“Blow, Winds” uses Shakespeare to spark conversations in St. Louis
13 September, 2017
Updated 9/15: For safety and security reasons the Friday, September 15 performance of "Blow, Winds" has been cancelled. For updates on the remaining Shakespeare in the Streets performances, follow Shakespeare Festival St. Louis on Facebook.
This weekend, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, an A&E grantee, will host its sixth annual Shakespeare in the Streets (SITS) with a production of “Blow, Winds.” Since 2012, SITS has partnered with St. Louis neighborhoods to develop an original play inspired by one of Shakespeare’s plays. Neighborhood residents play key roles in the production from story development to performance.
This year’s production features a twist from previous years. Rather than taking place in just one neighborhood such as Cherokee Street or Maplewood, the 2017 production will encompass all of St. Louis’ neighborhoods. “Blow, Winds,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” will take place at the Central Public Library in downtown St. Louis and ask residents from all neighborhoods to reflect on “what it means to be a St. Louisan today?”
Playwright Nancy Bell, who has been with SITS since its inception, says the program helps build bridges within the community.
“What I witness over and over again is people who would have never met each other because they come from these very separate, segregated worlds of St. Louis,” explained Bell. “The process provides a way for them to relate that they just couldn’t get in any other way and they learn about each other and create relationships that change them.”
Cast member Adam Flores echoes Bell’s sentiments. “I love getting to work with people from all over the city and my neighborhood who I would not have met if not for SITS; nothing brings people together like doing a play.”
The production includes music from local standout musician/DJ/composer, Lamar Harris, a SITS newcomer. Harris has partnered with big musical acts, including Common, Eric Roberson and Huey Lewis and The News, but his 2015 work on “Buddy Holly” at The Muny sparked an interest in theatre.
When asked to describe what role his music will play in the production this year Harris said, “To first and foremost to help people be entertained and have a good time. Second thing, I hope it will spark some conversations and dialogue about some things that are going on in our city. I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions and a lot of people are just scared to talk about a lot of different things.”
“Blow Winds” is September 15-17 at 8 p.m. nightly at the St. Louis Public Library – Central Library, 1301 Olive St. 63103. Performances are free and open to the public. For more information, visit sfstl.com.