News & Features

New Faith-Based Theatre Group Provides Opportunity for Students

This fall, Fontbonne University will showcase The Mustard Seed Theatre, a new professional theatre company headed by Artistic Director and Fontbonne Professor Deanna Jent. The theatre group, which produces plays that focus on faith and social justice issues, provides undergraduate and graduate students with internship opportunities within the company.

"Students will gain professional experience as well as connections to the larger world of professional theatre in St. Louis. This unique combination of liberal arts education and professional theatre experience is only available at Fontbonne University," said Jent.

Mustard Seed Theatre is designed to explore people's relationship with God and their ethical responsibility to the world. It was inspired by Jent and resident artists Gary Barker, Adam Flores, Kelley Ryan, Michael Sullivan and Leslie Wobbe. The company, which will hire Union actors and Stage Managers, will work in residence at Fontbonne University, performing in the black box theatre.

"The mustard seed is a Biblical reference to the power of faith, but it's also an image of hope and growth," said Jent. "In the past year, I've had many conversations with people exploring difficult but important questions about God and how their faith fits in contemporary life. I realized that I had a number of scripts that address these questions - scripts that would fit perfectly into a company like this."

Mustard Seed Theatre will debut Sept. 8 - 10, with a staged reading of "The As If Body Loop," by Ken Weitzman. The philosophy of football coaches, an ancient Jewish myth and the aftermath of 9/11 combine in this quirky exploration of family ties and human inter-connectedness. This is the first offering in Mustard Seed's "Dijon Discussion Series," which is designed to plant questions and cultivate dialogue in a post-show discussion format. The Mustard Seed blog will be made available for continuing post-show discussion.

Running Nov. 15 - Dec. 2, "Remnant" focuses on a family struggling to celebrate a vaguely-remembered holiday known as "the Christ-mas" three generations after a plague has all but wiped out humanity. The unexpected arrival of a stranger launches an exploration of sacrifice and forgiveness.

The Dijon Discussion Series will also perform a staged reading of Craig Wright's "The Unseen" on Feb. 23 - 25, 2008. In this allegorical play, two torture victims fantasize about their eventual escape but are horrified by what brings about their eventual salvation.
Also, playing April 10-27, 2008, is William Shakespeare's exploration of power, justice, faith and mercy, "Measure for Measure." The play veers from slapstick humor to heart-wrenching confrontations as Isabella must choose between her virtue and her brother's life. This fully-staged production closes Mustard Seed's debut season.

The Dijon Discussion Series' staged readings are performed Saturdays and Mondays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10. Fully-staged performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday - Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Fontbonne University Black Box Theatre in the Fine Arts Building at 6800 Wydown Blvd. in Clayton. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. Thursday performances will be "Pay What You Can Or Pay With A Can" with proceeds donated to local food pantries. 10% percent of all ticket sales will be donated to local designated charities. For tickets or audition information, call the Mustard Seed Theatre office at 314-889-8060 or visit www.MustardSeedTheatre.com.

Read more about The Mustard Seed Theatre in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.