Storyteller's Paradise

Schools! Ⓒ2013

Directed by Ellen Sebastian Chang

80 Minutes

"SCHOOLS! an intelligent and humorous look at an African American family's 1962 attempt to integrate a nearby Kansas City white elementary school. SCHOOLS! is an autobiographical-flavored story told from perspective of a bewildered and sensitive 12 year-old. St. Louis is a gifted storyteller, and the an engaging human story of her educated middle-class family's fight with the American system of apartheid. Throughout the performance, St. Louis adeptly moves in and out of numerous characters...SCHOOLS! isn't preachy or didactic...[I]t's a well-moving historical look at one family's struggle, pain and dignity during America's very violent period of integration, performed by a powerhouse actress, artist and writer."

--Portia Anderson, SF Bay Guardian (1998)

SCHOOLS! is an autobiographical one-woman show. SCHOOLS! is the intellectual property of its author, Nena St. Louis. The rights to SCHOOLS! belong to Nena St. Louis, her heirs & assigns . The primary characters in SCHOOLS! are Ms. St. Louis and her immediate family, The Hughes H. Shanks & Dr. Lela K. Shanks family; and the story of SCHOOLS! is based on the Shanks family's actual experiences in Kansas City, Kansas during 1960-1964. SCHOOLS! was based on a scrapbook of newspaper clippings collected by Dr. Lela Shanks, Ms. St. Louis' mother, as well as interviews with Dr. Shanks.

In 1997, SCHOOLS!, premiered in the Afro Solo Festival at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco CA. The appeal of SCHOOLS! led to Ms. St. Louis being invited to perform it in local San Francisco Bay Area schools, which led to a five-year recurring residency at the University of Nebraska. In 2002, the full-length, final version of SCHOOLS! premiered at the Lincoln Community Playhouse in Lincoln, Nebraska.

During the workshopping of SCHOOLS!, the play was directed by Sharon Walton. Lee Strawn was the vocal coach. Luis Oropeza was the acting coach.The primary dramaturg for the final version of SCHOOLS! was Ellen Sebastian Chang, who also directed the play for its premiere at the Lincoln Community Playhouse in Lincoln, Nebraska. Art direction and literary coaching were provided by Nena St. Louis' husband, Michael Lewis.

The right to perform SCHOOLS! is negotiated on a case by case basis.

BIO: Nena St. Louis grew up in Denver, Colorado, Kansas City, Kansas, and Lincoln, Nebraska. She is the daughter of the late Hughes H. Shanks, a leader in the civil rights movement in the Midwestern United States and demographer for local chapter of the Democratic Party, and the late Dr. Lela K. Shanks, a nationally renowned writer, scholar, lecturer, and historian. Nena St. Louis is an actor/filmmaker and retired theater artist, who is the founder of Jump! Theatre Company and who also is a nationally known sculptor, listed in the African American Visual Artist Database. Ms. St. Louis is known internationally as a video artist/filmmaker under the pseudonym, Sylvia Toy, and she is the sole proprietor of Sylviatoyindustries' Kitchen Scenes Studio.

The thumbnail for this movie is from a poster by Michael Lewis.

I am very happy to share what I hope is a positive & uplifting experience with my online community.


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