The LaBute New Theater Festival Scores Again At St. Louis Actors’ Studio


Bridgette Bassa and Jenny Smith in “Life Model” by Neil LaBute at St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Photo: Patrick Huber

Four weeks in the summer we get exciting new theatre at the LaBute Festival hosted by St. Louis Actors’ Studio. This year is no less inspiring, kooky and delightful as young playwrights from around the country submit scripts that are dwindled down to six or so plays to be presented in tandem with a new one-act written by Neil LaBute to open each evening.


Emily Baker in “Show Of Affection” at the LaBute New Theater Festival at STLAS. Photo: Patrick Huber

The first set, running for two weeks featured Mr. LaBute’s “Life Model” which poses several layers of questions about what art is, the validity of said art and how different people are affected by art- by creating it, posing for it or critiquing it. Directed by John Pierson, it features Bridgette Bassa and Jenny Smith. Then Jeff Carter’s “Fire Sans Matches” is a take on a family outing that leads unexpectedly to the end of the world (have to see it to believe it!). Again directed by Mr. Pierson, it stars Emily Baker, Eric Dean White and Jeremy Pinson.

James Haigney’s “Winter Break” takes on modern problems that would have seemed routine only several years ago without the threat of terrorism. Michael Hogan directs this intense production featuring Jenny Smith, Leerin Campbell and Ryan Foisey. Finally, “Mark My Worms” by Cary Pepper is a delightful play that plays with words as a late playwright has left a script with typos that the director insists be played as written. Mr. Hogan once again directs with excellent work with the absurd and clever script by Emily Baker, Eric Dean White and David Wassilak as the supercilious director.


Bridgette Bassa and Ryan Foizey at St. Louis Actors’ Studio and the LaBute New Play Festival. Photo: John Lamb

The second set of plays that is still running again features Mr. LaBute’s “Life Model” as the opening one-act followed by “American Outlaws” By Adam Seidel. This quirky cat and mouse game with two shady characters takes a bizarre turn after the actors leave the stage. Those actors include Eric Dean White and David Wassilak. It’s directed by John Pierson.


Eric Dean White and David Wassilak in “American Outlaws” at the LaBute Festival at STLAS. Photo: John Lamb

“Show Of Affection” by Laurence Klaven and directed by Patrick Huber tries to out-quirky the previous play with a very odd family that would give the Addams Family a run for their money. Bridgette Bassa as the daughter, Ryan Foizey as the son, Emily Baker as the mother and David Wassilak as the father put the “fun” in dysfunctional. Finally, “Blue Balls” by Willie Johnson and again directed by Mr. Huber make the evening complete with more dysfunction as suitor Eric Dean White has a close encounter with his date’s son, played by Ryan Foizey.


Ryan Foizey and Eric Dean White in “Blue Balls” at the LaBute New Theatre Festival at St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Photo: John Lamb

St. Louis Actors’ Studio will once again be taking these plays to New York for a showing there in January and February. You’re invited to join them by calling 314-458-2978 for tickets or more information. Meanwhile, you can still catch the second set of one-acts at the Gaslight Theatre through July 31st. It’s a unique experience and this year is no exception. The one-act play is a lot of fun and these are all new and original scripts offered every year at the LaBute New Theatre Festival at STLAS.

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