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Alan Bennett's ‘Talking Heads’ At St. Louis Actors’ Studio

In the late 1980’s, British playwright Alan Bennett produced a series of monologues featuring the best actors in England for BBC Radio.  From the time director Lana Pepper heard Maggie Smith in “A Bed Among the Lentils” in the early 1990’s, she was fascinated by the project and searched out others in the series.  Now thirty years later, she is fulfilling a dream by staging three of them in a production for St. Louis Actors’ Studio, “Talking Heads.” She also hopes to some day stage the other nine Bennett monologues.

Glynis Bell is featured in the role of Susan in “A Bed Among the Lentils.”  Susan, an alcoholic vicar’s wife, leaves her responsibilities behind and carries on an affair with a grocer in Leeds.  Bell, who has performed on Broadway, on television and in regional theaters all over the country, is no stranger to St. Louis.  She was featured in the title role of “Martha Mitchell Calling” for St. Louis Actors’ Studio in 2009, which Pepper also directed.

Alan Knoll plays the role of Graham Whittaker in “A Chip in the Sugar.” The plot revolves around the middle-aged Whittaker’s jealousy when his mother re-unites with an old flame and his efforts to thwart their relationship.  Knoll is well-known to St. Louis audiences having performed in numerous productions over his thirty year career including playing the role of George in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” for Muddy Waters Theatre Company and all the residents of Bedford Falls in Dramatic License Productions’ “This Wonderful Life.”

Elizabeth Ann Townsend plays the role of Rosemary Horrocks in “Nights in the Gardens of Spain.” Horrocks, a lonely woman in a less than ideal marriage, tries to delay the move her husband wants the couple to make by tending the garden of a female neighbor’s garden after the neighbor is arrested for murdering her abusive husband. Townsend recently played the role of Jean in the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ production of “Good People.”  Before coming to St. Louis two years ago, she performed in plays, films, national commercials and on television in New York City, including roles in “The Sopranos” and “Law and Order.”

“Talking Heads” opens May 17 at 8:00 p.m. at the Gaslight Theatre on Boyle.  Additional performances are May 18, 23, 24 and 25 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 19 and 26 at 2:00 p.m.  A benefit High Tea follows the two matinees.

Lana Pepper, Glynis Bell, Alan Knoll and Elizabeth Ann Townsend were Steve Potter’s guest on “Cityscape” to discuss the Bennett monologues and their roles in the St. Louis Actors’ Studio’s production.

Related Event

St. Louis Actors' Studio Presents Alan Bennett's "Talking Heads"
May 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25, 2013
8:00 p.m.
May 19 and 26, 2013
2:00 p.m.
Gaslight Theatre, 358 N. Boyle
(800) 982-2787
St. Louis Actors' Studio Website

Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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