Before the annual stroll around The Galleria in search of holiday gifts both selective and silly, it’s time to contemplate what occurred on local stages in the past 12 months.
Story: It’s another deadly dull day for Angela and Stu. The couple, who’ve been married for some 20 years, aren’t nearly as passionate as they were when they met in high school, at least not Angela. She’s grown weary of their threadbare existence and the livelihood that depends on their moribund convenience store.
Story: Bo lives a quiet but adventurous life with her parents in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in New Mexico. The “Land of Enchantment,” however, can be challenging for the home-schooled Bo, who yearns for amenities such as indoor plumbing and modern communication devices.
Story: Meena is feeling unfulfilled in her job as managing editor for piggeries at American Cattle & Swine magazine, oddly enough. After all, she once wrote a book of “prose poetry” that was even published and reviewed. The lone critique was unflattering, and the book didn’t sell many copies, but still she did it.
Story: Two one-act plays bridged by a common theme and title, Lovers takes place in small-town Ireland in the mid-1960s. The first vignette, Winners, pertains to a pair of 17-year-olds, Joseph Michael Brennan and Margaret Mary Enright. Joe has gotten Maggie into the family way, which necessitates a hasty marriage at the end of the school year three weeks hence.
Story: The Lazara Quartet is a classical music group of considerable talent and acclaim, so much so that in the past year they have been the subject of a documentary. Now, their noted achievements in recordings and in performances around the world have caught the attention of The White House, where they have been asked to perform for the President in a televised concert.
All of a sudden it’s nearing the end of December and thoughts of New Year’s resolutions dance in our heads. Before we enter 2014, however, let’s reflect on what the past year has given us on local stages.
Story: Sgt. Dale “D.J.” Jackson, a black soldier from Detroit, returns home in 1968 with a Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to him for service “above and beyond the call of duty.” President Lyndon B. Johnson himself proclaims the distinction in a ceremony celebrating the soldier. Jackson receives the medal for single-handedly killing more than a dozen enemy soldiers after his unit was slaughtered, with just one survivor: Jackson.
Story: Mr. Roote is in a muddled condition as he sits in his office on Christmas Day. He is the administrator at a government-run institution that is referred to alternately as a rest home or a sanitarium, although it definitely seems to be more the latter.
Story: In the innocuous-looking hamlet of Lonesome Hollow, residents are free to wander throughout the town, conversing with one another as they go. They are not, however, permitted to leave the village, because they are sex offenders in the “soonish” future, permanently segregated from the rest of society.
Way back in the days when I was a lad, Labor Day marked the beginning of the school year. Now, of course, school districts and universities get their fall semesters underway a couple of weeks earlier.
Story: Complicated Lives is comprised of four short, one-act plays by local playwright and actor Stephen Peirick.
Story: The Lazara String Quartet has a history as a brilliant classical music ensemble. The four members of the group have achieved world fame and won numerous awards. Now they are on the verge of their biggest triumph: A command performance at The White House that will be nationally televised and seen by 15 million people.
DATE AND LOCATION CHANGED, CATERER ADDED FOR INAUGURAL ST. LOUIS THEATER CIRCLE AWARDS
Story: George Bernard Shaw is a force to be reckoned with in late 19th century London; you need only ask him for verification. The vain scribe, confident of his own intellectual superiority, is a firebrand in the Fabian Society, a group dedicated to the transformation of society with improved social conditions for all. Shaw meets regularly with his close friends Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb to advance their common cause.
Performances by local professional theater companies, ranging in size from The Muny and its productions in the 11,000-seat Forest Park amphitheater to small companies performing in modest spaces throughout the area, will be recognized at the inaugural Louie Awards.
The year 2012 was tumultuous in many respects, so perhaps fittingly Wicked is the title of the production that brings down the curtain on the last 12 months. A record drought plagued the St. Louis area, temperatures sweltered in an elongated summer and the area’s economy staggered toward a slow but steady recovery. All of this took place in the face of impending doom predicted centuries ago by the Mayan calendar.
Undoubtedly, everything is faster paced now than in the ‘good old days,’ whenever those days may have been. Still, there’s no reason to automatically equate modern technology with rudeness, a self-centered attitude and a lack of common courtesy and grace.
Story: Lorraine is out of prison for the first time in 12 years. She’s served her sentence and now is free to get on with living. Trouble is, she has no life on the outside. She’s a stranger to her adult son, whom she gave up for adoption, and she has no trade with which to earn a living. Unemployed and unwanted, she shows up on the doorstep of her cell mate Marie, who was released a while before her.
Story: An angry young artist sits in a dingy studio in a dilapidated warehouse. He seems miserable with his artistic output and a caliber that he finds unsatisfying. His day is made increasingly more complicated, though, when he is visited by an art authenticator of his acquaintance. Mr. Bouchard informs the artist, Patrick Stone, that he wants to commission Stone to create a forgery of Vincent van Gogh’s final self-portrait, a mythical masterpiece that long has been rumored was created by the tortured artist shortly before his death in 1890.
Story: King Berenger the 1st is running out of time. After hundreds of years of iron-clad rule over his kingdom, including Mother Nature herself, his majesty is informed by the palace physician that he is going to die by the end of this two-act play. The doctor is almost giddy about the news, and why not? The countryside is in decay, the castle is in ruins and the population has shrunk from the hundreds of millions to about a thousand, according to Queen Marguerite, the king’s first wife.
Dubliner Sharky has hit a rough patch at Christmas. He's lost his job as a chauffeur to a well-to-do couple, plus he's taken in his wastrel brother Richard, who was blinded in an accident on Halloween.
The year 2011 yielded an abundance of significant news in local theater. Eleven presentations stood out above the rest. In ascending order, here’s a list of the year’s best productions:
Story: That green-eyed beauty, envy, has consumed young Will Shakespeare as he struggles to make a mark in Elizabethan London. In the year 1593 Will is chafing in his marriage to the strong-willed and unromantic Anne Hathaway, several years his senior and mother of his children. She chides him for not being able to support the family and says she and the kids are moving back to Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare thinks if only he can get beyond the shadow of Christopher “Kit” Marlowe, the titan of literature of the era, he can succeed.