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Annual BRIEFS: A Festival of Short LGBTQ Plays Kicks Off This Weekend

Pearl Vodka in conjunction with That Uppity Theatre Company and Vital VOICE Magazine will present the fifth annual BRIEFS: A Festival of Short LGBTQ Plays. BRIEFS is a unique venture in St. Louis that brings together numerous directors and theatrical 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.

The playwrights include three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and five-time Emmy nominee James Still. Still's When Miss Lydia Hinkley Gives A Bird the Bird is the story about a thinly coded women's literary club set in 1859. Award-winning General Hospital writer Scott C. Sickles, will have his world premiere of his play I Knew It, inspired by a rumored relationship between Mick Jagger and David Bowie. We are excited for emerging playwright Stephen Peirick to direct his play titled A Comfortable Fit, about a shopping excursion between a transgender mother and daughter.

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 nation and includes such themes as the impact of the closet in the African-American gay community, the role of fantasy and science fiction in sexual identity formation, the challenges of LGBTQ residence in nursing homes and many more.

The fifth year of the festival will celebrate the second annual Ken Haller Playwriting Competition for LGBTQ and Allied Youth. The competition is named after pediatrician, performer, and longtime LGBTQ activist Ken Haller. The Haller competition will provide the winning playwright with a cash prize of $250 and their play will be staged at the BRIEFS festival. On opening night, Friday, April 8th, we will offer a post-show reception to honor Haller and recognize the Haller Award recipient, Max Friedman, for his play The Grind, as well as celebrate BRIEFS as one of the only festivals of short LGBTQ plays in the nation.

According to BRIEFS co-producer and artistic director Joan Lipkin, "We want to provide more opportunities for young writers. It's a wonderful way to honor Ken Haller, whose work has been so pivotal, on behalf of young people and LGBTQ rights. "

During its five-year history, BRIEFS has attracted many talented leading actors and directors from the St. Louis area. This year, we are happy to add two female African-American directors, Jacqueline Thompson and Fannie Lebby, to our roster of outstanding directors. Director Christopher Limber and dramaturg Gad Guterman will return to each direct one of the selected plays. BRIEFS founder and executive co-producer, Joan Lipkin, has planned an unusual curtain raiser to feature a different local celebrity or an up-and-coming leader at each performance, along with a flashmob.

"BRIEFS is very important because we are getting the opportunity to see LGBTQ stories though the medium of live theatre," says Vital VOICE CEO Darin Slyman, "Of course we read about these LGBTQ stories and of course hear about them, but rarely the opportunity to see them."

Looking at our selected plays and the diverse group of directors, playwrights, actors, and technicians, we are thrilled to present one of the best BRIEFS festivals yet! The selected works and directors of the plays are listed below:

Baby Black Jesus by Vincent Terrell Durham - Directed by Jacqueline Thompson
When Miss Lydia Hinkley Gives A Bird the Bird by James Still - Directed by Pamela Reckamp The Grind by Max Friedman - Directed by Gad Guterman
I Knew It by Scott C. Sickles - Directed by Matthew R. Kerns
When Oprah Says Goodbye by Dan Berkowitz - Directed by Fannie Lebby
Runaway by Charles Zito - Directed by Christopher Limber
A Comfortable Fit - Written and Directed by Stephen Peirick
The Adventures Of... by Kathleen Warnock - Directed by Ryan Scott Foizey

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