Joan Lipkin | St. Louis Public Radio

Joan Lipkin

The Playback NOW! St. Louis cast poses with immigration storytelling volunteer Junior Lara (middle).
Joan Lipkin

Junior Lara distinctly remembers the day he was approved for his U.S. green card. It was 1993, and he was nine years old. It was the first time he had ever signed his name.

A year later, Lara, his mother and three brothers moved from the Dominican Republic to New York City to reunite with his father who had been working for years to bring his family to the U.S.

From left, Carol Swartout Klein and Joan Lipkin hold a poster for the play "26 Pebbles."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Drawing inspiration from a dark place, playwright Eric Ulloa created a theater production that highlights the issue of gun violence in the United States.

After 20 first graders and six school teachers were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Ulloa visited the recovering community of Newtown, Connecticut and collected more than 60 interviews, ultimately weaving them into a play titled “26 Pebbles.”

Actor Dan Kelly aims his gun, as a cop in "You Try It" by Neil LaBute, part of the "Every 28 Hours" theater collaboration. Actors Joel Beard, Noble Montgomery and Theresa Masters look on.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Every day, in St. Louis or elsewhere, a black person shudders in fear after seeing a police officer approaching. Every day, a cop makes a lightning-quick decision that could mean life or death.

State Rep. Paul Curtman is a Donald Trump supporter. But the Union Republicand didn't like how the GOP presidential nominee embraced "stop and risk."
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Make no mistake about it: State Rep. Paul Curtman is supporting Donald Trump in the presidential race. Even though the Republican from Union supported Ted Cruz in the GOP primaries, Curtman isn’t joining the so-called “Never Trump” movement by withholding his support or backing Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But as he watched Monday’s presidential, Curtman said he was dismayed by what he saw as a lack of respect from both candidates to the U.S. Constitution. He was especially critical of how Trump embraced “stop and frisk” policing, a policy that was used extensively in New York City.

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. 

'Renee' raises identity and inclusion issues

Apr 9, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 9, 2012 - “Raising Renee” begins joyously in 2003 at the New York City gallery opening of Beverly McIver. Her mother and sister, Renee, are there to celebrate the moment and support her. But as the documentary unfolds it will be Beverly who provides the support.

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

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 26, 2012 - I was on hand at a meeting back in the early 1990s when the Arts and Education Council came up with the idea of giving awards to honor cultural contributions by individuals and organizations in the region.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 8, 2011 - The St. Louis Arts and Education Council has released the names of its 2012 awardees in six categories. They are:

Commentary: When theater is dangerous

Jan 24, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 24, 2011 - In the United States, we have the luxury of forgetting (or perhaps never learning) the role that theater plays in other parts of the world. Despite my abiding love of this unique art form, theater is not as significant in this country as it used to be. In many ways, its attraction as primary story teller and representation of culture has been supplanted by television, film and the internet. But it still matters. And sometimes, it matters so much, it can be downright threatening.

A look back at PrideFest

Jun 29, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 29, 2010 - Pride today certainly isn't just for LGBT folk - the abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. In this 31st year for St. Louis Pride, approximately 85,000 people attended the two-day celebration.

The fun and upbeat festival celebrates self pride and community respect. And the people who attended crossed all lines of race, age, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 26, 2010 - You've heard of the Love Train, but what about the Marriage Bus?


This vehicle of matrimonial equality took its maiden voyage to Iowa just a few days after the April 2009 legalization of same-sex marriage in the Hawkeye state. "The State of Marriage," a play conceived and directed by Joan Lipkin, artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company, chronicles the bus' debut and its subsequent trips.

This 'Tom Sawyer' redefines adventure

Feb 18, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 18, 2010 - The actresses playing Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher both have their own favorite moments in the DisAbility Project’s production of “The Assorted Short Adventures of Tom, Huck and Becky.”

For Ana Jennings, who plays Becky, it’s the cave scene, where she and Tom are trapped. There they sing a duet about the promise of freedom.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 10, 2010 - New Line Theatre Company's Scott Miller recently came thisclose to homelessness after moving in and out of eight different venues in 16 years. But the artistic director got an early holiday present when Washington University unexpectedly agreed to another one-year contract for the theater inside its Clayton Road building, the former Christian Brothers College High School. The decision came after several months of worry.

"I have no idea where we would have gone," Miller said.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 25, 2009 - That Uppity Theatre CompanyArtistic Director Joan Lipkin likes to joke that this year's birthday made her a highway. "I'm 55," she noted. If that's the case, then her theater company is half of another popular St. Louis concrete stretch: 40.

Showing that the stage may be mightier than the sword or the pen, Lipkin's company has for 20 years merged theater with social justice, concentrating on disability, reproductive rights, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues and representation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 17, 2009 - When it comes to abortion some people write their members of Congress. Some people post long-winded blogs. Still others stand on sidewalks with angry signs. Joan Lipkin produces a show.