Tuesday, June 8, 2010


On May 1, 2009, seventeen lesbian and gay couples, four members of the clergy, and a handful of supporters boarded the Show Me Marriage Equality Bus in St. Louis, Missouri. They set off on a five-hour journey to Iowa, a state that had recently legalized same-sex marriage following a ruling by its Supreme Court. Missouri, on the other hand, explicitly banned marriage between two men or two women and offered no legal recognition whatsoever to same-sex relationships.

That day, far from home and away from their families and friends, the couples exchanged vows and received their marriage licenses from the state of Iowa.

State of Marriage photoSince then, the Show Me Marriage Equality Bus has made the trip from St. Louis to Iowa three more times. Although the couples’ reasons for participating are often deeply personal, they all share a desire to publicly affirm their love and to have access to the rights and privileges enjoyed by married heterosexual couples.

A co-production of That Uppity Theatre Company and St. Louis Actors’ Studio, The State of Marriage tells the story of the Show Me Marriage Equality Bus and the lesbian and gay couples who chose to cross state lines to tie the knot.

State of Marriage photoThis innovative piece is about more than that, however. It also asks what marriage means in the 21st century. The State of Marriage looks at the pros and cons of this basic social institution while exploring its complicated social, religious, and historical dimensions.

Conceived and directed by Joan Lipkin in collaboration with J.T. Ricroft, The State of Marriage incorporates original storytelling techniques that anticipate audiences accustomed to blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. Lipkin includes a Greek chorus of bridesmaids, a quiz-show take on Leviticus, wedding cake, Twister, and risqué shout-outs to philandering celebrities.

The State of Marriage is also full of music, featuring cabaret singers, bits of pop songs, and dance numbers.

State of Marriage photoAs a special treat for the audience, local drag legend Dieta Pepsi—winner of Ms. Gay Missouri 1991—dons wedding wear and wows audiences as a sassy, gender-bending bridesmaid and civil rights prophet.

The American Civil Liberties Union has bought out the first night for a special benefit performance. If you would like to see the premiere of The State of Marriage and support the ACLU/EM's important work, consider purchasing a ticket to this show.

The State of Marriage premieres on Thursday, June 10 and runs until Sunday, June 20. Show times are 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

The performances take place at the Regional Arts Commission (6128 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63112).

Tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for students and seniors. Special group rates are also available.

Individual tickets are available for purchase through Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers or Charge by Phone at 1-800-982-2787. Tickets may also available at the theatre box office one hour prior to performances.