The hottest show in St. Louis this weekend?

You only have October 2, 3 and 4 left to see Venus in Fur!Venus in Fur

Paula Stoff Dean “has it all” says Judith Newmark in her Post-Dispatch review. And Paula is showing it all off for one more weekend.

Review from Two on the Aisle

Review from Richard Green

See Paula and Chris Jones in David Ives’s Venus in Fur, directed by Steve Callahan, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

The End of an Era

Who doesn’t love familiarity? It is easy to relax into the every day rhythms of our lives. There is safety in the expected. There is calm.

Well, prepare to have your socks rocked because some big changes are coming to WEPG.

If you’re on our mailing list then you’ve become accustomed to receiving lovingly crafted and dutifully delivered postcards for each and every one of our fantastic shows, along with a brochure at the beginning of the year that heralded the start of a new season at West End Players Guild.

If you received the brochure for the 105th season in July, you may want to hold onto it since it may be a collector’s item one day. That mailing is the last you’ll receive from us.

Not to worry, we’re not breaking up with you; we’ve just entered the 21st century. WEPG HAS GONE DIGITAL!

There are various ways that you can stay connected to us:

First, subscribe to our email list. This is the absolute best way to make sure you don’t miss a single performance, fundraiser, or audition.

* indicates required



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Second, like us on Facebook. Our Facebook page is filled with fun facts, videos, images and all the good stuff you want to see on your newsfeed.

Third, visit this website regularly.

It’s all so easy!

See, change can be a good thing.

Now Hiring: Social Media Intern (Paid)

West End Players Guild is seeking a Social Media/Marketing Intern for its 2015-2016 season (now through April 22, 2016).This extremely flexible opportunity includes behind-the-scenes access to this historic St. Louis theatre company, guidance from marketing and public relations professionals, and money!

West End Players Guild is…
– One of the city’s oldest theatre traditions (the first show was in 1911)
– A non-profit organization (looks great on a resume)
– A professional non-Equity theatre company
– The city’s only underground theatre. Literally. The shows are performed on the stage of the Union Avenue Church.

You are…
– Looking to earn a little money with a second internship.
– A go-getter with experience in social media (Instagram, Vine, Facebook, SnapChat, Twitter, Tumblr, Periscope, HootSuite, etc.)
– The owner of a desktop computer or laptop with a functioning Internet connection.
– Able to attend select rehearsals and performances to live post.
– Interested in or have experience in live theatre.
– Generally cheerful and easily accessible via text/cellphone/email.

Responsibilities include…
– Social media planning and engagement
– Coordinating e-blast, collateral and press release distribution
– Conducting artist/production team interviews
– Assisting with front of house and production-related needs

This opportunity has flexible hours (5-15 a month). Those interested should email a resume and interest letter to Beth Davis: bdavisacts (at) gmail (dot) com

Threads

We’re starting the process of playreading again, and it makes me take a look back, see where we’ve been, what we’ve been producing. There’s a practical reason for that – don’t want too many of one kind of show over another, balance, how many actors, what does the set look like…but there’s also a look to see what the plays we’ve done are saying to me. Because it is all about me.

We’ve done a couple of shows that are really telling me to pay attention. Now I wonder what we should be doing as a society for people who have served their time, and when that time is truly up. I wonder what we are doing to take care of each other – are we providing services to people when they leave prison? Are we making sure people are able to transition from military service to civilian life? Sometimes these are not easy questions and the answers aren’t easy to come by – sometimes we’re talking about ugly, complicated situations. Are we asking our leaders to follow the rules, and holding them accountable when they don’t?

This is a time of year when a lot of needs are out in the open. Are we connecting to one another and truly trying to care for one another, with warmth, compassion, humor and kindness? Are we telling each other’s stories, to keep dreams and truth alive as we move forward? I hope so.

Ownership

I listen to Broadway show tunes all day (such luxury), and I have some kind of relationship with a lot of the songs I hear. I was in the show/lit the show/stage managed the show/directed the show…well, you get the idea. I was an active participator in producing the magic. So that explains why I love the productions I was a part of, but it does not explain why I would spend three hours of my life watching other people accept awards for shows I will never get to see in their original form. But watching the Tonys on Sunday night, I felt free to cheer, clap and occasionally sneer at what I was watching, and I had no obvious skin in that game.

How is it that we who love theatre have such a stake in it? We watch it, discuss it, read it, plan for pilgrimages to Broadway like the most rabid Cardinals fan waits for the Series. We OWN this slippery stuff, that disappears as soon as its created, and appears different to everyone who watches it. We know that whether the show is free or costs hundreds of dollars it”s still going to say something about us as human beings in a way that makes us feel. We try to explain to the unchurched that they can own it too and they just politely allow us our eccentricities.

We need to figure out a vocabulary that extends this sense of a relevant, living art form that is meaningful to everyone.

Old News

I’m going to see An Illiad tonight. It’s a story that’s part of our collective consciousness – we all know it as once upon a time…but we’ve all been touched by what rage brings us to, and how once we’ve gotten in it’s very difficult to get out again.

I was emailing with Sean about the relevance of theatre nowadays (because I don’t care what’s on your theatre marquee, all of us are trying to reach people who need to discover what they can get from an evening watching a play), and thinking about the classics. Then I dug this up.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/05/unburied-tamerlan-tsarvaev-and-the-lessons-of-greek-tragedy.html\

The present leads us directly to the past. And when we watch it, we can see choices, and consequences, and draw parallels between what was written and what currently exists in our world. Even if it’s an evening of pure escapism, there’s an element of truth – we recognize ourselves in what’s happening onstage.

I’m still working on the drawing-people-in piece, because I think it’s important for us as a society to discover (and rediscover) the issues we’ve been mulling over for a human lifetime – who falls in love and dies tragically while others live happily ever after, who draws the line in the sand, how are we alike, how are we different. I think it’s more immediate, more real when you see it in a theatre setting. Not because the people are sometimes only inches away from you, but because you’re not pushing the pause button, rescued from the tension by a commercial, or turning it off to finish it later when you have time. At the theatre you can’t escape. And when the story is an ancient one and we still see ourselves repeating it…well, it’s very old news, indeed.

Here and Now

I’m a collector. Not a serious one. You might even replace “collector” with “hoarder” (although like any hoarder I don’t think I’m that bad). I like to collect things to read, things I have read that meant something to me, things I’m going to read when I have a spare millisecond…well, you get the idea. So, when the pile gets to the tipping point, I go through it and find all the things I meant to do something with…sometime.

And I just found a terrific article from The Australian, dated December 3, 2012. Yeah. I’m comforting myself with the idea that it’s still in the same fiscal year. And rereading it, I’m so glad I kept it. It’s full of wonderful nuggets, like the idea that theatre is a resonating space, “the orderly harnessing of tones, semitones, harmonics and vibrations.” Andrew Upton makes the point that theatre has harmony, dissonance, contradictory ideas…and inside the article he talks about the responsibility of both audience and actor, because the whole moment in time takes place right here, right now.

I was sad to see that The Village Voice let its theatre critic go recently. We have so few educated voices talking about why the arts are important, any time one of them is silenced, we all are a bit the poorer for it. The performing arts describe life as we know it, as we wish it, as we think it might be, and the opportunity to share in that…right here, right now, makes us better human beings.

Critical

We know what we like (and what we don’t like) and even though we’re not always clear about the WHY, it seems like we tend to believe we’re right about whatever it is AND know that anyone who agrees with us is a cut above the common herd.

Which is why this amused me.

It caught my eye, because Richard Serra is a sore subject in St. Louis. His sculpture is almost universally maligned, and referred to frequently in restroom terms. Anyone willing to admit they even tolerate it keeps his/her head down.

So I kept reading. And came away with a couple of questions for myself. Am I willing to try again? See something I am completely convinced I’m going to hate (yes, I’m referring to you, Baz Lehrmann) and keep an open mind? I’m skeptical. But that’s the thing about the arts in general. Someone picks a different tempo…a different time period…a different line reading, and it’s like you turned a corner down an entirely different street – in another country.

And after reading this article, I’m left with an entirely different yardstick, with Serra on one end and Dr. Seuss somewhere in the middle. Something to think about.

Relationships

Sometimes I feel like people will never understand why the arts are important. If you’re not a member of the choir, there’s just no way to explain how the arts impact everyday life. Then I hear about a new arts immersion program which is making children more likely to come to school so they can learn. That’s huge. But there are also the smaller ways just this season has changed me.

Does it make me a bad person because I’m not a fan of Vincent van Gogh? My eyes involuntarily roll when someone talks about his genius. But I find myself listening more to news about him, and about other painters, since WEPG presented Inventing van Gogh. I’m looking for ways painters, potters and other creative soulds enrich the everyday. (I read today that the creators of Ragtime are writing a new musical about Degas’ Little Dancer, which made me think of COCA…but that’s another story).

I’m paying attention to stories about the incarcerated since This Wide Night made me ask the questions about how big a debt to society is. These questions about justice, and what I’m prepared to give up in its name, are really big ones and they have an impact on daily life in ways I overlooked before. I’ll really be searching my belief system when we start working on Lonesome Hollow – it’s that kind of show.

I’m a musical theatre geek, and catching Rex Harrison doing a song from My Fair Lady had extra resonance for me today, because I got to watch GBS fall in love involuntarily during Engaging Shaw. “Slings and Arrows” at Steve and Marjorie’s is more fun because I get to be in on the joke, and it makes me think of the season of Shaw we watched there.
My ears perk up when I hear mention of string quartets now, and I wonder if there is as much drama inherent in one as I saw during Opus. I’m enjoying seeking out quartet music, and thinking about dusting off my viola as a result. I like being consciously more aware of art as it intersects my life, and theatre reminds me to seek the experience.

Collaboration

OK, so…collaboration…the act of a bunch of people putting their two cents’ worth in. It’s messy. It’s not controlled. If someone else’s choice is the next best thing…that means we’re going into uncharted territory, especially when it’s directly contrary to where you thought you were going. You could do it. You could do it now and on the plus side it would immediately be done, AND maybe be perfect first time out of the box.

But that’s not what we’re doing here. We’re collaborating. So that means he says the wrong thing…she says it later…but we’re all working together to create something. And that something is more than what we’re doing individually. We’re making it together. It may take more time, or you wishing you could just push the button at the right time, but when we do it together, it’s more than just the fact that I did it.

And when people see it, they don’t know whether it’s because of my intervention or because of your brilliance…the end result is amazing. We did it. And for the average Joe on the street, we did it. It’s awesome, we wept. So, we need to take a minute. Do the calculations. Together, what came out of our collective baton is worth a huge 100% cotton handkerchief. We made something that we stopped and said, “I am moved. I am glad I am moved. This is theater and I was there.”