Bread and Roses Missouri and A Call to Conscience Interactive Theater for Social Change (C2C) are collaborating to present Social Justice Shorts.

Scheduled for May 17-19, 2024 at the Greenfinch Theatre & Dive, Social Justice Shorts is a one-act play festival featuring thought-provoking new narratives centered around themes such as racial equality, reproductive rights, poverty, gun violence, transgender rights, and more.

This dynamic event brings together 11 playwrights from across the country and features local St. Louis writers Joan Lipkin, Zahria Moore, Andy Perez, and M. Lucas Fleming.

“Bread & Roses and C2C believe in the power of storytelling to ignite change and amplify marginalized voices,” says Emily Kohring, Executive Director of Bread and Roses Missouri. “Social Justice Shorts provides a platform for playwrights to address pressing societal issues and inspire meaningful dialogue within our community.”

“C2C’s mission is to stir the conscience of our community and facilitate social change. The chosen plays facilitate a broad spectrum of viewpoints and foster discussions on significant societal matters that are in line with the company’s mission. Considering the present social and political climate, this festival presents an opportunity for the audience to actively engage and effect change.” says Fannie Lebby,

Rehearsal of social justice shorts. From left, Cheeraz Gormon, Alex Jay, and Jordan Braxton. 

“It serves as a rallying cry for individuals to unite, advocate or their interests, and work towards the betterment of their community!!! To quote Augusto Boal: ‘The theater itself is not revolutionary: it is a rehearsal for the revolution.’ ASHAE! ASHAE!!!”

Social Justice Shorts represents a continuation of both organization’s commitment to using the arts as a catalyst for social transformation. Through this festival, the organization aims to foster empathy, dialogue, and action on issues that affect us all.

Friday, May 17 at 7:30 pm & Saturday, May 18 at 4 p,m,
“The Pen” by Diana Burbano
“Eliminate the Backlog” by Rhea MacCullum
“Mizzou Made” by Zahria Moore
“Hotel Sterling” by Corey Pajka
“Clark & Howard” by Andy Perez

Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. & Sunday, May 19 at 4:00 p.m.
“Panic” by M. Lucas Fleming
“Jimmy was Eight” by Linda Lau and Rae Mansfield
“The Immaculate Contraception” by Jane M. Lee
“That Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art” by Joan Lipkin
“Neighbors by the Sea” by Emma Goldman Sherman
“The Tetons” by Christopher Woods


Bread and Roses Missouri emerged as a transformative force at the intersection of art and activism, rooted in the ethos of social justice and community empowerment. Originating as a project of Missouri Jobs with Justice (MO JwJ), Bread and Roses Missouri pioneered a platform for unity among community activists and union members through the medium of art. Led by visionary trailblazer Joan Suarez, Bread and Roses Missouri quickly evolved into an independent non-profit entity in 2015, charting a path toward deeper engagement with the community.

Under Suarez’s steadfast leadership, the organization spearheaded initiatives such as the Youth Initiative and the Workers’ Theater Project, including the groundbreaking Workers’ Opera. Today, Bread and Roses Missouri continues to champion the rights and dignity of working-class individuals and their families. With the recent addition of Executive Director Emily Kohring and Youth Programs Coordinator Luisa Otero Prada, the organization remains steadfast in its mission to celebrate the contributions of the working class and expand access to the arts among low to moderate – income audiences. Through its innovative programming and unwavering dedication
to social justice, Bread and Roses Missouri continues to have a steadfast commitment to leveraging the transformative power of arts and activism.


A Call to Conscience(C2C) is a 501©3 theater collective founded by a group of women graduates from the Community Arts Training program (CAT) sponsored by the Regional Arts Commission in St. Louis, Missouri. C2C’s Mission is to stir the conscience of our community and facilitate social change. The productions promote unity and create an accepting environment for healthy debate, self-expression, and collaboration not only for the cast but for the entire viewing community. Serving as a catalyst for activism within marginalized communities, the company presents challenging original works that engages audiences in thought-provoking conversations and an exchange of ideas regarding racism, police brutality, poverty, health disparity, and gender inequality. C2C believe in taking risks and inspiring people to participate in live theatre, regardless of personal means. The company celebrates the curiosity of our community, and we believe that theatre is an important tool to help build empathy, open the door to self-reflection, introspection, and give the viewing audience something to think and talk about long after leaving the theater. We also believe access to the arts should not be a matter of privilege, but the arts should be available and affordable to all. Most of the performances are held in venues partially supported by citizen’s tax dollars so that they can be offered free to the public.

Cover photo: Rehearsals for Social Justice Shorts. (L) Director Zahria Imani Moore and Stage Manager Maria L. Straub. Actors (L to R) Christina Rios, Jocelyn Padilla, and Alex Jay. 

By Lynn Venhaus
Stages St. Louis’ “In the Heights,” a jubilant celebration of culture, community, and connection, won six awards, including Outstanding Musical Production, Music Director, Choreography, Set Design, Costume Design (tie) and Ensemble in a Musical, at the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards Monday.

Their world premiere of “The Karate Kid – The Musical” won Outstanding Lighting Design for a total of seven, and Jack Lane, retired executive producer, announced the musical is Broadway-bound in 2024.

Seven is what The Black Repertory Theatre of St. Louis amassed for four productions: August Wilson’s “Jitney” (2 – Outstanding Production and Ensemble), “Behind the Sheet,” (2 – tie for Outstanding Production – Drama and Best Director), “The African Company Presents Richard III” (1 – Supporting Performer, Male or Non-Binary, Cameron Jamarr Davis) and “Dontrell, Who Was Kissed by the Sea” (2 – Lighting Design and Sound Design).

Brian McKnight accepted on behalf of The Black Rep and described founder Ron Himes as a man “who has vision.”

The Muny, SATE (Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble), and West End Players Guild each won four at the 10th Annual Theater Circle Awards, which recognized achievements in comedies, dramas, musicals and operas.

SATE’s original play “Bronte Sister House Party” won 4 (Best New Play, Outstanding Comedy Production, Comedy Ensemble and Supporting Performer Male or Non-Binary Role). “The Color Purple” at The Muny won 3 – Leading Performer, Female or Non-Binary in a Musical, Supporting Performer, Female or Non-Binary, and Costume Designer while Martin McDonagh’s “The Lonesome West” won 3 – Leading Performer, Male or Non-Binary, Supporting Performer, Female or Non-Binary, and Director Robert Ashton for the West End Players Guild.

For more than 10 years, the St. Louis Theater Circle has been presenting annual awards for regional professional theater, and resumed a live ceremony after virtual productions streamed by HEC Media online in 2020 and 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic, cancelling 2021 (but including a few of those productions last year).

It was the first live ceremony since 2019, and held at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’s Loretto-Hilton Center on Webster University’s campus.

Approximately 90 productions were considered for this year’s event. Three productions – “Chicago” at the Muny, “A Christmas Carol” at The Rep, and “Head Over Heels” at New Line Theatre — were ineligible because the same production was presented within the last three years at the respective venues.

The Circle presented more than 30 categories for outstanding achievements from 2022, with 20 theater companies receiving nominations.

Nationally recognized playwright, theater producer, and long-time advocate for the arts Joan Lipkin was honored with a special award for lifetime achievement.

Records that evening included Joel Moses winning two acting awards in one night and Jennifer Theby-Quinn won her third acting award, joining Will Bonfiglio and Laurie McConnell as three-time winners.

Luis Salgado, who made “In the Heights” ‘pop’ with his spirited direction and vibrant choreography, accepted awards while praising the theater community in St. Louis. He and actor Ryan Alvarado, a nominee for playing Usnavi, flew in from New York City to attend .

Here are the awards given out April 3:

Cameron Jamarr Davis “The African Company Presents Richard III” at the Black Rep

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Comedy, Female or Non-Binary Role: Hannah Geisz, “The Lonesome West,” West End Players Guild

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Comedy, Male or Non-Binary Role: Joel Moses, “Brontë Sister House Party,” SATE

Outstanding Performer in a Comedy, Female or Non-Binary Role: Molly Burris, “Dear Jack, Dear Louise,” New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Performer in a Comedy, Male or Non-Binary Role: Jason Meyers, “The Lonesome West,” West End Players Guild

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Play: Jasmine Williams, “Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Sound Design: Jackie Sharp, “Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Costume Design in a Play: Oona Natesan, “House of Joy,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Set Design in a Play (tie): Bess Moynihan, “Rodney’s Wife,” The Midnight Company and Josh Smith, “Much Ado About Nothing,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival

Winner Jason Meyers, at right “The Lonesome West”

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Drama, Female or Non-Binary Role: Rachel Tibbetts, “Rodney’s Wife,” The Midnight Company

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Drama, Male or Non-Binary Role: Cameron Jamarr Davis, “The African Company Presents Richard III,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Performer in a Drama, Female or Non-Binary Role: Jennifer Theby-Quinn, “Iphigenia in Splott,” Upstream Theater

Outstanding Performer in a Drama, Male or Non-Binary Role: Joel Moses, “The Christians,” West End Players Guild

Joel Moses, “The Christians” at West End Players Guild

Outstanding New Play: “Brontë Sister House Party,” by Courtney Bailey, SATE

Outstanding Achievement in Opera: (tie) Thomas Glass, “Harvey Milk,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Robert Mellon, “Falstaff,” Union Avenue Opera

Outstanding Production of an Opera: “A Little Night Music,” Union Avenue Opera

Outstanding Musical Director: Walter “Bobby” McCoy, “In the Heights,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Choreographer: Luis Salgado, “In the Heights,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Musical, Female or Non-Binary Role: Nicole Michelle Haskins, “The Color Purple,” The Muny

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Musical, Male or Non-Binary Role: Jeffrey Izquierdo-Malon, “Something Rotten!” New Line Theatre

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Musical: Bradley King, “The Karate Kid – The Musical,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Set Design in a Musical: Anna Louizos, “In the Heights,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Costume Design in a Musical: (tie) Samantha C. Jones, “The Color Purple,” The Muny and Brad Musgrove, “In the Heights,” Stages St. Louis

Anastacia McCleskey “The Color Purple” at The Muny

Outstanding Performer in a Musical, Female or Non-Binary Role: Anastacia McCleskey, “The Color Purple,” The Muny

Outstanding Performer in a Musical, Male or Non-Binary Role: Ben Davis, “Sweeney Todd,” The Muny

Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy: “Brontë Sister House Party,” SATE

Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama: “Jitney,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical: “In the Heights,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Director of a Comedy: Robert Ashton, “The Lonesome West,” West End Players Guild

Outstanding Director of a Drama: Ron Himes, “Behind the Sheet,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Director of a Musical: Bradley Rohlf, “Assassins,” Fly North Theatricals

“Bronte Sister House Party” won four Circle Awards

Outstanding Production of a Comedy: “Brontë Sister House Party,” SATE

Outstanding Production of a Drama: (tie) “Behind the Sheet,” The Black Rep and “Jitney,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Production of a Musical: “In the Heights,” Stages St. Louis

Special Award: Joan Lipkin, for lifetime achievement

The St. Louis Theater Circle was formed the summer of 2012 and began awarding excellence in regional professional theater in 2013. No touring, community theater or school productions are considered.

Current embers of the St. Louis Theater Circle include Steve Allen,; Mark Bretz, Ladue News; Bob Cohn, St. Louis Jewish Light; Tina Farmer, KDHX; Rob Levy,; Michelle Kenyon, and KDHX; Gerry Kowarsky, Two on the Aisle (HEC-TV); Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX; Judith Newmark,; Lynn Venhaus, and KTRS Radio; Bob Wilcox, Two on the Aisle (HEC-TV); and Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Eleanor Mullin, local actress and arts supporter, is group administrator.

The mood was extraordinary, and, in Joan Lipkin’s words, we could feel the “palpable joy” for each other. The speeches were heartfelt, and I wish we had them on record. It was truly “celebratory revelry.”

The Black Rep was a winner for four separate shows in the same year, an a back to back winner for August Wilson, as last year’s drama production was “Two Trains Running”)

We discovered we had two different Josh Smiths nominated — the one for Shakepeare’s Italian villa who won for “Much Ado About Nothing” was not the same for the carnival in “Ride the Cyclone.”

Happy the ‘tribe’ had so much fun — and the fellowship was really special. Hope the feedback continues to be positive.


“Jitney” Best Drama Production and Best Dramatic Ensemble

By Lynn Venhaus

Local Spotlight: The Wall

Truck Centers is sponsoring the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Memorial Wall in Troy, Ill.

It will be open to the public from Thursday, Oct. 20, at 5 p.m. (opening ceremony 5:45 p.m.) until Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m., on the grounds of the TCI Training Center.  It will be accessible 24 hours a day with online name locator resources, and a locator booth will be available daily between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The traveling wall is an 80% scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. It is 8′ tall, spans 360 ft. in length, and is the largest traveling tribute in the nation.

My friends in the Flagman’s Mission are placing American flags on the ground before the exhibit opens and will take them down Sunday. For more information or to volunteer, visit their Facebook page.

Joan Lipkin, 1989

On Stage: Reunion of first LGBTQ+ Theatre Performed in Missouri

One Night Only! Tonight from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum. It’s free.

Before there was Ellen or Will & Grace, there was “Some of My Best Friends Are,” the 1989 landmark production by Joan Lipkin and Tom Clear that was the first LGBTQ+ theatre done in Missouri.

It was also before marriage equality, the Missouri Sexual Misconduct Law was repealed or LGBTQ+ people could serve openly in the military. And in the midst of all this, the AIDS epidemic was raging.

Yet in the basement theatre of a United Church of Christ congregation, the St. Marcus on Russell, they put on a musical theatre revue that sold out every performance, attracted very diverse audiences and was voted Best Play of the Year by the Riverfront Times. By turns scathingly funny and poignant, it changed the cultural landscape in St Louis.

They will perform some of the original numbers and scenes. Members of the original cast expected to be on hand include Kate Durbin, Bill Ebbesmeyer, Terry Meddows, Steve Milloy, Mary Schnitzler, and Christy Simmons. Larry Pressgrove is music director, and Joan will emcee.

Happy Hour starts at 5:30 p.m. and the stage comes alive at 6:30 p.m., with songs, skits, and some reminiscing by both cast and audience.

Here’s a piece with Joan in St Louis Magazine:

Amy Schumer

TV: Inside Amy Schumer

Tonight is the Season 5 premiere of the comedian’s award-winning show (9 p.m. Comedy Central and Paramount +). There haven’t been new episodes since 2016. Tonight, Ellie Kemper, Olivia Munn and Jesse Williams are among the guest stars in this blend of sketch comedy,vignettes, stand-up and man-on-the-street interviews. Here’s the trailer:

Playlist: Day-O!

In 1955, Harry Belafonte recorded “Day-O” (Banana Boat Song). This Jamaican folk song became his signature song, and is an example of popular calypso music at the time. It hwas been covered many times, and is featured in a very funny sequence in Tim Burton’s movie “Beetlejuice.”

On This Day in St. Louis

Eighteen years ago today, Jimmy Edmonds hit that 12th inning home run to put the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series for the first time since 1987!

What a shot! What a game!

Of course, we were then swept by the Boston Red Sox. Getting that postseason monkey off their back. But after ’04 we had some very good years, including World Series championships in 2006 and 2011.


Word: HUAC

On this date in 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee began nine days of hearings into alleged Communist propaganda and influence in the Hollywood motion picture industry.

“In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me – and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Pastor Martin Niemoller, Dachau, 1944

In what is sure to be a highlight of the St Louis cultural season, That Uppity Theatre Company in collaboration with the Missouri History Museum will present a free musical reunion of Joan Lipkin and Tom Clear’s “Some of My Best Friends Are…”[SOMBFA] on Thursday Oct 20, 2022, from 6:30-8:00 pm. The event is part of the Missouri History Museum’s Thursday Nights at the Museum series and the organization’s Gateway to Pride Initiative which seeks to collect and preserve St. Louis’s LGBTQ+ history. The initiative includes a digital exhibit which launched in 2021, and a major special exhibit on LGBTQ+ history opening in June 2024.

Enjoy a happy-hour, resource tables and activities beginning at 5:30 pm. There will be many organizations with community tabling, including Metro Trans Umbrella Group, PFLAG, Black Pride, Pride St. Louis, SQSH, and TransParent, and there will be performances by CHARIS and the Black Tulip Chorale. Light appetizers and drinks will be available for purchase until 7:00 pm, and the Missouri History Museum’s exhibits are open until 8:00 pm.

 ““Some of My Best Friends Are…”is a notable part of St. Louis LGBTQ+ history, is included in our Gateway to Pride digital exhibit and will certainly be incorporated into our major special exhibit on LGBTQ+ history opening in 2024,” said Sharon Smith, Curator of Civic and Personal Identity for the Missouri Historical Society, which operates the Missouri History Museum. “The Missouri History Museum is delighted to host this special program reuniting much of the original cast and crew of this theatrical work which was the first of its kind in Missouri.”

Hailed groundbreaking in 1989 as the first piece of LGBTQ+ theatre ever done in Missouri, SOMBFA sold out every performance at the St Marcus Theatre in St Louis and was voted Best Play of the Year by the Riverfront Times Readers Poll. 

A collaboration between composer and lyricist Tom Clear and playwright, director and producer Joan Lipkin, and subtitled: A Musical Revue for People of All Preferences, SOMFBA chronicled the saga of Frank and Sheila, a heterosexual couple trying to make their way through a bigoted gay world. It also featured other sketches and lauded musical numbers. 

“A lot of us were young rural Missourians – from towns like Willard, Poplar Bluff, Cooter, and Potosi – living in Cape Girardeau in the fall of 1989 when we heard about a hip new gay musical revue called “Some of My Best Friends Are…”,” said Rodney Wilson, retired Mehlville High School history teacher, longtime advocate for LGBTQ+ students and teachers, and founder of LGBTQ+ History Month USA. “I wasn’t out to many in October 1989 and our two hour caravan to Joan Lipkin’s splendid (and now historic) “Some of My Best Friends Are…”was my first experience with live queer culture. I’ll never forget how comfortable and safe I felt to be in a theater of mostly LGBTQ folks watching a stage of stories – funny, provocative, and poignant – about people like me.”

The reunion will bring together most of the original cast including Kate Durbin, Bill Ebbesmeyer, Terry Meddows, Steve Milloy, Mary Schnitzler, Christy Simmons and Jonas Moses. Many have described their time with the show as foundational for their professional careers and personal lives. 

Music director Larry Pressgrove is coming in from New York to direct the reunion which Joan Lipkin will emcee.

““Some of My Best Friends Are…” figures significantly in my career,” said Pressgrove. “Prior to SOMBFA, I had been working as music director and arranger at St. Louis’ Metro Theatre Company. This was my first test to see if the process I had developed would work on a bigger project.”

“In addition, I had only been out of the closet a few years,” said Pressgrove. “This would be my first time working on openly gay material that directly spoke about my life. I borrowed some of Joan’s confidence and dove into the project. It was life changing for me. It really increased my pride in myself as a gay man and showed me that Gay people needed to have our stories told. SOMBFA remains one of the favorite projects of my career because it was so connected to me personally and meant so much to the people who saw it.”

Since his work with SOMBFA, Pressgrove has served as a music director, conductor and orchestrator on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and national tours. He has composed, arranged, and worked as a vocal coach and educator in numerous award-winning productions and programs.

The original production of “Some of My Best Friends Are…”  was also the site of political and community organizing and is credited with helping to overturn Missouri’s Sexual Misconduct Law. 

The museum event will offer audience members the chance to ask questions and share their own memories.

“For many of us, “Friends” remains one of our pivotal cultural and personal experiences, despite going on to do a lot of other interesting and productive work,” said Lipkin. “We are grateful to the museum and thrilled to come together in this free offering as a gift to the community and a reminder of what is possible in challenging times.”

This event is made possible in part by funding from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, AARP and the Missouri History Museum. 

With the climate crisis evincing ever more  concerns this summer, our Climate Change Theatre Action event on Saturday Oct 16 could not be more timely. 

Our free afternoon event will offer eight short internationally  commissioned plays in four art galleries, a theatrical adaptation of Greta Thuneberg’s address to the UN, a dance performance, outdoor resource tables by environmental organizations, voter registration, and more. 

That Uppity Theatre Company, Artistic director Joan Lipkin, in collaboration with Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA), a project of the Arctic Cycle will present a theatre and arts crawl on Saturday, Oct 16 from 1-4 pm at area art galleries in the Central West End.

The galleries include Duane Reed, Houska, Philip Slein, and Projects +, all located on McPherson Avenue in the historic CWE district.

“We are living in a time of increasing urgency to address critical climate change. It is no longer something that can be avoided or ignored. Regardless of our business, our occupations or personal situation, we are all in it together. Through our participation in the Climate Change Theatre Action, the gallery hopes to take part in a larger effort that is all about increasing our awareness of this crisis,” said Duane Reed, of the Duane Reed Gallery.

Viewers will be able to see a short play or two of under ten minutes before proceeding to the next gallery to see others. The event will feature 4-8 short pieces. Most performances will be repeated 6-8 times or approximately every twenty minutes, starting at 1 pm. Some work may also be performed outside.

Indoor performances will be limited to ten audience members at a time and masking will be required.

Many St Louis theatre artists are involved in presenting this project including Anna Blair, Donna Weinsting, Dan Kelly, Teresa Doggett, Susan Volkan, Michael Paplanus, Don McClendon, Carrie Hegdahl, Alice Kinsella, and Rachel Mitchell, among others.

The Central Visual & Performing Arts High School will also present a theatrical adaptation of Greta Thunberg’s speech to the United Nations called” How Dare You”. Ashleyliane Dance Company will offer selections from their critically acclaimed “Environmental
Intelligence” dance piece.

Additionally, there will be outdoors tabling by environmental groups including Great Rivers Greenway, US Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Project Animal Freedom, World Bird Sanctuary, Metropolitan Congregations United, Earth Dance Organic Farm School, St Louis Voter Registration Group and more. Street parking is available as well as a paid lot on Euclid Ave between Washington and McPherson Ave.

“The issues facing us are real but so are the opportunities to change the direction of this global crisis,” said Joan Lipkin. “The arts are a pathway to illuminate the issues in an engaging way and also to promote hope, joy and engagement. It is both meaningful and important that St Louis take part in this international arts and ecology movement.”

Produced by Joan Lipkin and Pamela Reckamp, the St Louis event is part of a worldwide series of readings and performances of short plays about the climate crisis and environmental justice. CCTA 2021 will take place from September 19 to December 18 to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26).

The last iteration of CCTA, in 2019, included over 220 events in nearly 25 countries. For more details, the list of participating playwrights, and previous collaborators, see

Missouri Faith & Voter Advocates Host Vigils Honoring Legacy of John Lewis and Calling on Congress to Affirm the Moral Imperative of the Right to Vote 

On Sat. July 17, 2021, Missouri advocates will host Good Trouble Vigils for Democracy on the one-year anniversary of the death of Rep. John Lewis – joining more than 100 similar vigils happening at the same time around the country – to uplift his legacy and call on Congress to pass critical legislation to realize Rep. Lewis’ vision for a democracy that includes us all. The Missouri Vigils are being spearheaded by faith leaders around the state to uplift the moral imperative of the right to vote in a moment when partisanship is blocking needed action to protect voting rights for all. 

The Missouri John Lewis “Good Trouble” Vigils For Democracy, organized by the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition in collaboration with numerous faith leaders and community partners, will be held in St. LouisKansas CityJefferson City and Springfield on the evening of Sat. July 17.
The St. Louis event will include prominent faith leaders in an outdoor vigil at First Unitarian Church followed by a processional with the renowned Red and Black Brass Band to Maryland Plaza in the Central West End, where advocates will sing, dance and engage fellow community members in the call for voting rights. Vigils in Kansas CityJefferson City and Springfield, lead by faith leaders, local voter advocates and the NAACP, will similarly feature local leaders calling on Congress to take needed action to protect the right to vote by passing the For the People Act – which the late Cong. Lewis authored – and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 
“Faith leaders have been critical to every historic movement for voting rights and are especially needed in this moment to call out the dignity of all to have a voice in their destinies,” said Denise Lieberman, a voting rights lawyer and Director of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition. The July 17 actions come on the heels of this week’s call to action by the President for Congress to pass needed voting reforms. 

WHO:    Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Central Reform Congregation, Missouri Faith Voices, Metropolitan Congregations United, First Unitarian Church, Missouri Baptist State Convention, Dance the Vote, St. Louis Area Voting Initiative, Missouri Jobs with Justice, St. Louis Voter Protection Coalition, NAACP, Missouri State Baptist Convention, Indivisible Missouri, Congregation Shaare Emeth and others – including remarks from: Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, Missouri Faith Voices; Rev. Dr. Linden Bowie, Missouri Baptist State Convention; Rabbi Susan Talve, Central Reform Congregation; Rev. Kim Mason, First Unitarian Christian Church; Denise Lieberman, Director of Missouri Voter Protection Coalition; Joan Lipkin, Dance The Vote, among others. 
WHEN:  Sat. July 17, 2021,  6-8pm
WHERE:  6-7pm Vigil with Speakers at First Unitarian Christian Church 5007 Waterman Blvd. , St. Louis, MO 63108,  followed by processional with Red and Black Brass Band to Maryland Plaza. Event will be broadcast live at:

Missouri July 17 John Lewis “Good Trouble” Vigil For Democracy Events include

St. Louis Vigil for Democracy
6-8 p.m. Vigil: First Unitarian Church5007 Waterman Blvd., St. Louis MO 63108Followed by processional to Maryland Plaza with Red and Black Brass Band

Kansas City Vigil for Democracy
6-6:45pm 3708 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd. (Cleaver Blvd and Cleveland)Spirit of Freedom Fountain Kansas City, MO 64130

Springfield MO Vigil For Democracy
6:30-8p.m.First Unitarian Universalist Church of Springfield2434 E. Battlefield Rd. Springfield, MO 65084

Jefferson City Vigil for Democracy
8-8:30 p.m. Missouri Veterans Memorial at Missouri Capitol201 W. Capitol AveJefferson City, MO 65101

Because there have been a historic number of anti-voting bills recently introduced at the state level and in some states, passed into law, groups throughout the U.S. are participating in various activities called ‘Deadline for Democracy’ in the next two weeks in support of the For the People Act, now under consideration in Congress, and preserving voting rights.

Missouri has some of the worst voter suppression in the country. 

. A rally downtown St. Louis will take place on Thursday, July 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. in Kiener Plaza Park, which will feature remarks from Missouri State Rep. Peter Merideth, Dr. Sara Kenzior, Wesley Bell, Denise Lieberman, among others. There will be an ASL interpreter for all speakers.

The rally will open with a community dance led by Ashley L. Tate and Thomas Proctor of Ashleyliane Dance Company called ‘Dancing for Democracy’ for Dance the Vote.

With eight out of ten Americans supporting more access to voting, regardless of party affiliations, Dance the Vote, a non-partisan voting advocacy group, will join with over 30 groups nationwide in the Deadline for Democracy grassroots effort.

In St. Louis, the event is sponsored by the Indivisible Missouri Coalition — includes Indivisible St. Louis, Indivisible Pulaski County, Indivisible Heart of The Ozarks, Indivisible Take Action Now, Indivisible SEMO, Indivisible We Will Persist, Small Deeds Done, Dance The Vote, Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, and Ashleyliane Dance Company.

At the state level, there have been 389 bills introduced in 48 states that would restrict a person’s voting access as of May 14, 2021 according to the Brennan Center.

From 6-6:20 pm, DTV will offer a free community dance class called “Dancing for Democracy” led by Ashley L Tate and Thomas Proctor of Ashleyliane Dance Company featuring favorites like the Electric Slide, the Wobble, the Cupid Shuffle and more. Everyone is welcome, regardless of age or dance experience.

This will be followed by several confirmed speakers:  authoritarian scholar, writer and anthropologist Dr Sarah Kendzior, Attorney Denise Lieberman of the non-partisan state wide organization Missouri Voter Protection Coalition and St Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell.  Additional speakers may be added.

Postcards will be available for signing and the St Louis Voter Registration Group will be registering people to vote.

“Missouri has some of the most restrictive legislation in the country, blocking access to our most fundamental democratic right,” said Joan Lipkin, the founder of Dance the Vote. “The For the People Act would end gerrymandering, allow universal access to vote by mail, expand early voting requirements, restore the right to vote for people with felony convictions who have served their time, modernize voter registration systems and institute automatic voter registration. It is essential that it be passed.”

Who:      Dance the Vote, Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Indivisible St Louis

What:     Deadline for Democracy: Rally for S1 For The People Act

Date:      Thursday, July 1

Where:   Kiener Plaza Park

                500 Chestnut St.

                St. Louis, MO 63101

Time:     6-8 PM CDT

Details:   Further Details and RSVP can be found here:                                                                

About Dance the Vote:

Dance the Vote is a non-partisan project that uses the arts to promote voter awareness and registration. Founded in 2016 by theatre artist and activist Joan Lipkin in collaboration with activist designer Anne Taussig, voter registration specialist Sabrina Tyuse and choreographer Ashley L. Tate, DTV raises public awareness by utilizing dance, video, graphics, music and spoken word.

Programming is based on various themes of the voting experience, including the experiences of African-Americans, women, people with disabilities, college students and immigrants around voting, voting rights, voter suppression, among other themes.  This project brings together local as well as artists nationwide who creatively seek to make a difference by promoting voter awareness and getting eligible voters registered and committed to vote.

In 2016, the project was presented at Vintage Vinyl, St, Louis Black Pride and Left Bank Books, and the 2018 midterm performance at the Missouri History Museum attracted an audience of 1200. The 2020 season was virtual due to Covid-19, with 10 episodes of commissioned pieces from artists around the country, and also included participation in Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy, the national special on voting produced by CBS and Global Citizen. Dance the Vote also collaborated with Webster University to sponsor a contest for college students using a variety of arts media called “Make Good Trouble: Why John Lewis Inspires Me To Vote’’ for which they awarded cash prizes.

Dance the Vote has received several awards, including an IDEA Award for commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility, a 2021 FOCUS What’s Right With the Region Award for Fostering Creativity for Social Change, an award in the 2021 St. Louis Magazine A List for Moving Democracy, and both a mayoral and aldermanic proclamation declaring Dance The Vote Voter Registration Day in the city of St. Louis.

For more info, contact or see

About Ashleyliane Dance Company:

Ashleyliane Dance Company (ADC) is a professional performance organization under the artistic direction of Ashley L. Tate, with a mission to cultivate diverse repertory, create safe educational spaces, and a vision to promote the intersection of dance and social issues.

Since its inception in 2007, ADC has performed at a plethora of major events and private engagements, including but not limited to: the Muny, Fair St. Louis, First Night, Loop in Motion, Dancing in the Street, Casino Queen, Four Seasons Hotel and The

Pageant. ADC has been featured on Fox 2 News,”Best of the STL” on STL TV, Show Me St. Louis, HEC-TV, and the Nine Network and in Alive Magazine and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The company has produced a number of dance concerts at the Center of Creative Arts (COCA), Ivory Theatre, and Missouri History Museum, Edison Theatre, and The Grandel.  They have also been invited to perform at the Dance Chicago Festival, the American College Dance Association Convention, the University of Illinois-Chicago, the Chicago Choreographers’ Carnival, Peridance Capezio Center, TADA! Theater, and Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City, as well as the 18th St. Arts Center in Santa Monica, California and Gordon Gamm Theater in Boulder, Colorado. 

ADC is a proud resident organization of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation.

About Indivisible:

Indivisible is a movement driven by a vision of a real democracy of, by, and for the people. The Indivisible movement is a network of thousands of local groups and millions of activists across every state working to build an inclusive democracy by fighting for bold, progressive policies and creating lasting grassroots power. 

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Indivisible St. Louis is a grassroots group dedicated to the pursuit of justice, equity, and progress for all. They are a registered chapter of Indivisible ( committed to promoting, encouraging, and facilitating constituent contact with members of Congress to help move a progressive agenda forward.

In their first collaboration, That Uppity Theatre Company and Alight Theater Guild will co-produce NYC Queer Playback Theater with “Pride in Progress” on Sunday, June 13, at 7 p.m. CDT/8 p.m. EDT in a virtual interactive playback performance to honor Pride. This event is open to all ages and orientations and will run approximately 90 minutes, and is sponsored by St Louis Pride, St Louis Black Pride, #Boom Magazine and the Missouri Arts Council.

During the performance the audience will be invited to tell stories from their lives, then the story will be “played back” with facilitation, improvisational forms, and music by an ensemble, all around the theme of “Pride in Progress.” As we reflect on Pride in the midst of a pandemic and a racial reckoning, “Pride in Progress” hopes to ask what we are proud of individually and collectively, and what
progress is left to be gained?
“I am thrilled to be partnering with NYC Queer Playback to share their stories and that of our communities in a live event. Although we may miss gathering in more traditional physical spaces, virtual events like this provide more access for both artists and
audiences,“ said Joan Lipkin, the producing artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company and Playback Now! St Louis. “NYC Queer Playback is one of the only LGBTQ+ specific playback companies in the US, and ideally suited to help explore our theme of Pride in Progress.”

NYC Queer Playback Theater aims to forge connection in the LGBTQ+ communities, whether participants identify within the community or as an ally, by creating a safe and diverse space for personal growth through Playback. Co-founder Jamie Roach said he
is excited to collaborate. 

“The LGBTQ+ community is hugely diverse, which is one of its biggest assets,” he said. “Playback allows its participants to reach across differences of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, age, country of origin, language, and ability/disability by providing a rare and rich chance to be vulnerable with each other’s stories while learning the true feelings and experiences of this dynamic community. As the many perspectives and identities are better understood, the ever-evolving Queer community is strengthened.”

For tickets, please register at:, and an event zoom link will be sent out on the day of the performance.

Tickets are priced at $12, with a pay-what-you-like option, including a free ticket choice. We invite all people, those from the LGBTQ+ community and allies, to reflect on our lives within our community, our nation and globally in the space that we are creating to
encourage openness, acceptance, respect, and equality regardless of one’s gender identity, sexual orientation, body size, ability, or status. Personal sharing is encouraged and entirely voluntary. Feel free to tell a story or to enjoy the stories of others.

About Playback
Practiced in over 60 countries, Playback Theatre is an original form of improvisational theater developed by Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas in which audience or group members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot. Used in a variety of settings, Playback Theater provides highly enjoyable theater and promotes dialogue between different voices as audience members have the opportunity to speak and see their stories embodied on the stage. We discover who we are by telling our stories and,
as others bear witness and tell their own stories in response, a deep and empathy- building conversation is created through the collective stories brought to the stage.

About Playback Now! St Louis
Founded and directed by Joan Lipkin, Playback Now! St. Louis creates work based on the highly developed improvisational principles established by Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas that are practiced in over 60 countries to assist in individual storytelling for collective well-being.

The ensemble has performed at the Missouri History Museum, Monsanto, Webster University, Grand Center, the Monocle, Boeing, Edward Jones, St Louis Zoo, Missouri Botanical Garden, the Theater Communications Group Conference, the Grand Center Theatre Crawl and more as well as private settings.

About NYC Queer Playback
Founded in 2016, NYC Queer Playback Theater serves the LGBTQ+ community through open, monthly rehearsals, and since 2020, as a performing, Core Ensemble. Founded by Rick Sanford and Jamie Roach, under the mentorship of Mountaine Jonas,
NYC QPT values creating a safe and brave space for belonging and sharing stories about the layers and intersections within the Queer community. They’ve performed in NYC with SAGE (LGBTQ+ Elders) and in collaboration with Village Playback Theater, and have now found a strong connection through virtual programming. They are excited and grateful to collaborate with Playback Now! St. Louis.

Joan Lipkin

About Joan Lipkin

  1. She was commissioned by Luna Stage to write a piece about getting vaccinated. This is available online at
  1.  She is dramaturging and writing the script for “Environmental Injustice”, a dance concert by Ashleyliane Dance Company that will also feature the story of Hazel Johnson, the mother of environmental justice. Joan has written the text about Hazel Johnson. This is a  hybrid performance event with two optional parts:  Program A on Saturday, June 5 is taped and virtual. Program B on Sunday, June 6 is a live event at the Grandel Theatre in Grand Center with different material and also includes the piece about Hazel Johnson.
  1. 3. She is contributing to the script for A Call 2 Conscience’s “Celebration of Survival” featuring the real-life stories of St Louisans around COVID and the pandemic that is scheduled for live presentation Aug. 28-29.

Dance the Vote, a St. Louis based arts and civic engagement initiative, founded by theatre artist and activist Joan Lipkin four years ago will be featured in an upcoming program, Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy, a nationally televised event on Thursday, Oct 29, at 8pm Central on CBS and other platforms.

Following their first performance outside Vintage Vinyl, an iconic record store in St. Louis for a few dozen people on a rainy afternoon, Dance the Vote attracted over one thousand people at the midterms at the Missouri History Museum for a community dance class, performances by diverse dance companies, spoken word artists and singers about the history and importance of voting, paired with voter registration.

When the pandemic hit and following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, they pivoted to commission and center dance videos, predominantly by choreographers of color. The themes continue to be about the history and significance of voting, as well as what issues might compel someone to vote including: climate change, racial justice, disability, incarceration, gender equity, women’s suffrage, the wall, and more.

The pieces were released in a series of weekly episodes in pairs of two or three dances, and each episode included information on how to register to vote, check voter registration, and the phone number for the election protection hotline for questions or issues at the polls.

The pieces may be seen on YouTube, Instagram (@dancethevotestl), Facebook (@DanceTheVoteStl), Twitter (@DanceTheVoteStl), and Vimeo as well as their website

This summer, Dance the Vote and Webster University partnered to offer a competition for college students throughout the United States honoring the late congressman John Lewis, called Make Good Trouble: Why John Lewis Inspires Me to Vote. Cash awards have been issued in several categories including mixed media, video, dance pieces, painting, collage, and photo essay.

Joan Lipkin

“We are honored to be included in this exciting program about voting because it recognizes the essential role that the performing arts can play in voter education and advocacy. In addition, Dance the Vote exemplifies how a small grass-roots organization with a promising idea can offer a model for the arts and civic engagement for many communities. We are pleased to have St. Louis showcased on this important national platform,” said Joan Lipkin, founder of Dance the Vote.

Every Vote Counts is a celebration of civic engagement and one last push to get people to vote.

Hosted by Alicia Keys, America Ferrera, and Kerry Washington, with appearances by Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Cobie Smulders, Coldplay, Condoleezza Rice, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, John Kasich, Kelly Clarkson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Natalie Portman, Shaquille O’Neal, Tan France, Wilmer Valderrama, and more, with performances by Alicia Keys, Dan + Shay, Offset, and Shawn Mendes.

Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy, a nationally televised and streamed event, will air on the CBS Television Network and will be streamed via CBS All Access on Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 9 PM, ET/PT, 8PM CST. The special will also be available via the following platforms: iHeartMedia radio stations and app, Apple Music, Apple TV App, Amazon Music, Twitch, NowThis, YouTube, Twitter, TIDAL and Facebook, with more to be announced.

On Dec. 13, 2019 at the Mark Wilson Theatre on the campus of St. Louis University, Playhouse Emissions: Climate Change Theatre Action St. Louis 2019 was presented as part of the international Climate Change Theatre Action 2019.

The St. Louis event follows the growing tradition of rapid response from theatre artists for collective action on some of the most pressing issues of our time, including gun violence and extrajudicial violence against people of color. 

There is a growing movement within the global theatre community: a succession of artwork-cum-advocacy events, collections of short plays, crafted with an urgent deadline and for immediate performance, in an effort to address some of the most critical sociopolitical issues of our time. After an initial production, these play collections often circulate for years, becoming part of the theatrical and activist zeitgeist, and often a movement unto itself. Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA) is one such movement.

CCTA is a worldwide series of readings and performances of short plays on climate change, primarily presented to coincide with the United Nations COP 25 meeting. 

Produced by Joan Lipkin, and directed by Thomas Martin, Anna Blair, Alex Knapp, Playhouse Emissions featured a sampling of the CCTA international collection of short plays inspired by climate change and the science surrounding it. In 2019, close to 250 events were hosted in 25 countries, reaching an audience of 10,000 through live performance and an additional 10,000 via live streams and radio broadcasts.

“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing us as a global community,” said Joan Lipkin, Producing Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company, and one of 2019’s commissioned playwrights. “Scientists estimate that we have 15 years to decarbonize the economy if we want to stave off the worst impacts of climate change that will affect all of us.”

The plays were selected from two anthologies that were commissioned by the CCTA organization. 50 playwrights were chosen from over 25 countries, from industrialized and developing countries and urban and rural areas. These perspectives include low-lying nations threatened by sea level change and countries facing severe heat waves, floods, droughts, deforestation and/or biodiversity collapse. 

Lipkin and Knapp co-hosted the event, which featured performances from leading actors in St. Louis, including Dan Kelly, Michelle Dillard, Don McClendon, and Anna Blair, as well as students from St. Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis. The performance opened with a drum performance by World Vibrations, led by Lisa Frumhoff and concluded with a question and answer segment with David Brotherton, the Program Director for Business and the Environment at the University of California – Berkley.

Plays selected for Playhouse Emissions included Single Use by Marcia Johnson, Brackendale by Elaine Ávila, About That Chocolate Bar by Joan Lipkin, Six Polar Bears Fell from the Sky This Morning by Alister Emerson, El Toro Sagrado In the Car Repair Shop by Mindi Dickstein, and Homo Sapiens by Chantal Bilodeau.

“Among the short plays was a dramatic, interpretive reading of Greta Thunberg’s UN address on Climate Change. I was deeply moved by the re-enactment and inspired by how theatre arts keep the most compelling issues of our time alive,” said audience member Anne Taussig. Thunberg’s remarks were adapted by Lipkin and Knapp, a second-year master’s student in Theatre and Performance at Washington University in St. Louis, with music by Mitchell Manar. “The most important thing we can do is inform ourselves and understand the situation,” according to Greta Thunberg, the 16-year old climate activist. 

“As a scholar and artist, I care deeply about education and access, especially regarding the most pressing concerns to life on this earth. I find performance to be an excellent venue for bringing these issues to the fore, sparking a dialogue within communities, and providing equitable access to education on these topics,” says Knapp.

“Saint Louis University is dedicated to providing the vehicle through which students and the general public can learn the facts about climate change using a variety of platforms including academics, public programs, and the arts. We are pleased to support this creative use of the arts in the service of both the humanities and climate change awareness,” said Dr. Jack Fishman, a Professor of Meteorology in the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and director of their Center for Environmental Sciences.

About Climate Change Theatre Action:

A collaboration between the Center for Sustainable Practice in the ArtsNoPassport Theatre AllianceThe Arctic CycleTheatre Without Borders, and York University, CCTA is a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented to coincide with the United Nations COP25.

Following the model pioneered by NoPassport, the organizers asked fifty writers from around the world to write short plays about an aspect of climate change. These plays were made available to producing collaborators who have presented over 100 events so far this season. Collaborators can choose as few or as many of the plays as they want.

Events range from readings in classrooms to fully staged performances and will take place in theatres, high schools, universities, eco-centers, community centers, on radio, and outdoors.

For the full list of events and participating playwrights:

Events can also be followed via their Facebook Page.