Joan Lipkin

Kim Furlow and Emily Baker during a rehearsal of "A Comfortable Fit," part of the "Briefs" festival of LGBT plays
Briefs festival

St. Louis’ annual “Briefs” festival of LGBT plays is toasting its success this weekend.

During the event’s five years, audiences have grown and the festival has moved into a larger space. The number of  submissions has increased, and more esteemed playwrights and actors are participating. This year’s playwrights include Kansas native James Still, who was nominated twice for a Pulitzer Prize and three times for an Emmy Award.

Joan Lipkin
Willis Ryder Arnold

"Uppity" is a word with a history of keeping women and minorities "in their place." But when Joan Lipkin named her theater company in 1989, she showed marginalized people that their "place" was in the spotlight.

Since then, That Uppity Theatre has celebrated the LGBT population and people with various abilities and addressed issues including abortion and racism. The work has provoked thought, fostered acceptance and won numerous awards.

Art for those with challenges

Mar 20, 2015

We've heard of wheelchair basketball, tennis and ice hockey played by those with legs that don't function and we've heard of the Special Olympics.

In the arts there are wonderful organizations who help those with physical and mental disabilities to be a part of the St. Louis art scene.

The Riverfront Times had a terrific article entitled "Thespians On Wheels: Joan Lipkin's Disability Project is on a Roll" written by Aimee Levitt. Levitt says, "There are many ways to fight for social change: marching, shouting, stripping. Joan Lipkin has tried them all."

Dr. Ken Haller, far left, Joan Lipkin and John Schmidt are participating in next week's Briefs Festival. The trio talked to 'Cityscape' host Steve Potter, far right, about the event on March 20, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

What do a gay mermaid looking for love, a Jewish mother who competitively wants her single son to have the biggest wedding, and a lesbian version of Dr. Seuss have in common?

They are all themes in this year’s Briefs Festival of Short LGBT Plays, a festival that brings together numerous directors and actors to showcase the work of eight different playwrights under one roof.

The eight plays being performed at the festival on March 27-29 at the Centene Center for the Arts have been selected out of more than 170 submissions from across the country.

Courtesy The Vital Voice

The third annual “Briefs” festival featuring short LGBT plays will be held downtown next weekend at La Perla. This year the plays were selected from over 100 submissions, said Joan Lipkin, artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company, which puts on the festival in partnership with The Vital Voice.

Joan Lipkin has been creating theater with people who have disabilities since 1996, when she co-founded the DisAbility Project.  An outgrowth of That Uppity Theatre Company, of which Lipkin is artistic director, the DisAbility Project brings together amateur and professional performers of all abilities to create theater based on lived experience.

John Lamb

For the second time, That Uppity Theatre Company and The Vital VOICE join forces to present a festival featuring 7 short LGBT plays.  Each play lasts just 10 minutes, so audience members can see all 7 works in just 90 minutes. 

In “Briefs: A Festival of Short Lesbian and Gay Plays,” the list of local theater celebrities is anything but brief. 

The Feb. 24-26 weekend festival includes such veteran and award-winning directors as Edward Coffield, Annamaria Pileggi and Ed Reggi, and actors Donna Weinsting, Troy Turnipseed and Ken Haller. Even burlesque performer Lola Van Ella gets into the act. 

Where: La Perla (312 N. 8th Street), 63101