At a time when both LGBTQ rights, freedom of expression and funding for the arts hangs in the balance, the sixth annual Briefs: A Festival of Short LGBTQ Plays is more relevant than ever. The festival runs March 9-11 at the .ZACK Performing Arts Incubator in Grand Center.

Presented by Pearl Vodka and co-produced by That Uppity Theatre Company and Vital VOICE Magazine, Briefs is a unique showcase in St. Louis that brings together numerous directors and theatre artists to showcase the work of eight different playwrights all under one roof. Briefs presents theatrical work that address the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning people. The festival is targeted to a diverse and mature audience that appreciates good theatre in unique settings.

Breaking Bounds

Founded by Joan Lipkin, this year’s Briefs festival continues to provide stories of the LGBTQ community a platform on which to speak. LGBTQ stories are human stories. Many times, our society fails to provide adequate representation in the theatre and in our day-to-day lives, especially regarding lesbians or transgender people. Briefs allows individuals to not simply sit and watch eight short plays, but to make an event of it. Darin Slyman of the Vital VOICE says he hopes to encourage audiences to continue to open to new experiences beyond Briefs. His co-producer Joan Lipkin agreed.

“We’re all responsible to create the community in which we want to live. Briefs is for everyone and we want everyone to feel welcome,” Lipkin says.

With the final year of Briefs, That Uppity Theatre Company and Vital Voice Magazine are leaving their mark on St. Louis as a dynamic duo. Throughout the past six years, Briefs has produced 50 short LGBTQ plays, many of which have been world premieres, amassing and supporting a significant body of dramatic literature.

Play Descriptions

Each of the eight plays run about 10 minutes or less and include a variety of comedic and serious themes and genres. This year’s collection of eight plays has been selected from over 250 submissions across the country and includes such themes as the care-taking of elderly family members by gay persons, the stress a lesbian couple experiences given varying responses to the Pulse massacre, the impact on family dynamics following a member’s official adoption of a transgender identity, the closing of a bar that was a foundational safe haven for gay community members, and more.

During its six-year history, Briefs has attracted many talented leading actors and directors from the St. Louis area. This year, it will feature three local, female writers, Shannon Grier, Joan Lipkin, and Theresa Masters with their respective works titled Twenty Questions, Our Friends, and Danny Boy.

Dan Berkowtiz’s When Oprah Says Goodbye is back by popular demand with the original principle cast directed by Fannie Lebby as a presentation of diversity and aging in the LGBTQ community.

The sixth year of the festival will celebrate the third annual Ken Haller Playwriting Competition for LGBTQ and Allied Youth competition launched by Lipkin. The competition is named after pediatrician, performer, and longtime LGBTQ activist Ken Haller. The Haller competition provides the winning playwright with a cash prize and their play is staged at the Briefs Festival. This year’s recipient is Webster University student, McKenzie Moser, and her work Trial and Swear.

Event Schedule

  • Thursday, March 9, 2017 – 8 p.m.
  • Friday, March 10, 2017 – 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 11, 2017 – 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

To purchase tickets please go to metrotix.com/briefs or visit the Facebook event page to learn more information and view posts introducing our actors, directors, playwrights and crew.

Art and freedom of expression is essential for the survival and well being of various communities including LGBTQ and allied people. That Uppity Theatre Company and Vital VOICE hope that you will support the LGBTQ community and the final Briefs festival. V

by Annie Dent