting at Washington University and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville after receiving her PhD in Comparative Literature and MA in Dramatic Literature from Washington University. As a member of Actors’ Equity, she has acted and stage-managed with several professional St. Louis theaters.Currently, she serves as co-Artistic Director with Lydia Ruffin for Art & Soul Cafe. It is always an honor to be able to showcase one's own work, but it is especially gratifying to do this in the context of a cause and community. The ten-minute play format offers opportunity to many theater artists at one time, and the value of diversity is reflected not only in the choice of plays and artists but also in the audience Briefs attracts. (back to top)
RICH ESPEY (“Zoo Story 2.0”) Rich’s plays have been produced throughout the United States. Recent highlights include THREE ANDYS produced by Single Carrot Theatre and STAND UP!, a monologue included in CENTERSTAGE’s “My America” project. Rich is a three time winner of the Carol Weinberg Award for best play at the Baltimore Playwrights Festival for FIFTY-FIFTY, HOPE’S ARBOR, and FOLLOWING SARAH. Rich is the Baltimore Regional representative of the Dramatists Guild, a member of DC’s Playwrights Gymnasium and the Playwrights Group of Baltimore, has served as Chair of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival and is currently the President of the Board of Single Carrot Theatre. Check out samples of his work and a production history at richespey.net (back to top)
TONY FOSTER (“My Jesus Year”) is a founding member of the Elephant Theatre in Los Angeles and has written several works for the company including ASLEEP ON A BICYCLE. Other works have been produced in Michigan, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oregon, and New York. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, EST-LA, and Katselas Theatre Company’s PlayLab. Find out more at tonyplaywright.com (back to top)
CAROLYN GAGE (“Black Eye”) is a playwright, performer, director, and activist. The author of nine books on lesbian theatre and sixty-five plays, musicals, and one-woman shows, she specializes in non-traditional roles for women, especially those reclaiming famous lesbians whose stories have been distorted or erased from history. She won the 2011 Maine Literary Award in Drama, and in 2009, her collection of plays The Second Coming of Joan of Arc and Selected Plays won the Lambda Literary Award in Drama, the top LGBT book award in the US. All of her books and plays are available online at carolyngage.com. (back to top)
KEN HALLER (“Surprise”) is thrilled to be returning to BRIEFS this year as an actor as well as making his debut as a writer. He has appeared in numerous professional theatre productions in St. Louis area. Favorite roles include Claude in HAIR, Harry Hope in THE ICEMAN COMETH, the title role in MACBETH, Zig in BLEACHER BUMS, and Arthur in LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION! In 2012, Ken premiered “The TV Show,” his well-received new cabaret of songs written for television, in two sold-out weekends at the Kranzberg Arts Center, and made his directorial debut helming Al Fischer’s acclaimed new cabaret, “Breaking the Rules.” (back to top)
EM LEWIS (“Waiting for the Skell”) won the Steinberg/ATCA Award from the American Theater Critics Association for SONG OF EXTINCTION, which also won the Ashland New Plays Festival, University of Oregon’s EcoDrama Festival, the Ted Schmitt Award from the LA Drama Critics Circle, and Production of the Year at the LA Weekly Awards. It was published by Samuel French, and has been produced in San Diego, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and at the Guthrie. Lewis is a member of the Dramatists Guild. She’s from Oregon, and lived in southern California for a while; a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University prompted her to move to the Garden State, where she is working to finish MAGELLANICA: A NEW AND ACCURATE MAP OF THE WORLD. Her play PARTNERS was produced at last year’s BRIEFS festival and the world premiere of her play, GOODBYE, RUBY TUESDAY, was at HotCity Theatre in September 2012. emlewisplaywright.com (back to top)
LOLA VAN ELLA & SAMMICH THE TRAMP (“The Lady and the Tramp”) have been partners in crime, art and life for over 3 years. As performers, they have headlined festivals and shows all over the country, and will be headlining the New Zealand Burlesque Festival in October. They and their company, Van Ella Productions, also produce the wildly popular Beggar’s Carnivale, Show Me Burlesque Festival, Naughti Gras, and many others. When not working very hard on production, or traveling constantly, they are very much in love and spending time with their fur babies. (back to top)
NICOLE ANGELI (Zoogoer 3/Pookie, “Zoo Story 2.0”) thinks it’s awesome to be a part of BRIEFS. She has worked with Mustard Seed Theatre, New Jewish Theatre, St. Louis Shakespeare, as well as Magic Smoking Monkey, The Orange Girls, Spotlight Theatre, and NonProphet Theater Co. To her family and Ben, much love. Ah, hell…love for everyone! (back to top)
CHARLIE BARRON (Jerry, “My Jesus Year”) is excited to be a part of this wonderful festival and is thrilled to share the stage with such an amazing group of artists. He has been acting professionally in St. Louis for almost a decade and has worked with numerous local companies. Favorite credits include SUICIDE, INC. (R-S Theatrics), PLAYLAND (Mustard Seed Theatre), CHERRY DOCS (New Jewish Theatre). Go see a play! (back to top)
JENN BOCK (Ms. Marshall, “Black Eye”) is a St. Louis based theatre artist turned aspiring scientist/engineer. Besides this “brief” endeavor, her only break from studies will be at this spring’s annual William Inge Theatre Festival, where she enjoys working with Tony winners on new plays and musicals by award winning playwrights. And, yes, she is. (back to top)
JUSTIN IVAN BROWN (Buttercup, “Zoo Story 2.0") is a graduate of Ball State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance. He has performed across the country and even as far as London, England. Recent credits: Café Chanson (Upstream Theater); Southern Baptist Sissies (Citilites Theatre); Songs from an Unmade Bed (Citilites Theatre); Private Lives (Black Cat Theatre); The Wizard of Oz (Variety Children’s Charity). (back to top)
MAGGIE CONROY (Zoogoer 2/Kate, "Zoo Story 2.0") is thrilled to be on board with BRIEFS! An STL native, she has worked with Upstream Theater, HotCity Theatre, St. Louis Shakespeare, and Stray Dog Theatre. Maggie trained in the Suzuki and Viewpoints methods with the SITI Company and received her B.A. in Performance and Dance from SIUE. (back to top)
ROBERT LEE DAVIS, III (Pete, “Waiting for the Skell”) is a local film and theater actor who recently took on the roles of Jim in the stage production of BIG RIVER at SIUE in their 2012 Summer Showbiz showcase and as Avery Brown in the recent Black Rep production of THE PIANO LESSON. (back to top)
WENDY RENÉE GREENWOOD (Val, Waiting for the Skell”) happily returns to BRIEFS, acting again with her “Partner” Robert. Locally she has worked with Mustard Seed Theatre, Muddy Waters, That Uppity Theatre Co, HotCity Theatre, The New Jewish Theatre, Upstream Theater, and St. Louis Actors’ Studio; working next with HotCity Theatre, Max & Louie Productions, and Upstream. Thanks: Mom, and Bonnie. (back to top)
DANIEL JOHN KELLY (Jonathan, “Surprise”) is thrilled to return to BRIEFS with his same scene partner. He is an actor, director, and teaching artist working with COCA, Interchange, Springboard, and Mad Science of St Louis. Most recently he began producing “Plays on the Menu,” an exciting lunch-time play-reading series presented by the Lion’s Paw Theatre Company: playsonthemenu.org. (back to top)
PHIL C. LEVELING (Bob, “Zoo Story 2.0”) is so excited to be part of such a fun project! He would like to thank his family and especially his Mom and Dad for all their continued love, support, and enthusiasm, his friends for being great, and everyone involved with BRIEFS. (back to top)
THERESA MASTERS (Sharon, “Are You Married?”) is proud to be returning to perform in this year’s BRIEFS festival. Theresa can also be seen around town performing comedy and theatre. She teaches improv, sketch writing and stand-up comedy for the St. Louis Comedy Connection. This performance is dedicated to Lou with gratitude. (back to top)
CAMMIE MIDDLETON-HELMSING (Nurse, “Are You Married?”) has worked with the Metro Theater, A Spoonful of Honey Theater Company, and The St. Louis City Players. Trained at CASA, SLU and Webster University, her most recent credits include: SUPER COWGIRL AND MIGHTY MIRACLE, ONCE IN A WIFETIME, and as the Realtor on the hit syndicated television show, “Bang For Your Buck” on HGTV. Cammie is proud to make her debut with That Uppity Theatre Company. (back to top)
HANNAH RYAN (Amanda, “Black Eye”) is so excited to be performing for the BRIEFS festival! She is currently an eighth grader at Hixson Middle School, and has worked with The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Stray Dog Theater, COCA, and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. She thanks her parents, friends, and the rest of her family for their love and support. (back to top)
LAURA SINGLETON (Trish, “My Jesus Year”) has a BFA in Theater from Missouri State University. A few favorite credits include The Playing Ground (First Run Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It (Riverside Shakespeare); Murdering Marlowe (West End Players); and Louise Guenther in the 2011 feature film ‘Walther’. (back to top)
ANNA SKIDIS (Zoogoer 1/Carmen, “Zoo Story 2.0”) is a graduate of SIUE with a B.A. in Theatre Performance. Recent credits include: Psycho Beach Party, Spring Awakening, Urinetown, The Who’s Tommy, As Bees in Honey Drown, Evil Dead: The Musical (Stray Dog Theatre); Godspell (Mustard Seed Theatre); Adding Machine (R-S Theatrics); Whammy! and This is Not Funny (Theatre 310b). “SOLI DEO GLORIA” (back to top)
ROBERT THIBAUT (Nurse, “My Jesus Year”) is a Saint Louis native having graduated from Saint Louis University. Robert recently received a Kevin Kline Award for his performance in THE IMMIGRANT. He would like to thank all of his family and friend for their support. “To Anna my muse, I love every moment.” Enjoy the show! (back to top)
JOSHUA THOMAS (Mr. Kent, “Black Eye”) arrived in St. Louis after working in the Australian theatre industry, and has since worked with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Stray Dog, Orange Girls, Act Inc, (Insert Name Here) and Muddy Waters. where he currently serves on the board. He will next appear in Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ production of TWELFTH NIGHT. (back to top)
TROY TURNIPSEED (Reporter/Zoo Psychiatrist, “Zoo Story 2.0”) is thrilled to be returning to the BRIEFS Festival having appeared in A SHINY PAIR OF COMPLICATIONS last year. Recent credits include GOOD (St. Louis Actor’s Studio), THE NORMAL HEART (HotCity Theatre), AVENUE Q [insert name here], SHE LOVES ME and MAN OF LA MANCHA (Insight Theatre Co.). Troy holds an MBA from Saint Louis University where he is also the Director of “Summer at SLU”. Love and thanks to Chris. (back to top)