Arts & Culture » Arts

The RFT's Fall Arts Guide: St. Louis Shows, Performances and Exhibits

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Sweat

September 8 through 26. Edison Theatre, 6465 Forsyth Boulevard, University City. $15 to $55. 314-935-6543.

Written by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, Sweat explores the intersection of economics, race and cultural identity through a meeting of friends in a fictional bar in Reading, Pennsylvania, with reviews of the play noting that its characters represent blue-collar workers who voted for Donald Trump as president. Described as a "deeply heartfelt drama" with plenty of humorous elements, the play sees its characters' friendship tested by layoffs and the outsourcing of work, as the friends are forced to decide between looking out for one another or fending for themselves. The Black Rep's production of the award-winning play is directed by Ron Himes, and runs from September 8 through 26. For tickets and more information, visit theblackrep.org.

—Daniel Hill

Shakespeare in the Streets: Avengeance

8 p.m. September 9 through 11. Annie Malone Home, 2612 Annie Malone Drive. Free. 314-531-0120.

All the world's a stage, and the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival is once again venturing beyond its summer home in Forest Park to prove it with Shakespeare in the Streets. Marking its tenth production after a pandemic-canceled 2020, the annual program, which is free to the public, ventures into St. Louis neighborhoods to stage a locally produced original play inspired by one of the bard's timeless classics.

This year, that classic is none other than Hamlet — but in this adaptation, titled Avengeance, the tragedy departs from Hamlet's royal anxieties in Denmark to land in the Ville in north St. Louis, where a young man wrestling with the decision to leave his family home is visited by the ghosts of famed comedian and activist Dick Gregory and pioneering Black hair-care entrepreneur Annie Malone.

Written by Mariah Richardson and directed by Ville resident Thomasina Clarke, the play pivots on the notion of revenge for the current state of a once-thriving neighborhood now hard-hit by depopulation, disinvestment and disillusionment. "Hamlet's premise is his father's ghost coming back wanting to be avenged," Clarke notes in an interview. "These ghosts have come back to ask for change, not just from the community, but from the city at large, which has abandoned them."

Among the all-persons-of-color cast is Carl Overly, Jr., who played Cornwall in St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's nationally lauded production of King Lear earlier this year. And while Hamlet and King Lear may tilt on the fate of nations, Clarke says the drama of Avengeance will be no less substantial or cutting in its portrayals of destiny and betrayal. "Right now, we're in a tragic mode, but we don't have to remain here," she says, describing both the play's setting and the neighborhood in which she still lives. "It's a story of hope," she adds, "and the hope is that people will come to understand that there is value here, and to stop giving up and walking away from it."

Avengeance premiers September 9 at 8 p.m. at the Annie Malone Home in the Ville neighborhood. For more information, visit stlshakes.org/production/theville/ or call 314-531-9800. The performances are free.

—Danny Wicentowski

Music at the Intersection

September 10 through 12. Grand Boulevard and Washington Avenue. $55 to $300.

The inaugural Music at the Intersection Festival will see headliners including Roy Ayers, Gregory Porter and Lalah Hathaway joined by more than forty local acts spanning across such genres as blues, rock & roll, jazz, soul, R&B and hip-hop. Additionally, national acts including Lee Fields & The Expressions, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Ikebe Shakedown, Keyon Harrold, the Soul Rebels featuring GZA, Bettye LaVette, DM-FunK, the Baylor Project and Don Bryant featuring the Bo-Keys will all perform as well. The ambitious undertaking will take place across six venues in Grand Center, with performances at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, the Big Top, the Sheldon Concert Hall, the Grandel Theatre, Jazz St. Louis and the Open Air tent. Tickets are available in the form of single- or multi-day passes, ranging from $55 to $300 for VIPs. For more information, visit musicattheintersection.org.

—Daniel Hill

Dreaming Zenzile

September 10 to October 3. The Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. $29 to $99. 314-968-4925

The Rep is hosting not one, but two world premieres this fall. Up first: the long-awaited debut of Dreaming Zenzile kicks off the season and hits the stage on September 10. Originally scheduled for a March 2020 release but pushed back due to COVID-19, the musical maps the life of South African musician and activist Miriam Makeba. In an interview with the RFT in March 2020, the writer and main performer Somi Kakoma said that "the idea is that we just ask people to dream for 90 minutes." Dreaming Zenzile will take place live at the Loretto-Hilton Center from September 10 to October 3.

—Jenna Jones

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has a slate of (free!) shows planned for this fall in Forest Park. - COURTESY ST. LOUIS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
  • COURTESY ST. LOUIS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has a slate of (free!) shows planned for this fall in Forest Park.

Dinosaur Jr. with Ryley Walker

8 p.m., Thursday, September 16. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. $30 to $35. 314-726-6161.

If you've been missing the power of live, loud, bone-crunching rock & roll during the pandemic, Dinosaur Jr. is ready to give you a booster dose. The September 16 concert will be one of the biggest shows to happen at the Pageant since it came back to life after suffering (yet somehow surviving through) the sudden closure of all things fun during the pandemic. And no non-medical industry was hit harder than the live music entertainment business. While restaurants had to try to pivot to curbside and everyone else learned how to wear masks, the concert industry mostly sat, defeated, until people could get a vaccine. And while there are many more things we can do now since those first early dark days of the pandemic, live music has remained a rare treat. The Pageant is trying to keep the doors open, too, so there are rules in place now to help keep everyone safe. The venue was one of the first in town to announce that patrons must have a vaccine or a recent negative test to enter. And guests will need to wear a mask, too. But it's a small price to pay to be baptised by the glory that is the Dinosaur Jr. live show. If you've seen it before, you know that in addition to the mask, you'll want to bring earplugs, too. Dino does it loud.—Jaime Lees

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