Anyone who has ever held a job is familiar with the concept of the "work self." That persona you create who can laugh at tired jokes, shrug off the rudeness of co-workers and is so very much like the real you, but not quite the real you, is the work self. The work self is something you can shake off at the end of the day, a psychic overcoat that shields you from the petty annoyances and emotional perils of the job.
But what if your work self worms its way into your psyche so deeply that you can no longer leave it at work, or even determine where the real you begins anymore? This is the dilemma faced by Shei Yua-Sha. As a star of Taiwanese opera, she has devoted herself to her work, and to her work self. For more than 50 years, she has played male roles, becoming more and more adept at convincingly and passionately portraying men on the stage. Now she wonders who she really is: woman playing man, or man inside a woman's body? And if she can't answer the question, who can?
Uhan Shii, a Taiwanese theater group dedicated to sharing the unique culture and arts of Taiwan, presents the true story of Shei Yua-Sha in My Journey at 7 p.m. at the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (call 314-935-8772 for information). Tickets for this exceptionally rare performance are $10. -- Paul Friswold
Take Me Out to the theater, Take Me Out to the Rep! Buy me some tix to '03's "Best Play" -- I wanna find out if the lead player's gay! So let's go, go, go to the Grandel (3610 Grandel Square) -- we hear in one scene they strip down! -- 'cause it's $20 to $45 for this night on the town! The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Richard Greenberg's Tony Award-winning play Wednesday, September 21, through October 9. Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org for times and tickets to the show that took Broadway -- and baseball -- by storm. And although peanuts and Cracker Jack are not included, this is one play that's bound to be a designated hit. -- Kristyn Pomranz
At the One-Act Play Festival
The curtain parts. Mr. Night, feral in a purple velour body suit, serves Glenlivet to five gypsies -- no, wrong. Sorry. That one's never been beyond Night & Day Global's theater-in-the-round in Festus, but not so for the productions St. Louis Community College-Forest Park (5600 Oakland Avenue) hosts in the Mildred E. Bastian Center for the Performing Arts as part of the fifteenth annual One-Act Play Festival. Five area institutions of higher learning stage the one-acts, which include Christopher Durang's "Wanda's Visit" and West Wing scribe Aaron Sorkin's "Hidden in This Picture." Performances start at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, September 22 through 24, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, September 25. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for senior citizens and students, and free to SLCC ID-card holders. (Owing to some mature content, children younger than twelve cannot be admitted.) Call the college at 314-644-9386 for further information. -- Alex Weir
Lost and Found
Helen has lost her necklace somewhere in the nameless Middle Eastern city, and so she goes in search of it; somewhere in the violence-wracked streets is her bauble, and if she keeps her eyes open, she may find it yet. But if she really opens her eyes to the city and its people, will she find something more valuable than a mere trinket? Upstream Theatre presents Helen's Necklace at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday (September 23 through October 2) at New City School (5209 Waterman Boulevard; 314-863-4999 or www.upstreamtheater.org). Tickets are $12 to $18. -- Paul Friswold