That Uppity Theatre Company, in partnership with Vital VOICE Media, co-produced BRIEFS: A Festival of Short Lesbian and Gay Plays, February 24 - 26, 2012. More than a traditional theatrical production, BRIEFS is a community event, innovatively bringing together a diverse audience from the LGBT community, straight allies, local businesses, and local artists and involving eight different directors and playwrights. Located at La Perla, a historic downtown bank renovated for events of all kinds, a DJ will also be spinning music between plays, and a cash bar as well as valet parking will be available.
According to executive co-producer Joan Lipkin (Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company), the short play format in Briefs provides 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 this unprecedented event in the St. Louis area, including:
- “Shiny Pair of Complications” by J. Stephen Brantley, directed by Edward Coffield
- “Partners” by EM Lewis, directed by Bonnie Taylor
- “Ladies’ Room” by Carolyn Gage, directed by Annamaria Pileggi
- “Write This Way” by Donna Hoke, directed by Ed Reggi
- “The Date” by Joan Lipkin, directed by Michael B. Perkins
- “Madrigal in Black and White” by Patricia Montley, directed by Vanessa Roman
- “Attack of the Dorothies” by J.E. Phelan, directed by Joan Lipkin
The directors have been meeting for several months to discuss each other's pieces and issues pertinent to the production. "Briefs has already proven to be a very extraordinary dialogue with a phenomenal group of local artists. I hope and believe this will become another unique and traditional part of the St. Louis Arts Community," said Edward Coffield.
According to Associate Producer Michael B. Perkins, who is also directing, “Briefs will hopefully 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 is the first of its kind in St. Louis 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.
Joan Lipkin | Darin Slyman | Michael B. Perkins | Leon Braxton
Edward Coffield | Annamaria Pileggi | Ed Reggi | Vanessa Roman | Bonnie Taylor
Robert Davis | Elizabeth Graveman | Kylie Gregory | Wendy Greenwood | Ken Haller | Bob Harvey | Daniel John Kelly | Chuck Lavazzi | Theresa Masters | Shane P. Mullen | Reginald Pierre | Ariel Saul | Troy Turnipseed | Lola van Ella | Erin Vlasaty | Donna Weinsting | Bobbie Williams
JOAN LIPKIN (Executive Producer/Director, “Attack of the Dorothies”) 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)
DARIN SLYMAN (Executive Producer), a former celebrity stylist, brings over 15 years experience from the style industry. From styling celebrity clients, producing photo shoots and contributing to various print, radio and TV outlets, Darin has been inside and out of this fabulous fashion world. In 2009, Darin switched up careers and is now the publisher of the Vital VOICE Magazine where he enjoys bringing LGBT media to the forefront for the St. Louis market. Darin’s fresh approach to LGBT media has taken Vital VOICE to a whole new level. “I want to showcase, exonerate and promote anything and everything that is awesome about the LGBT community.” (back to top)
MICHAEL B. PERKINS (Associate Producer/Director, “The Date”) has many artistic abilities in his “toolbox” and is humbled to use many of them for That Uppity Theatre Company. Michael primarily works with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis in their education programs as an actor/teaching artist, and also directs for Theatre Chaverim at the Jewish Community Center. 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)
LEON BRAXTON (Production Assistant) 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)
EDWARD M. COFFIELD (Director, “Shiny Pair of Complications”)has been associated with some of the top theatres in the United States including The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The La Jolla Playhouse, The National Theatre of the Deaf, The Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock, and The Alley Theatre in Houston. In St. Louis, Edward has directed for The New Jewish Theatre, Stray Dog, The Orange Girls and Insight Theatre Company. His numerous productions include The SantaLand Diaries, Driving Miss Daisy, Falsettos, Crossing Delancey, Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh, Oklahoma, Big River, Little Shop of Horrors, The Last 5 Years, Man of La Mancha, Laughter on the 23rd, Floor, Man of La Mancha, She Loves Me, the Immigrant and Collected Stories. Edward is on the faculty of the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University, the Artistic Associate for The New Jewish Theatre, and the Executive Producer for The Kevin Kline Awards. For The Rep Edward produced the critically acclaimed The Laramie Project: 10 Years later as part of a national theatre project.
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ANNAMARIA PILEGGI (Director, “Ladies’ Room”)is an actor and director whose career has included collaborations with writers Theresa Rebeck and Barbara Damashek, directors Barney Simon of the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa, and David Wheeler of the American and Trinity Repertory Theatres. Locally, she has directed at That Uppity Theatre Company, New Jewish, Onsite, Muddy Waters, Dramatic License, and HotCity theatres. In addition, she is on staff at HotCity as an Associate Director and Co-Producer of the theatre’s Greenhouse New Play Development Series. Pileggi is a Senior Lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis and has been on the faculty of the Performing Arts Department since 1991. A three time recipient of the University’s College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award, Pileggi directs and teaches courses in Acting, Movement for the Actor, and Musical Theatre. She also serves as an administrator and acting instructor for the department’s Shakespeare Globe Program in London. Pileggi has an MFA in acting from Brandeis University. (back to top)
ED REGGI (Director, “Write This Way”) is an Emmy award winning actor, emcee, comedian and producer of live theatre. mastered improvisational comedy while training at Chicago’s historic The Second City and with its’ founder Paul Sills. Reggi is a proud alum of the Commercial Theater Institute of New York City. He was named Artist of the Year in 2008 by Young Audiences of St. Louis and is the recipient of the 2010 Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign of St. Louis. Today, Reggi is the managing producer of digital engagement at our local PBS television station, The Nine Network of Public Media. Reggi became a nationally recognized LGBT activist shortly after Proposition 8 passed in California in 2008. Using his theatrical background and love for social media, Ed decided to use his voice to help highlight LGBT issues. On May 1, 2009 Reggi and his partner of 13 years, Scott Emanuel, were legally married in Iowa along with 16 other same-sex couples from Missouri. Ten marriage buses later, they have successfully helped over 120 LGBT couples obtain marriage licenses, across the Iowa border.
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VANESSA ROMAN (Director, “Madrigal in Black and White”) began her career working in theater in 2001, while she was earning her degree in English/Media Communications from Webster University. Since then she has worked for many professional theater companies in the St. Louis area, acting, directing and as an award winning produced playwright. Currently, she is resident director and dramaturge for First Run Theatre as well as serving as President of the St. Louis chapter of MCA (Media Communications Association). In addition to theater, she is also an award winning screen writer and director. Ms. Roman has appeared in, and written and directed several films that have played internationally. (back to top)
BONNIE TAYLOR (Director, “Partners”) has most recently directed for St. Louis' Upstream Theater. In January she directed the main stage production of Argentine playwright Lucia Laragione’s Cooking with Elisa. An article on Elisa’s design was featured in the March 2011 issue of American Theatre magazine. She also directed a stage reading of David Hare’s Berlin/Wall. Bonnie has taught classes in 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, Taylor has acted and staged managed with several professional St. Louis theaters. She is honored to participate in the first Briefs festival. (back to top)
ROBERT LEE DAVIS, III (Pete, “Partners”) has performed as the lead character in Unpleasant Excitement (Harris-Stowe State University) and Godspell (Bravo Theatre Group). His film work includes “Streetballers” and “The Return” (starring Tim Robbins). Robert has also performed with The Black Rep, Headcase Pictures, Ronin Pictures, Pirate Pictures, Murphy/Harris Creative, and State of Mind Pictures. He has also trained with Harry Goyernick and Bill Chott. Robert would like to thank God for the opportunities given to him.
ELIZABETH GRAVEMAN (Val, “Partners”) is incredibly thrilled to be included in “Partners” and the Briefs festival. She had a lot of fun with this show and met some new faces. Elizabeth received her BFA in Acting from Lindenwood University. Recent productions include Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (R-S Theatrics), Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical (NonProphet Theatre Co.), Chess (Lindenwood Univ.), The Heiress (Kirkwood Theatre Guild), Grand Hotel: The Musical (Overdue Theatre). (back to top)
KYLIE GREGORY(Nicole, “Ladies’ Room”) is a 21-year-old from Atlanta, Ga, who is currently attending Washington University in St. Louis to study German. This is her first play and she would like to thank Anna for giving her this amazing opportunity and the courage to take advantage of it; Ariel and Amanda for making the process smooth and enjoyable; her mom for making her take an acting class in the first place; and Jeremy, for always thinking about her before yelling at strangers. (back to top)
KEN HALLER (Pun, “The Date”) has appeared in numerous professional theatre productions in St. Louis area. His 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! Since 2009, Ken has performed his acclaimed cabaret show, “Song by Song by Sondheim,” to sold-out houses in St. Louis, Chicago, and New York, and is currently working on “The TV Show,” a cabaret of songs written for television, set to premier at the Kranzberg Arts Center on June 1-2, 2012. (back to top)
BOB HARVEY (Tom, “Shiny Pair of Complications”) is delighted to be a part of the BRIEFS Festival. You may have seen Bob at The New Jewish Theater, Actors’ Studio, Gaslight, Stray Dog, Act Inc, Avalon and others. Bob was honored to receive his second Kevin Kline nomination this year for his portrayal of Gregory Solomon in Arthur Miller’s The Price at Avalon Theater . He looks forward top working with Troy (for the first time) and to be directed by Edward Coffield (for the second time). He thanks his family and friends for their support and Jackie for putting up with him. (back to top)
DANIEL JOHN KELLY (Zak, “The Date”) has over 20 years of experience in professional theatre. He played Claudius and Shakespeare in the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ Education Tour. In CT he performed at the Yale Repertory, the Long Wharf, and Westport Country Playhouse. In New York City he has been seen at the Pulse, Miranda, and Don’t Tell Mama. He is a director, teaching artist, and Mad Scientist working with COCA, Interchange, Springboard, and Mad Science of St. Louis as “Dangerous Dan.” Dan is thrilled to be making a new life here in with his husband of 20 years. Thanks Doug. (back to top)
CHUCK LAVAZZI (Winston, “Attack of the Dorothies”) has been an actor, sound designer, and critic since the Bronze Age. He has appeared with Stray Dog, Metro Theatre Company, The Rep, West End Players, St. Louis Actor’s Studio, and even the St. Louis Symphony, where he narrated PETER AND THE WOLF. His one-man show “Just a Song at Twilight: the Golden Age of Vaudeville” was presented at the Missouri History Museum in October. Chuck is the senior performing arts critic at 88.1 KDHX. He and his lovely wife Sherry live in Soulard in a house that’s older than both of them put together. (back to top)
THERESA MASTERS (Carol, “Attack of the Dorothies”) is thrilled to be a part of this project. She also had the pleasure of working with Joan Lipkin on THE STATE OF MARRIAGE and THE BIG FAT LGBT SHOW OF SHOWS for That Uppity Theatre Company. Theresa can be seen around town performing stand-up comedy, improv, and the occasional theatrical show. She also teaches improv, dialects and accents, sketch writing and stand-up comedy and produces shows for the Improv Trick. She would like to thank her husband, parents and friends for their support and the cast and crew for being so great! (back to top)
SHANE P. MULLEN (Alec, “Write This Way”) Since graduating from Truman State, Shane has worked with Project Improv St. Louis, Stray Dog Theatre, and Immediacy Theatre Project’s Solo Lab. While not acting, Shane bartends at Novak’s Bar & Grill and sells books at Left Bank Books. (back to top)
REGINALD PIERRE (Writer, "Write This Way") is a St. Louis native who loves being active in the local theatre scene. He is an avid film and television lover, who can name every Oscar winning Best Picture, Actor, and Actress (both leads and supporting) by name and year. Recent theatre work includes DEBBIE DOES DALLAS: THE MUSICAL (NonProphet Theatre Co.) and PALMER PARK (St. Louis Actors Studio & The Black Rep). He is also eagerly anticipating performing in the premiere show for Tesseract Theatre Company entitled AM I BLACK ENOUGH YET? in March. (back to top)
ARIEL SAUL (Rae, “Ladies’ Room”), a 20-year-old hailing from the Bronx, New York, and a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, studying drama and linguistics. She is very excited to perform in her first professional play, and unbelievably grateful to have the opportunity to do so! Her recent credits include THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, ANATOL (Ilona), and LES MISERABLES(Fantine). Ariel gives thanks to Anna, Amanda, and Kylie, who all made this process smooth, challenging, and fun, and hopes that you enjoy this "brief" struggle for support and understanding in a world of the highest stakes. (back to top)
DANA A. SIMS (Cleo, “Madrigal in Black and White”) is a full time student and a thriving singer, actress, and writer with aspirations of producing her own productions in the future. She has appeared in various theatre productions in the St. Louis area; her most recent productions were STEEL MAGNOLIAS (R.S. Theatrics) and BLACK NATIVITY (The St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre Company). She has also appeared inFOR COLORED GIRLS... (North County Ensemble Players, St. Louis Community College). Her first love is singing and she had musical theatre debut in The Muny's JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR in their 87th season. Dana would like to thank her parents, family, and friends for their support throughout this production and ones prior. God Bless! (back to top)
TROY TURNIPSEED (Kevin, “Shiny Pair of Complications”) is honored to be a part the Briefs Festival and working with Edward Coffield again. Recent stage credits include AVENUE Q (Insert Name Here Theatre Co.), SHE LOVES ME and MAN OF LA MANCHA (Insight Theatre Co.), THE CRUMPLE ZONE (Citilites Theatre), LAST OF THE RED HOT MAMAS (New Jewish Theatre), I LOVE MY WIFE and THE WILD PARTY (New Line Theatre), and THE STATE OF MARRIAGE (St. Louis Actor’s Studio and That Uppity Theatre Co). (back to top)
ERIN VLASATY (Liz, “Madrigal in Black and White”) has been active in the St. Louis theatre for the last five years having most recently appeared onstage as “Lenny” in The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves’ production of CRIMES OF THE HEART. She recently directed Shirley Lauro's A PIECE OF MY HEART at Clayton Community Theatre as well as Oscar Wilde’s AN IDEAL HUSBAND for Soundstage Productions. She also served as the assistant director for Marble Stage Theatre’s production of Neil Labute’s MEDEA REDUX which won first place at the 2011 MOACT State Festival. She is grateful to Vanessa for the opportunity to participate in this wonderful festival. (back to top)
LOLA VAN ELLA (Emily, "Write This Way") is an international burlesque singer, dancer, producer, instructor and emcee. One of the premier names in burlesque, she performs frequently and produces many shows, including the international Show-Me Burlesque Festival, and Beggar's Carnivale with her partner Sammich the Tramp. Lola is the CEO of VanElla Productions and Studio, which is the home of burlesque, vaudeville and variety education and entertainment in St. Louis and the only boutique school like it in the area. She also teaches at and various festivals and Universities all over the country, and often travels to bring the art of burlesque and striptease to different communities around the world. (back to top)
DONNA WEINSTING (Shadow Liz, “Madrigal in Black and White”) is pleased to be a part of this exciting event. Donna has performed with most of the professional theatre companies in St. Louis and is a standup comic. She has received two Judy Awards from the Post-Dispatch and two Kevin Kline nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a play and was honored to win in 2007. Next up for Donna is a new cabaret act at the Kranzberg on March 30 and 31 and she will be in JACOB AND JACK for New Jewish Theatre in May. (back to top)
BOBBIE WILLIAMS (Shadow Cleo, “Madrigal in Black and White”) Communication is a very powerful tool and I’ve had the privilege of using that skill in many ways through theatre: as the offstage voice of Mom, the secretary, and grandma for First Run and Metro Theatres: telling from the grave my family’s tragic tale of sickness and death in ELEGIES, dispensing cold facts to a frightened person on the other end of a telephone line in SORRY, WRONG NUMBER, conspiring to kill my spouse with deadly ingredients in his favorite dessert in PECAN SURPRISE, and now seeking to redirect my own subconscious thinking in “Madrigal...” Join me this time inside the mind. (back to top)
"A Festival of Short Lesbian & Gay Plays"
Jaime Mowers, West End Word
"LGBT Themes are focus of short play festival"
Patricia Corrigan, St. Louis Jewish Light
"'Briefs' to Shine, Feb. 24-26"
Andrea Braun, Vital VOICE
INTERVIEW - Joan Lipkin, Edward Coffield, & Donna Weinsting
Cityscape, St. Louis Public Radio
Gay play festival boasts big-name St. Louisans onstage and in the wings
Nancy Fowler, STL Beacon
Briefs Illuminates @ La Perla
Andrea Braun, Vital VOICE
BWW Reviews: That Uppity Theatre Company Partners with Vital VOICE on Entertaining Play Festival BRIEFS
Chris Gibson, Broadway World
"Briefs" theater festival tackles LGBT issues in short plays
Andie Hutner, Student Life (Washington University in St. Louis)
REVIEW: Brevity is the soul of wit
Bob Wilcox, KDHX