Thursday, June 1 – Sunday, June 18
By Emily Mann
Directed by Sharon Hunter
Purchase Tickets Meet the Cast and Crew
Decades after Gloria Steinem began raising her voice for equality and championing the voices of others, her vision is as urgent as ever. In this exploration of the iconic feminist’s legacy, the first act tells her story, and the second invites the audience to share their own. Gloria: A Life embodies Steinem’s philosophy that conversation is a catalyst for change as it celebrates one of the most inspiring women of our time. This production includes strong language, mature themes, and discussions of sexual harassment and domestic violence.
In a unique and interactive take, Act II of this play is a “talking circle.” After telling Gloria’s story in Act I, the actors will begin a discussion. At several performances, a local “Guest Responder” will launch the talking circle by sharing their own story of breaking barriers or simply responding to the play. This gives an opportunity for the audience to learn from each other, as, according to Gloria this “is the way we discover we’re not crazy and we’re not alone.” The New Jewish Theatre is excited to announce the guest responders for their performances.
June 1, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. – Senator Tracy McCreery
Senator Tracy McCreery, a Democrat, represents the 24th Senatorial District in St. Louis County. Senator McCreery was the first woman elected as an Independent to the Missouri House of Representatives in a 2011 special election, and was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2022. Much of Tracy’s community service is focused on helping those who do not have a voice or powerful lobbyists. She has volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri to help young people in our region and for Safe Connections (as board chair and committee chair) which helps those who are victims of relationship violence, sexual assault, and/or childhood sexual abuse. Tracy is a founding member of the St. Louis Rescue & Restore Coalition which advocated for victims of human trafficking through public advocacy, training and outreach. Tracy was also an early member of the St. Luis Million Mom March, joining in their fight against gun violence and the devastation it causes.
Tracy’s background as a businesswoman and in state government gives her a unique perspective. Early in her career, she held sales representative, trainer, and management positions for consumer healthcare and telecommunication firms. She served as the district aide to state Senator Joan Bray and in Governor Bob Holden’s administration. She has worked for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region as a fundraiser, Citizens for Missouri’s Children as an event planner, and Missouri NARAL (now Pro-Choice Missouri) as an associate director.
Tracy holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (marketing major) from The Ohio State University (1989). Tracy and her husband, Thom Wham, have been married for 28 years and live with their cat GiGi Laura Swinford Wham. In her free time, you will likely find Tracy reading, gardening, or enjoying the outdoors.
June 3, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. – Honorable Stacey Newman
Hon. Stacey Newman served nine years in the Missouri State House before retiring in 2018, representing a St. Louis County district in Clayton, University City and Richmond Heights.
Her policy focus for over twenty years has been on gun violence prevention, reproductive/abortion rights along with the right to vote and served as the chair of the House Progressive Caucus and ranking member on House Elections. Hon. Newman also was a founding member of the American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention, a nonpartisan coalition of over 200 members in all fifty states, which worked closely with President Obama’s White House Initiative on Gun Violence.
Currently she is the director and founder of the statewide ProgressWomen.com (founded in 2011) focusing on issues of justice and equality through a feminist lens. Stacey also has a strong background in the women’s vote and has worked on statewide and national campaigns in Missouri and Ohio. In 2002-2004 she was hired by the DNC and John Kerry for President as the Missouri Women’s Vote Director.
June 3, 2023 at 8:00 p.m. – Debra Cannamore-Lee
Debra Cannamore Lee, a native of St. Louis, received her BA and MBA from Lindenwood University. She completed CORO Focus Women in Leadership (WIL) Program 2020 and the National Council of Jewish Women Leadership Program in 2021.
Debra began her career with AT&T and has been with Evolent Health Care for 7 years as Supervisor in Provider Services.
As a published author Debra is active in her community, she has been involved with Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club, a member of Washington University Board of Advisors, St. Louis Campus YMCA, board member of Metro St. Louis, League of Women Voters, among a wide variety of other community projects.
Currently active with the Metro St. Louis League of Women Voters and the National Council of Jewish Women Debra has a purposeful mission to inspire others to embrace change and overcome challenges through empowerment. Debra enjoys speaking, dancing, traveling, and spending quality time with family and friends
June 4, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. – Lynn Wittels
Lynn Wittels is the President and CEO of The St. Louis Jewish Community Center. Under Lynn’s leadership, the Jewish Community Center has more than doubled its annual budget, transitioned to a healthy financial model and is considered one of the most successful Jewish Community Centers in the country.
Wittels has been involved in the community for many years in a variety of capacities. As a volunteer she served on boards of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, Jewish Community Center, and Congregation B’nai Amoona and was President of the Business & Professional Women’s Division of the Federation. She also served on the Ladue School District Budget Task Force and on the Planning Committee for the Ladue School District’s Education Foundation and is currently on the board of Webster University.
A native of Cincinnati, Wittels was named one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s “Most Influential Business Women” in 2010 and received a “40 Under 40.” She is also a 2010 recipient of a “What’s Right with the Region” Award in recognition of her work in promoting stronger communities.
June 8, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. – Ellen Alper and Nancy Litz
Ellen, Chief Executive Officer of NCJW-St. Louis has led the organization since 2004, managing a membership, advocacy, community service and educational organization with over 5000 members and supporters in the St. Louis area. She is a graduate of Newcomb College of Tulane University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy with a specialization in Urban Government. Ellen is also a graduate of the CORO Foundation’s Fellowship in Public Affairs, which is a nine month fellowship based on experiential learning in the areas of politics, labor, government, business, not for profits, media and corporate affairs. She completed the program after having served two years on President Carter’s staff in Washington D.C. in the Office of Presidential Personnel.
She is married to Steve and has three daughters, Emily, an RN, Melissa, an MSW and a CORO Fellows alumna, and Andi, an attorney. Ellen is an active community volunteer, having served as a board member and officer of the Delta Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation, and as a Past President of the Business and Professional Women’s Division of Jewish Federation. She is a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus, National Association of Resale and Thrift Stores, the American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters, Metropolitan Volunteer Managers Association, SLEVAWN and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She most recently served as a co-chair of the Ladue High School Class of 1976 reunion. Ellen currently serves on the CORO Program Advisory Committee at the University of Missouri St. Louis and on the non-profit Books for STL Kids Board of Directors.
Nancy Litz is the Board President of NCJW (National Council of Jewish Women) St Louis. An avid proponent of women’s right to make their own reproductive decision, she freely shares her personal abortion story at rallies and educational events. Prior to her presidency, Nancy served as VP of Leadership and VP of Advocacy within NCJW, as well as launching new programs like Project Renewal and monthly Third Thursday Lunch & Learn sessions on advocacy skills and policy issues.
Nancy co-chairs the Racial Justice Education Committee at Temple Israel and is a former board member of Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice and Professional Women’s Alliance.
June 10, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. – Ellen Futterman
A native of Westbury, N.Y, Ellen Futterman broke into the world of big city journalism as a general assignment reporter for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in the latter part of the 20th century. Deciding that Tinsel Town was not exciting enough for her, she moved on to that hub of glamour and sophistication, Belleville, Ill., where she became a feature writer, columnist and food editor for the Belleville News-Democrat. A year later the St. Louis Post-Dispatch scooped her up, working there for 25 years, during which time she covered hard news, education, features, investigative projects, profiles, sports, entertainment, fashion, interiors, business, travel and movies. She won numerous major local and national awards for her reporting on “Women Who Kill” and on a four-part series about teen-age pregnancy, ‘Children Having Children.’”
In January of 2009, Ellen joined the St. Louis Jewish Light as its editor, where she is responsible for overseeing all editorial operations, including managing both staff members and freelancers. Under her tutelage, the Light has won more than 40 Rockower Awards — considered the Jewish Pulitzers — including eight she received for her weekly News & Schmooze column and other stories she has written.
June 10, 2023 at 8:00 p.m. – Kathryn Bentley
Kathryn Bentley, Founder and Curator of The Alaiyo Collective, is a theater professional with over 40 years of experience as an actor, director and teaching artist. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theater Directing. Her work integrates knowledge from her extensive professional background with nearly 20 years as a university professor, as well as her skills as a practitioner of the Lessac Voice and Movement technique. She has performed with companies such as The St. Louis Black Repertory Company, HotCity Theater, Portland Stage, Cleveland Playhouse and Buffalo Studio Arena. A few of her directing credits include Love at the River’s Edge with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Bold, Brave and Curious with Metro Theater Company and Action which she co-produced. She is 2002 Fellow of the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission Community Arts Training Institute, of which she is now also a member of the advisory board. In 2014, she was one of the premiere recipients of the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission Artist Fellowship and in 2020 she received the Outstanding Working Artist St. Louis Visionary Award. Kathryn is an NCCJ St. Louis Certified Diversity FaciliTrainer. She specializes in developing new creative works and building community utilizing inclusive theater practices. The Alaiyo Collective creates spaces for seasoned African Diasporic women to identify and reimagine their creativity.
June 11, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. – Joan Lipkin
Internationally recognized as a groundbreaking theatre artist and social activist, Joan Lipkin uses performance and civic engagement, creating events and dialogues about the most pressing issues of our time. She has worked with diverse populations including cancer survivors, people in recovery, LGBTQ youth, adults, and their families, communities of faith, women who have been sexually trafficked, adults with dementia, and inner city youth.
She also founded numerous projects such as the DisAbility Project, Playback Now St. Louis, We Immigrants, Climate Change Theatre Action St. Louis, AC/DC Series, and Dance The Vote.
June 15, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. – Maharat Rori Picker Neiss
Rori Picker Neiss
Maharat Rori Picker Neiss serves as the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St Louis. Prior to that she was the Director of Programming, Education and Community Engagement at Bais Abraham Congregation, a Modern Orthodox Jewish synagogue in University City, MO. Rori is also honored to serve as the Rabbi in Residence at Holy Communion Episcopal Church, chair of the cabinet of Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis, and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
She previously worked as Acting Executive Director for Religions for Peace-USA, Program Coordinator for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, Assistant Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee, and Secretariat for the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, the formal Jewish representative in international, interreligious dialogue. Rori is a David Hartman Center fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders fellow, and co-editor of “InterActive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook.” She is married to Russel Neiss, a Software Engineer for Sefaria, and they have three children.
June 17, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. – Jill Schupp
At the age of 7, Jill learned about people who went to bed hungry. She promised herself that when she was older, she would work to feed those hungry people. She would fill a suitcase with steak (a special treat, she thought) and take it to those who were in need.
As she grew older, she realized that people are hungry in many ways.
Post-career, when concerns about her children’s school district arose, she realized that the only way to make change was to run for office. She ran and won a seat on the School Board. When all of the issues she ran to fix were resolved, she realized that even when it was hard, the impact of standing up and speaking out could, and did make a difference.
She served in elected positions for a combined 22 years. In addition to serving on the School Board, she served on the City Council, in the Missouri House, and in the Senate.
Jill’s state legislative efforts have focused on providing educational and economic opportunities, protecting and expanding healthcare access for all, championing women’s rights, and promoting justice and equality. Her policy work has centered on the underserved and voiceless in our state.
She has championed and helped pass legislation to expand Medicaid, to promote child safety in day care facilities, and to ensure all mental health professionals are trained in suicide prevention, as well as to require suicide prevention professional development in all MO public schools. Her suicide prevention work has earned national recognition.
She has worked as an ardent supporter of consumers’ rights and interests. She passed whistleblower protections to prevent misuse of taxpayer dollars; and worked with a broad array of stakeholders to create and pass the Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights. Working with NCJW, she was able to pass the Victims Economic Security and Safety Act, helping survivors get time away from work to deal with leaving an abusive relationship, without losing employment.
Jill founded the volunteer-based Missouri Veterans History Project in 2010 to archive the stories and experiences of Missouri’s veterans. It is still operating today. Her legislation to help schools detect and mitigate lead in drinking water throughout the state passed during her final term in the Senate.
Jill had served on the Missouri Veterans Commission since 2017, and, in August of 2022, passed the torch to work on the Veterans Community Project (VCP). VCP provides transitional housing to unhoused Veterans and develops a program designed to meet each individual’s unique needs. A Veteran’s program might include learning job skills, managing finances, dealing with mental and physical health issues – whatever is needed to help the Veteran rejoin society, move into permanent housing and live a stable, fulfilling and healthy life.
As she learned in Sunday School as a 7-year-old, Jill feels gratitude for the opportunities provided her to help “repair the world.”
No one does the work alone. She is grateful to those who helped expand her knowledge base, and supported her efforts. Hunger, she has learned, comes in many forms, and she is hopeful her 7-year-old promise to “feed the hungry” helped change many people’s life circumstances for the better.
Jill continues to remain involved in the community as a volunteer and board member for several nonprofits.
Her ability to be on stage and address an audience may have come as a result of her lead in a high school play… Pinocchio!
June 18, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. – Fannie Belle Lebby
Fannie Belle Lebby
Fannie Belle Lebby, director, actor, storyteller and community arts educator has a Master’s Degree in Theatre/Cinema from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. Since completing her education Fannie has embarked on a journey to “spread joy” by providing quality entertainment that is thought provoking and educational. This journey has led to performances in numerous theatres playing various characters throughout the USA and Europe, Most notable performances include Tituba in “The Crucible”; Lena in “Boseman & Lena”; Lena Younger in “A Raisin In The Sun”; Grandma in The River Niger”; various characters in “The Colored Museum”; and a two-year tour of “For Colored Girls….” On film she can be seen in “White Palace”, The George McKenna Story”, and Brian Jun’s “Joint Body.”
An avid storyteller she has told stories at libraries, college campuses, churches, schools, and community centers. Her series of stories include “Tahlio” stories, “You Gotta Spread the Word,” “HERSTORIES” and “Addy Tales” which was commissioned by the Vaughn Cultural Center. Directing credits include “The Honest to Goodness Truth” for the St. Louis Black Repertory Touring Company, “Madame Wright’s Wax Museum” for CLUB CHIPS, a directing internship at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. “When Oprah Says Goodbye” for the BRIEFS Festival, “I’ve been to the Mountaintop”, “Unsung Voices of Black St. Louis,” “A Black Woman Speaks,” “Functional: The Thelonious Monk Story,” “Stories from the Great Migration” and recently “#Enough: Plays to End Gun Violence” for A Call to Conscience Theater. For two years, Fannie “hung out” in the Metcalf Theatre at SIUE teaching and sharing theatre technique/life skills and dispersing other information learned from her theatrical journey and career with her THEA 112A students.
Fannie is a 2005 graduate of the Community Arts Training Program and a 2014 recipient of the Regional Arts Commission Artist Fellowship. Currently, she serves as Artistic Director of A Call to Conscience Theater Collective where she uses the arts to address social justice issues.