Briefs: A Festival of Short LGBT Plays Opens Next Week

 In Culture


“Partners,” from Briefs 2012. Photo by Jules Brown.

Last year, the first-ever Briefs: A Festival of Short LGBT Plays was a blast. So much so, that we’re doing it again! I am thrilled to be back this year as one of the directors for EM Lewis’ “Waiting for the Skell.” The festival offers something for everyone: theater at its intimate best, a DJ, tons of friends and a full bar. Better yet, each show will be followed by a brief conversation with the cast and then the house stays open for a good hour for drinks and dancing.

The second Briefs festival previews this Thursday, February 28, with opening night Friday at 8pm at La Perla Downtown—more on the fabulous venue later. Because of sold-out performances last year, I had to beg, borrow, and steal (almost) to get friends in for standing-room-only. So, don’t wait to get tickets at the door—purchase them in advance from Brown Paper Tickets. As an extra benefit to getting your act together beforehand, you save $5 per ticket.

Briefs was conceived by Joan Lipkin, artistic director for That Uppity Theatre Company, who has produced some of the area’s most innovative programming for over twenty years. Joan found the ideal producing partners in Darin Slyman, CEO and publisher of Vital VOICE media, and Leon A. Braxton, Jr., executive director of the LGBT Center of St. Louis. Why the 10-minute play format? It’s fun and allows multiple playwrights, directors, and actors to be showcased. What is unique about this St. Louis theater festival is diversity. There is a nice mix of straight and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) artists that is reflected in an equally diverse audience.

Everyone can relate to love, no matter who the characters are. In one scene last year, two men negotiated the difficulties of dating and finding intimacy in the age of AIDS. There was not a dry eye in the house. In another, the piece that I directed, a lesbian cop bites the bullet and invites her working partner over for dinner to meet her real life partner—another woman. Can’t we all relate to these situations? Yes! We all get the need for love and you don’t have to identify as LGBT to totally enjoy Briefs.

The performers, like the plays themselves, incorporate a spectrum of gender, age, and orientation. Some are seasoned professional actors and others are new talents, but all are from our local St. Louis community, including Robert Davis, Wendy Renee, Ken Haller, Daniel John Kelly, Hannah Ryan, Joshua Thomas, Theresa Masters, Nicole Angeli, Justin Ivan Brown, Troy P. Turnipseed, Maggie Conroy, Lola van Ella and Sammy Tramp.

There will be seven plays again this year, selected from playwrights nationwide:

  • “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 me (Bonnie Taylor);
  • “Lady and the Tramp,” performed by Lola van Ella and Sammy the Tramp;
  • “Surprise,” by Ken Haller, directed by Michael B. Perkins; and
  • “Zoo Story 2.0,” by Rich Espey, directed by Marty Stanberry.

The venue is really cool. La Perla is on the first floor of the building owned by developer-entrepreneur, Amos Harris, who recently was featured in ALIVE Magazine’s 2013 Buzz List. The acting space is on the first floor—where the bar is. The second floor has a balcony, so couples can sit at two-tops and check out the audience on the sly. During the intermission and post show, the party atmosphere kicks in and rocks with disco music.

On a personal note, everyone who came to support me loved the feel of Briefs, the work, and the variety pack of plays. Don’t wait until we are sold-out! Round up your friends, get your tickets, park your car or hop the Metro Link, order your drink, sit back and let us take you into the lives and loves of everyday LGBT folks.

WHO That Uppity Theatre Company & The Vital VOICE
WHAT Briefs: A Festival of Short LGBT Plays
WHERE La Perla (312 N. 8th Street, St. Louis, MO 63101)
February 28 (Doors 7pm, show 8pm)
March 1 (Doors 7pm, show 8pm)
March 2, (Doors 2pm, show 3pm; doors 7pm, show 8pm)
March 3 (Doors 2pm, show 3pm)
TICKETS: $20 at the door, $15 in advance, purchased via Brown Paper Tickets. For more info, call 314.995.4600.

Bonnie Taylor is co-artistic director of Art & Soul Cafe, a nonprofit arts organization, and a stage director. Most recently, she directed “Cooking with Elisa” for Upstream Theater. After Briefs, she is looking forward to participating in the St. Lou Fringe Festival.

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