Back in the late 1960s and early ‘70s when feminism was in its fledgling phase, Gloria Steinem became well known as a leader and spokesperson for the women’s liberation movement. Find out where and when you can see a provocative play about her life.

Kirsten De Broux as Gloria Steinem
Photo by Greg Lazerwitz

By Peg Cameron Gill

Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer who devoted much of her time to political organizations and became a leading advocate for the women’s lib movement. She helped found the Coalition of Labor Union Women, Voters for Choice, Women Against Pornography, and the Women’s Media Center. 

Steinem’s life is the subject of a provocative play called Gloria: A Life, being presented by The New Jewish Theatre of St. Louis beginning June 1.

Written by acclaimed playwright Emily Mann, with input from Gloria Steinem herself, Gloria: A Life explores the iconic feminist’s legacy. Decades after Gloria Steinem began raising her voice for equality and championing the voices of others, her vision remains as urgent as ever. This play embodies Steinem’s philosophy that conversation is a catalyst for change, as it celebrates one of the most inspiring women of our time.

 Sharon Hunter, the director, says she is honored to lead the production. “As our country continues to struggle with painful questions about race relations, reproductive rights, and gender equality, Gloria’s leadership continues to inspire many to take up this quest for freedom,” Hunter said. “My hope is that our production will encourage men and women to rally their collective voices and carry on her work.”

 After telling Gloria’s story in Act I, Act II of this play immerses the audience in an interactive  “talking circle,” where the actors will begin a discussion. At several performances, a local “Guest Responder” will start 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, which, according to Steinem “is the way we discover we’re not crazy and we’re not alone.”

 The production will feature an entirely female cast and crew. Led by director Hunter, this team includes Fallon Podrazik (Scenic Design), Michele Friedman Siler (Costume), Denisse Chavez (Lighting Design), Amanda Werre (Sound Design) and Katie Orr (Props).

Kirsten De Broux, returning to the New Jewish Theatre stage after appearing in 2022’s Laughter of the 23rd Floor, will lead as Gloria Steinem. She is joined by an ensemble of six actors:  Kayla Ailee Bush, Sarah Gene Dowling, Chrissie Watkins, Lizi Watt, Summer Baer (Brighton Beach Memoirs, 2019), and Carmen Cecilia Retzer. They play a wide variety of roles, including fellow activists and icons Flo Kennedy, Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Bella Abzug, Wilma Mankiller, and many others.

 “I am thrilled to bring an all-female cast and creative team together for Gloria: A Life,” says Artistic Director of the New Jewish Theatre, Rebekah Scallet. “This play celebrates pioneering women fighting for equality in the workplace, the home, and the political arena, as well as to have control over their own bodies. The world of theater is still very much male-dominated, especially in the fields of scenic, lighting, and sound design, so it’s wonderful to have this amazing group of talented women collaborating to tell this important story.”

 You can catch Gloria: A Life at the J’s Wool Studio Theatre (2 Millstone Campus Drive, St. Louis), from June 1 to June 18. 

Learn more about the play, performance times, the cast, and purchasing tickets here.

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