If March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb—or so they say. On the stage at St. Louis University March is surely roaring in; we're in the middle of a Kansas blizzard that's burying the roads in feet of snow. The last bus from Kansas City, on its way to Topeka, just manages to make it to Grace's Diner only thirty miles into Kansas. It can go no farther until the storm abates and the roads are cleared. So the travelers are stranded here for the night.
I just had a very exciting couple of days attending the staged readings of this year's Hotchner winners: "Ekphasia, or The Shadow Girl," by Cary Simowitz; "Kairos," by Kristen Oneal; and "Telegraph," by Will Jacob. The experience gave me great hope for the future of the American theatre.
The Mustard Seed Theatre opens its season with a world premiere of a new work by Jennifer Blackmer. It's called, simply, "Human Terrain," (not to be confused with the 2010 documentary film of the same name) and it's beautifully comfortable at Mustard Seed, which has a charter of examining moral questions. There is a tension between these softest of sciences and the hard facts of military force. Can they ever work together toward a common goal? And who decides the goal?
The St. Louis Cabaret Festival, under the guiding hand of Tim Schall, is, so far, a resounding success. Last night at the Sheldon an adoring, almost adulatory packed house welcomed that stellar cabaret artist Ann Hampton Callaway and her evening's tribute to Barbra Streisand.
"Meskerem": We'd call it September, but in the ancient calendar of Ethiopia Meskerem is the first month of the new year. It follows three dismal months of gloom and heavy rain. It's bright and sunny and it brings the renewal of hope.
Have you heard the one about Lieberman and the sheep? Or the one about Levinson and his nail business? Maybe the one about Kaminsky, the kleptomaniac?
The Terrapin Puppet Theatre visited COCA last week and they gave young St. Louis audiences a taste of some very fine children's theatre. This was the latest in a splendid series that COCA has offered for some years.
Can a horror be beautiful? In Euripedes' "Medea" we see that it can indeed. Of all revenge stories this is the revenge story. St. Louis University has mounted a fine production of Robinson Jeffers' free adaptation of Euripedes' play.
Pedro Calderon de la Barca is often called "the Spanish Shakespeare". His play, "Life is a Dream", is enjoying a superb production at SIU Edwardsville. This play, from 1635, is one of the brightest gems of the Golden Age of Spanish Drama. I thank the gods for university theatres; they seem the only producers who have the desire and the ability to present such classical wonders.
How often have you seen a modern play that was not written in America or England? Most St. Louis companies produce them rarely or never. How can we not be provincial in our outlook if we close our eyes and ears to most of the world? Phillip Boehm's Upstream Theater is a precious bulwark against that provincialism: they do only international essay writing service plays. And they do them very well.