It was going to be “Little Shop of Horrors.”
But after a year of protest and contagion, of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, of anti-maskers and contact tracing, staging even the most jaded of sci-fi musicals seemed both tone deaf and impossible to socially distance. Ron Himes needed a new fall show.
So he created one. “Remember… That Time Before The Last Time,” which will begin streaming Dec. 11, is directed by Himes and written almost entirely by interns from Himes’ professional company, The Black Rep, and students from Washington University in St. Louis’ Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences.
“I wanted to do something that spoke to the epidemic of racism and to the pandemic that we’re living in now,” said Himes, the PAD’s Henry E. Hampton, Jr. Artist-in-Residence. “Every time we have one of these incidents of police brutality, we think — or at least, we hope — this will be the last time. But it just keeps going.
“After a while, it’s like, ‘Remember that time before the last time?’”
‘They don’t see …’
Structured as a series of monologues and short sketches, “Remember…” pays homage to victims of racial violence while also allowing performers to reflect on their own experiences of social protest, law enforcement, COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. But “Remember…” also includes flashes of joy, from childhood snow forts and favorite films to the births of siblings and celebrations with family and friends.
Although The Black Rep frequently archives stage productions with a single, stationary camera, “Remember…” is only the second time that Himes has helmed a multi-camera shoot (the other being a revival of the company’s “Canfield Drive” at Webster University earlier this semester).
“Remember…” filming began Nov. 7 and took place in an otherwise empty Edison Theatre. The venue seats roughly 650, but Himes and his cast of just 13 nevertheless worked hard to minimize the number of people in the room at any one time.
“We had to work out a schedule,” Himes said. “Bowles Plaza became our green room.”
Cast and crew
The WashU performers include Nick Cochran, Leah Coleman, Chloe Kilpatrick, Evan Moss, Caitlin Souers and Sarah Wilkinson.
Cast members from The Black Rep include Kentrell Jamison, Christian Kitchens, Theorri London, Brian McKinley, Tyler White, Jesmelia Williams and Christina Yancy.
Choreography is by Heather Beal, a 2018 alum. Lights, sound and videography are by Kyle Himsworth and Robert Babcock. Scenic and project design are by Margery and Peter Spack. Stage managers are by Kasey Dunaski and Joshua Sarris. Props are by Emily Frei.
“Remember… That Time Before the Last Time” will debut via the PAD website at 7 p.m. Dec. 11. The production then will be available for on-demand streaming through Dec. 27.
The event is free for WashU students. Other patrons are invited to pay what they can, with a suggested donation of $10. To receive the event link, visit the PAD website.
For more information, call 314-935-6543 or visit pad.wustl.edu.