ST. LOUIS, Mo. - On June 12, 2016, the largest episode of civilian gun violence in the history of the US occurred in Orlando, Florida at the Pulse Nightclub. That night, the massacre took the lives of 49 LGBTQ, Latinx, and allied people.


As the one-year anniversary of this tragedy approaches, That Uppity Theatre Company has teamed with R-S Theatrics in cooperation with St. Louis Pride and St. Charles Pride to facilitate a night where the arts can help the St. Louis community commemorate the occasion through After Orlando.

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After Orlando is an international playwright-driven theatre action of commissioned short plays about the massacre from many perspectives. It was created by Blair Baker and Zac Kline of Missing Bolts Productions Inc. and Caridad Svich of No Passport Theatre Alliance to help inform and heal multiple communities. This past fall, After Orlando was read across the country and in the UK at over 75 venues, featuring work from playwrights from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdoms, and Africa.


Previous locations and productions include professional theatres, community centers, podcasts, classroom settings, and more.


The evening will include staged readings from a number of the plays that range from 3-8 minutes in length from the After Orlando collection to take place at the Contemporary Art Museum in Grand Center on Friday, June 16, 2017 at 7:30pm. The Contemporary is located at 3750 Washington Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63108.


This event is free, but reservations are suggested. Attendees can reserve their tickets through Eventbrite. The galleries at the Contemporary are open until 8pm, and the current exhibitions are Urban Planning: Art and the City 1967 – 2017, and KAWS: Far Far Down. A cash bar will be available.

 

Collaborating directors for this one night only event include Kathryn Bentley, Adam Flores, Sarah Holt, Fannie Belle Lebby, Joan Lipkin, Christina Rios, John Wolbers, and Blake Willoughby among others.


An interactive post-show conversation will follow the readings.


“We are grateful that the Contemporary Art Museum recognizes the magnitude of this anniversary and is hosting After Orlando,” said Joan Lipkin, Producing Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company.

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The importance of commemorating the Pulse Nightclub massacre goes beyond remembering the lives that were lost that night due to homophobia. Currently multiple states around the US have passed or have in their legislative bodies ‘religious freedom’ bills that discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community in many instances ranging from normal commerce activities to the adoption of children.


Beyond religious freedom bills, North Carolina’s recently elected Governor, Roy Cooper, signed a bill repealing HB 2, more commonly known as the Bathroom Bill. Cooper, a Democrat, stated that he wanted a law that added protections for LGBTQ North Carolinians, but said that wasn’t possible with the Republican super majority in his state. Though HB 2 was strongly anti-LGBTQ, the new bill signed, HB 142, is worse because the law forbids any state agency—school board, university, department—from establishing pro-LGBTQ laws regarding bathrooms without the State Assembly’s approval.


On the national stage, Vice President Mike Pence, when running for Congress in 2000 was known for advocating federal funds to promote people to change their sexual orientation. Activists say this is code for damaging and discriminatory conversion therapy for LGBTQ individuals.


As federal and state governments create discriminatory laws and or vote against laws supporting the rights of LGBTQ people, After Orlando is something needed in communities nationally to celebrate human diversity and create better social awareness of the issues LGBTQ people face on a daily basis.


That Uppity Theatre Company in conjunction with the St. Lou Fringe, first produced After Orlando in St. Louis at the Kranzberg Arts Center last November. According to Lipkin, the readings and audience response were so powerful she and other colleagues felt a need to reprise and broaden the event so that more people can participate.


“There’s something urgent and necessary about reading and staging these plays and that may be why there has been such response internationally to the material. To perform and to witness is to enter the experience of the other. It is a crucial gateway to empathy and one more way to encourage appreciation of diversity,” said Lipkin.


Artistic Director of R-S Theatrics, Christina Rios said, “We have the opportunity to come together as a community to celebrate not only art and hope, but also to honor and remember those that were lost to a hateful act. R-S is proud to join with other theatre companies and organizations to be a small part of continuing a much larger, badly needed, conversation.”


“The generosity of the arts community is even more apparent in times like this. The playwrights have waived royalties, the directors and actors are donating their time. The Contemporary is hosting us. This is what community looks like,” said Lipkin.

 

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