The Festival The Shows Get Involved

 

2008

2006 | 2012

 

The Immediacy Theatre Project
JOHNNY A CANNON II:

JOHNNY DESCENDING

St. Louis Shakespeare

KING LEAR

Bill Chott Presents

COMEDY ON PARADE

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
FROST / NIXON
Stray Dog Theatre
REGRETS ONLY
The NonProphet Theatre Company
THE PATRIOTIC FREEDOM BINGO MACHINE
The Orange Girls
SCORCHED

West End Players Guild

COPENHAGEN

New Line Theatre
HAIR
That Uppity Theatre Company
COMING OUT STORIES 2008
Stray Dog Theatre
PIPPIN

St. Louis Actors' Theatre

ANTIGONE

St. Louis Actors' Theatre

9 PARTS OF DESIRE

  Upstream Theater
BLOOD KNOT

THE FESTIVAL

    

"I'm not only an artist, but a citizen." -- Broadway director Bartlett Sher

  

Twelve of St. Louis' most exciting, most adventurous theatre companies came together in an unprecedented collaboration to bring to local audiences the second bi-annual St. Louis Political Theatre Festival in fall 2008. As part of the Festival, St. Louis Actors' Studio announced an entire season of shows about politics and power, New Line Theatre ran Hair for six weeks, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis held pre-show and post-show discussions about Frost/Nixon, and The Immediacy Theatre Project held an opening reception for the Festival on August 15, after opening night of the world premiere of Johnny A. Cannon II: Johnny Descending.

 

The 2006 festival was a tremendous success and received some national press as well as plenty of local coverage. The 2008 festival featured fourteen shows (several of them St. Louis premieres) running from August through November, in venues all over the St. Louis metro area (like a smaller version of the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival), bringing the most important issues of the day to the stages of St. Louis. These shows challenged audiences to think about and get involved in the great struggles of our times and our country, as we found ourselves in the middle of one of the most crucial Presidential elections in our lifetimes.

The Festival was created for two reasons. First, to remind people that theatre addresses with enormous power the biggest issues of our times, better than any other art form by personalizing those issues in the bodies of live actors. Second, to remind St. Louisans of the importance of being engaged in our government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." The stage has forever been a place where political issues have been examined and challenged. After all, democracy and theatre were born in the same place and even in the same decade! The ritualistic and social significance of the earliest Greek performances in central arenas brought relevance to many controversial topics -- war, politics, sex, religion. We do the same today.

Check out this PBS History of Political Theatre webpage and an American Political Satire webpage, as well as the DVD A Patriot Act, a funny, sometimes disturbing, live stage performance by media professor Mark Crispin Miller about the mindset and language of our government. And find other great political films and documentaries at CustomFlix.com and at Docurama.com.

Throughout history, the times of greatest tumult are also the times of the greatest theatre -- in America in the 1930s and in the 1960s and 70s, but also in Elizabethan England and modern day Iraq. We believe that America in the new millennium is one such place and time. Back during the height of the Depression, the American theatre became increasingly, intensely political, with shows like Waiting for Lefty, The Cradle Will Rock, Power, Awake and Sing!, One Third of a Nation, It Can't Happen Here, Pins and Needles, and many others. Once America entered World War II, rabid patriotism overpowered political dissent, and political theatre faded away. But when the 60s arrived with renewed political and social unrest, the theatre returned to fiercely political drama and satire, with shows like Hair, Viet Rock, Cabaret, McBird, US, Tom Paine, Futz, and many others. But the materialism of the 80s and the dot-com prosperity of the 90s lessened the public appetite for political theatre once again. Then came the September 11 attacks, and the Bush administration. Now, political theatre is back again, and it's healthier and fiercer than ever.

Festival organizer Scott Miller, artistic director of New Line Theatre, says, "I reject the notion that people go to the theatre to escape -- I've never believed it and I never will -- and I fully embrace the notion that we are the shamans of our tribe. We are the ones chosen to tell our stories, to document our civilization and our history, to make sense of our world, to start conversations about everything that matters in our lives. Shamans are the intermediaries between the natural world and the spiritual world, and I can't imagine a better definition of a theatre artist."

The companies involved in the Festival believe that live theatre is one of the most powerful tools for social and political change, appealing not just to the intellect but, more importantly, to the emotions and to our primeval need for stories that make order out of the chaos of our world. In what proved to be the most important and most exciting political season in decades, the theatres of St. Louis reaffirmed our commitment to involving the people of our region in the thrill of politically relevant, live theatre.

 

Festival Announcement in the Post-Dispatch

Item in American Theatre magazine

Festival Announcement on TheatreMania.com

Announcement on MayorSlay.com

Column from the St. Louis Beacon

Relive the 2006 St. Louis Political Theatre Festival

Post-Dispatch Article about the 2006 festival.

 

THE SHOWS

 

The Immediacy Theatre Project presents the world premiere of
JOHNNY A CANNON II: JOHNNY DESCENDING
August 15-30, 2008, Fridays and Saturdays, 8:00 p.m.

The Tin Ceiling, 3159 Cherokee

618-978-8470
www.immediacytheatre.org

Johnny A Cannon is back in this sequel to Immediacy Theatre Project's 2006 satire on pop culture. After Johnny defeated Saruman the Puce and Nefarious Villain, he and Party Guest Number Four departed to live their life of peace together, but a new and darker thing threatens the safety of the United Confederacy of the New Americas. The Others have been killing off the Secret Council of the Six, and only Johnny's mother now remains. Meanwhile, the incumbent President President fights for reelection against his upstart opponent Dark Horse, Danny DeVito searches for a mystic stone, and all our hopes rest on Goldie Hawn Wenobi. 

Opening Night Reception for the St. Louis Political Theatre Festival

after the August 15 performance at The Tin Ceiling.
 

St. Louis Shakespeare presents

KING LEAR

August 15-24, 2008

Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square

314-361-5664

www.stlshakespeare.org

When England's aging King Lear renounces his throne to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, treachery, madness and murder soon follow. After banishing Cordelia, his loyal daughter, Lear is betrayed and cast out by her elder sisters, Goneril and Regan. Meanwhile, evil brews at Gloucester castle as Edgar falls victim to his brother Edmund's deceptions.

 

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents
FROST / NIXON
September 3-28, 2008, call for show times
Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts, 130 Edgar Road
314-968-4925
www.repstl.org

David Frost’s 1977 interviews with Richard Nixon, following the Watergate scandal and the President’s humiliating resignation, drew the largest audience ever for television news. Could this British talk show host, with a playboy reputation and no known political convictions, be the one to elicit the apology the world awaited from the man at the center of one of America’s greatest political scandals? An Olivier, Tony Award and Drama Desk nominee for Best Play by Peter Morgan. Pre-show discussions Sept. 23 and 25, and post-show discussions performances on Sept. 10, 11, 18, and 24.

 

The NonProphet Theatre Company presents
THE PATRIOTIC FREEDOM BINGO MACHINE
September 5, 2008, 8:00 p.m.
Off Broadway, 3505 Lemp Avenue
314-752-5075
www.nptco.org
The NonProphets take their award winning sketch comedy show and turn it on its political ear by presenting 24 sketches that hit all the hot button issues of the day. No side is spared in this free-for-all night of self-righteous comedy. Special guest host to be announced.


Stray Dog Theatre presents
REGRETS ONLY
September 11-27, 2008, Thurs. -Sat., at 8:00 p.m., and Sept. 27 at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m.
Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Avenue
314-865-1995

www.StrayDogTheatre.org

Paul Rudnick's topical comedy of upper class manners explores the politics of marriage, friendships, and The Powers That Be. In a Park Avenue penthouse high above Manhattan we meet a prominent attorney, his deliriously social wife and her closest friend, one of the world’s most successful fashion designers who has recently lost his gay lover. Add a daughter’s wedding plans, some major gowns, the President of the United States, and stir.
 

New Line Theatre presents
HAIR
September 11-Oct. 18, 2008, Weds.-Sat., 8:00 p.m.
Washington University South Campus (formerly CBC High School), 6501 Clayton Road, just east of Big Bend
314-534-1111
www.NewLineTheatre.com
The Great American Love-Rock Musical, truly an experience like none other you've ever had in the theatre, still one of the most important works in the history of the American theatre, a piece about so much more than its drugs and rock music and its famous nude scene. Drawing from the anti-war movement, the hippie culture, the experimental theatre movement, the drug culture, rock and roll, the Beat poetry of Allen Ginsberg, Eastern philosophies, and so much more, HAIR emerged in 1967 as one of the towering achievements of the twentieth century, a work of theatre so fully realized, so culturally significant, so shockingly real and honest -- and so iconically American -- that still today it retains its power to move, thrill, and shock audiences, and to change forever the lives of those who work on it.

 

The Orange Girls present
SCORCHED
September 12-28, 2008, Fri. and Sat. 8:00 p.m., and Sun. 2:00 p.m.
Anheuser-Busch Studio Theatre at COCA, 524 Trinity Ave.
314-520-9557
www.orangegirls.org

As two adult children seek to resolve the mystery of their mother’s life, their journey to the truth forces them to reconsider who and what they are. The Orange Girls present the United States debut of Wajdi Mouawad’s award-winning play which celebrates the triumph of the spirit over the forces of silence, catastrophe and terrorism.


West End Players Guild presents
COPENHAGEN

September 19-21, 26-28,  8:00 p.m. Fri-Sat; 2:00 p.m. Sun
Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 N. Union
314-367-0025

www.westendplayers.org

Michael Frayn's drama about German Physicist Wenrer Heisenberg and his Danish counterpart, Niels Bohr, who revolutionized atomic science in the 1920s. Now, in 1941, they find themselves on opposite sides of a World War when they meet in Copenhagen.

 

St. Louis Actors' Studio presents

Jean Anouilh’s

ANTIGONE
Sept. 19-Oct. 5

Gaslight Theatre 358 N Boyle in historic Gaslight Square

314-458-2978

www.stlas.org

St. Louis Actors’ Studio opens its Power and Politics season with Antigone by French playwright Jean Anouilh.  This adaptation of the Greek tragedy sets Antigone in modern times. Originally produced in Nazi-occupied France, Antigone’s tragedy is not based on her inability to change her fate, rather it is founded on her futile struggle against the all-powerful state. This production is directed by artistic director Milt Zoth.

 

That Uppity Theatre Company presents

Playback Workshop Theatre in
COMING OUT STORIES 2008: YOURS, MINE, AND OURS
Oct 11, 2008 (National Coming Out Day), 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, Oct 12, 3:00 p.m.
Missouri Historical Society, Forest Park
314 995-4600
www.uppityco.com

With the  recent legalization of gay marriage in California,  have lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people moved into a different level of mainstream acceptance? Or is a backlash on the rise, especially in this election year? Given the political and social climate, what is the significance of "coming out," a traditional rite of passage? What are the advantages? The pitfalls? What might be the connections between coming out and getting married? Audience members of all genders and orientations will have the opportunity to share some of their own coming out stories as well as those of friends and family members through the spontaneity of skilled improvisation by Playback Workshop Theatre. This event was so well received by a sold-out crowd during the first St. Louis Political Theatre Festival that it is back by popular demand. But with improvisation, there are always new stories to be told and shared.

 

Stray Dog Theatre presents
PIPPIN
October 23-November 8, 2008, Thursday-Saturday, 8:00 p.m. and Nov. 8, 2:00 and 8:00 p.m.
Tower Grove Abbey
, 2336 Tennessee Avenue
314-865-1995
www.StrayDogTheatre.org

The classic musical tale of one man's search for the meaning of life follows the son of Charlemagne. The magical Leading Player narrates as Pippin endures trials of war, love, and politics before finding his true self. 

 

Upstream Theater presents
BLOOD KNOT
Oct. 23 - Nov 9, 2008, Thursday-Saturday 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 7:00 p.m.
Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand
314-863-1077
www.upstreamtheater.org
Athol Fugard's Blood Knot tells the story of two brothers in 1960's South Africa: one distinctly black, and one light-skinned enough to pass for white. Squeezed together in a run-down shack, the two men struggle with each other and themselves, with poverty and possibility, with hope and the bitter reality of apartheid. A brilliant exploration of the ties that bind -- or fetter, and a searing look at racism and its repercussions. 

 

St. Louis Actors' Studio presents

9 PARTS OF DESIRE
November 7- 23

Gaslight Theatre 358 N Boyle in historic Gaslight Square

314-458-2978

www.stlas.org

St. Louis Actors’ Studio presents a St. Louis premiere — Iraqi-American playwright Heather Raffo’s 9 Parts of Desire. First performed in August 2003, 9 Parts of Desire shines a spotlight on a cross-section of Iraqi women in “an unusually timely meditation on the ancient, the modern and the feminine in a country overshadowed by war.” Artistic Director Milt Zoth will direct this critically acclaimed show that The New Yorker calls “an example of how art can remake the world.”

 

Bill Chott presents
COMEDY ON PARADE
Monday nights throughout November, 8:00 p.m.
Atomic Cowboy, 4140 Manchester Ave
314-775-0775
www.atomic-cowboy.com
www.theimprovtrick.com
Star of television and film, Bill Chott presents the return of Comedy on Parade, St. Louis’s Independent Comedy Night, and all throughout November, the focus will be on politics. Before his last trip to LA, his edgy comedy showcase drew huge crowds that summoned up memories of the cutting edge comedy scene of long ago in Gaslight Square. In the last run of this amazing show, St. Louis was introduced to the stars of tomorrow. This time, he’s coming to The Atomic Cowboy.

GET INVOLVED!

 

Register to vote at Rock the Vote

The website FaithfulAmerica.org, a faith-based grassroots political organization

The excellent magazine Sojourners, focusing on politics, faith, and culture in America

CNN's Impact webapge at www.cnn.com/impact

The ACLU of Eastern Missouri, and the national ACLU

Protest.Net - worldwide calendar offers locations, dates and information for activism, protests, pickets, strikes, demonstrations, meetings, and direct political action.   

Progressive Secretary - letter writing cooperative sends out emails to Congress, the President, and elected officials on peace, ecology, civil rights, and other issues. Topics and messages are suggested and selected by participants. 

 

E-The People - a nonpartisan site working with over 400 online newspapers, television stations and Internet portals to bring government closer to the people, allowing users to send an e-mailed or faxed letter or a petition to over thousands of federal, state, and local officials. 

  

Amnesty International

322 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10001

212 807 8400

www.amnesty.org

 

NAACP
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore Maryland 21215
(410) 521-4939

www.naacp.org

  

MTV’s Fight for Your Rights: Take a Stand Against Discrimination

www.fightforyourrights.mtv.com

  

Doctors Without Borders

 6 E. 39th St., 8th floor
New York, NY 10016

(212) 679-6800

www.dwb.org

or www.doctorswithoutborders.org

  

Heifer Project International

P.O. Box 8058

Little Rock, AR 72203
(800) 422-0474

www.heifer.org

  

Nature Conservancy

4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100
Arlington, VA 22203-1606
1-800-628-6860

www.nature.org

 

Earth Island Institute

300 Broadway, Suite 28
San Francisco, CA 94133-3312

(415) 788-3666

www.earthisland.org

  

National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 710

Washington, DC 20036

202-483-5500

www.norml.org

 

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