art and culture

Arts & Culture

Stray Dog Theatre

In the midst of an isolating pandemic, Stray Dog theatre is harnessing creativity and going above and beyond to ensure art reaches you.

In March, while Stray Dog Theatre was in rehearsals for Annie, the pandemic shut down entertainment venues across the country. Stray Dog Theatre was no exception — the theatre, intimate and thrilling in its best moments, became a bit too intimate and too thrilling with Covid.

But rather than settling for glitchy zoom recordings or cancelling the season altogether, Artistic Director Gary F. Bell saw a pivot was necessary. “Zoom was not going to cut it for me.” So they designed the Actor Pod — a plexiglass-enclosed booth where one actor could enter and perform for a camera, before leaving and sanitizing it for the next. Another innovation came in the form of a Halloween show — or rather, an audio experience: eerie readings of the poems and stories of Edgar Allen Poe, to be enjoyed from your own halloweeny home. 

“We’re creative, we need to put on our creative hats and come up with new ways to pivot, and I think we have done that very successfully.” So though 2020 is over, Stray Dog is not finished with creative solutions to the pandemic problem. In 2021, the goal is to resume with every-other-month offerings, beginning in February with performances from their New Works Laboratory. This is an opportunity for people in the community to submit original songs for performance by artists, likely in the Actor Pods. 

Gary hopes to resume in-person, indoor theater in Fall 2021, but the most important thing is making sure everyone feels safe and comfortable. “I want to make sure it is safe for my actors, designers, and the audience.” So when filming in the Actor Pods this past year, each person to enter the building would sign their name and provide info for contact tracing. Only one performer would be in the building at a time, and the next performer would arrive after a 30 minute stagger for cleaning and sanitation of the booth. This focus on safety, combined with the Theatre’s purchase of cameras for filming, and innovation in types of performances, has been a hit: “It’s kept performers busy and working, and it’s kept subscribers happy that there is something to be a part of.”

Despite the state of the world over this past year, Stray Dog Theatre continues to fulfill their mission of “unleashing the art of theatre and community service on Saint Louis and the surrounding community.” They continue to provide after-school arts programming in six Saint Louis Public Schools, providing a safe and creative space for students to be. Providing this service “is not just art, [this] service is really family-based,” ensuring working guardians know their child is being taken care of during these uncertain times. 

If you can, please chip in to support Stray Dog Theatre until the performing arts can meet back in person. You can donate on their website here, as well as stay up-to-date with the various innovative performances coming this year. 

stray dog theater

Stray Dog Theatre (SDT) is committed to unleashing the art of theatre and community service in Saint Louis and the surrounding community.

2336 Tennessee Avenue
Saint Louis, MO 63104

Phone: 314.865.1995
Fax: 314.865.1995

stray dog theater
stray dog theater

Jonah Miller, Tateonna Thompson, Kevin Corpuz, Alyssa Wolf, William Humphrey, Dawn Schmid, and Riley Dunn

Stray Dog Theater Pods

Stephen Peirick, Eileen Engel, Jeremy Goldmeier, and Abraham Shaw

Stray Dog Theater
Angela Bubash, Jan Meyer, Stephen Henley, and Donna M. Parrone

Photo credit: John Lamb and Justin Been

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