ST. LOUIS, MO: Inevitable Theatre Company proudly presents the regional premiere of the Risk Theater Initiative production of STIFF, written and performed by Sherry Jo Ward, at the Kranzberg Arts Center Black Box Theater in Grand Center, St. Louis, MO, from March 22-April 1, 2018.
In this “Fast Story About Moving Slow,” award-winning Dallas actress Sherry Jo Ward chronicles her struggle with Stiff Person Syndrome, an incredibly rare disease which impairs her mobility and causes her unexplained pain.
Part stand-up comedy, part PowerPoint presentation, STIFF is a “must-see” theatrical event – a unique and engaging first-person account of what it means to re-assess one’s own goals and ambition when confronted with a life-altering diagnosis.
The original Risk Theater Initiative production of STIFF, directed by Risk Artistic Director Marianne Galloway, was the unanimous standout at the 2017 Festival of Independent Theatres (FIT) in Dallas, winning recognition for Best Actress and Best New Play from the Dallas-Fort Worth Theatre Critics Forum. STIFF recently completed a run at Stage West in Fort Worth, TX, and Sherry has been nominated for the Baylor School of Medicine’s 2017 Circle of Care Human Spirit Award and NORD’s 2018 Rare Impact Awards, as well as numerous accolades from critics and audiences in the DFW region.
Sherry performed the devastating role of Shirley Jones in Inevitable Theatre Company’s first-ever production, Jordan by Anna Reynolds and Moira Buffini, at the 2007 Out of the Loop Festival in Addison, TX. This acclaimed production was later revived at Baylor University as a benefit for the Family Abuse Center in Waco, TX.
ITC Artistic Director Robert Neblett reflects on the choice to present this production: “When Sherry and I first spoke after her initial diagnosis, I knew that this rare disorder was no match for Sherry’s rare talent. And later, after she informed me that she and the artists at Risk Theater Initiative were creating STIFF together, I told her then and there that I wanted to bring her story to St. Louis audiences.”
Ward’s previous theatre credits include Barbara in August: Osage County (WaterTower Theatre), Brodie in Precious Little (Echo Theatre), Queen Elizabeth in Mary Stuart (Walking Shadow Theatre), Pickles in Life Sucks (Stage West Theatre), and Dee in International Falls, written especially for her to perform with playwright, husband Thomas Ward. She premiered Scripted and Ham and Moon on Rye at Actors Theatre of Louisville. She has also performed at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium in a musical production of A Christmas Carol with Gaylord Productions. Sherry holds a BA in Theatre from Abilene Christian University and an MFA from University of Alabama/Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
ITC PARTNERS WITH PARAQUAD
Because of the play’s unique subject matter, ITC is honored to present STIFF in partnership with Paraquad, a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower people with disabilities to increase their independence through choice and opportunity. Founded in St. Louis in 1970 by Max Starkloff, Paraquad is one of the oldest Centers for Independent Living in the country.
As part of this vital cooperation, ITC and Paraquad will be sponsoring a series of post-show talkbacks after each performance featuring actress/playwright Sherry Jo Ward. Selected performances (TBD) will also feature Risk Theater Initiative Artistic Director Marianne Galloway and members of the Paraquad staff and local disability advocacy community. Ward will also serve as a guest speaker for Paraquad’s spring Cultural Competency Committee event on Tuesday, March 27, 2018.
The Thursday, March 29, 2018, performance will feature a public discussion between Ward and Paraquad’s President and Chief Executive Officer Aimee Wehmeier, accompanied by a reception.
Additionally, ITC is working with Paraquad and its partners to provide accessible performances for deaf and blind patrons that include ASL interpreters and audio description. Specific details about these performances will be announced soon.
Kevin Condon, Paraquad’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations, states, “Paraquad is proud to partner with Inevitable Theatre Company to raise awareness about the barriers that people with disabilities experience in living integrated, active lives.”
Inevitable Theatre Company also announces that it is among a select group of regional presenters to receive a Mid-America Arts Alliance Regional Touring Grant. This award will support the performance run of STIFF by Sherry Jo Ward, as well as the aforementioned outreach activities.
Funding for Inevitable Theatre Company’s M-AAA’s grant is drawn from generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts, Missouri Arts Council, and foundations, corporations, and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Mid-America Arts Alliance, the nation’s oldest regional arts organization, was founded in 1972 to foster cultural growth in heartland communities. Today, M-AAA primarily serves communities throughout Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas, and it develops and delivers arts and humanities programs for a national audience. Mid-America Arts Alliance programs attract more than one million people annually in more than 300 communities.
Todd Stein, M-AAA’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “Inevitable Theatre Company is to be commended for their commitment to serving their community with this distinctive event. Audiences in St. Louis will have the opportunity to see the exciting work of Sherry Jo Ward, many for the first time. Mid-America Arts Alliance is proud to help support this work and Inevitable Theatre Company.”
For more information about Mid-America Arts Alliance, visit them online at www.maaa.org.
Founded in Dallas, TX, in 2007 by Artistic Director Robert Neblett, Inevitable Theatre Company celebrates a broad spectrum of theatrical expression by producing dynamic works for the stage that engage and transform audiences and artists alike: intellectually, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. ITC believes the primary function of theatre is to entertain, but it also maintains that its responsibility as an artistic entity is to honestly reflect the culture of the world around it. Companies like ITC have the power to preserve well-established performance traditions, while at the same time providing a bold, dynamic forum for provocative new voices and diverse points of view.
ITC’s past productions include UNSUSPECTING SUSAN, JORDAN, DOG SEES GOD, and SURFACE TENSION 2008. Inevitable Theatre Company is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
ITC receives generous funding for its productions in 2018 from Mid-America Arts Alliance, the CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams Foundation, and United Way.
ITC would also like to acknowledge the Kranzberg Arts Foundation for its support of independent theatre companies in the metropolitan St. Louis area by providing access to a variety of professional performance spaces in the Grand Center Arts District.
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STIFF, WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY SHERRY JO WARD, WILL BE PRODUCED MARCH 22-25 & 29-31, 2018 AT 8 PM AND MARCH 25 & 31 AND APRIL 1, 2018 AT 2 PM, AT THE KRANZBERG ARTS CENTER BLACK BOX THEATER, 501 N GRAND BLVD., ST. LOUIS, MO 63103.
GENERAL ADMISSION TICKETS FOR ADULTS ARE $25 EACH. GENERAL ADMISSION TICKETS FOR STUDENTS, SENIORS, AND ARTS INDUSTRY MEMBERS ARE $15 EACH. FOR TICKETS, CONTACT METROTIX AT 314-534-1111 OR WWW.METROTIX.COM.