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Fund to support local theater offers chance to hang out with Jon Hamm, Sterling K. Brown and more

Local thespians who have gone on to become household names nationwide – John Burroughs graduates Jon Hamm, Cory Finley and Beau Willimon; MICDS graduate Sterling K. Brown; Washington University graduate Sam McMurray and playwright/screenwriter Sam McMurray – know the value of St. Louis’ small professional theater scene. It’s where many of them got their start and the reason why, on any given night, theatre enthusiasts can find a high-quality show to attend.

That was until the coronavirus pandemic shut down live theater. Today, local theaters are among the small businesses that are struggling to survive. Additionally, local and regional arts commissions announced recently that 2021 funding will be small to non-existent.

Enter the Small Professional Theatre Sustainment Fund – and the generosity of theater patrons and the aforementioned stars of stage and screen.

William Roth, founder and artistic director of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio, established the fund to help struggling theaters keep the stage lights on.

By simply donating to the fund, participants are automatically entered into a drawing to win a virtual hangout with Brown, Hamm, McMurray, Willimon, Finley or LaBute, a longtime friend of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio.

Clockwise from left: Sterling K. Brown, Jon Hamm, Cory Finley and Beau Willimon.

For every $75 donated to stlas.org/sustain, the participant’s name will be placed into a drawing for 50 chances to win. The more a person donates, the better their chances are for winning. The winner will be drawn on Sept. 17.  

During the virtual meet-up, the winner will be able to discuss anything of interest with the artist – from acting tips and insights to fans just wanting to spend a little quality time. For official rules and regulations, visit the FAQ page. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

About the Participating Artists

Actor Jon Hamm is a John Burroughs graduate best known for his Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning role on “Mad Men.” He will star in the upcoming film “Top Gun: Maverick” in theaters this winter. See Jon Hamm’s video message here: https://vimeo.com/427780482

Sterling K. Brown is a graduate of MICDS and recent Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner for his work on NBC’s smash hit “This is Us.” See Sterling K. Brown’s video message here: https://vimeo.com/429676164

A graduate of Washington University, character actor Sam McMurray has appeared in “Freaks & Geeks,” “Friends” and “Raising Arizona.”

Director and screenwriter Cory Finley is another John Burroughs alum. STLAS produced his play “The Feast” and he recently directed the film “Bad Education” for HBO.

Playwright, screenwriter and activist Beau Willimon is yet another John Burroughs alum, STLAS produced his play “Farragut North” (of which the movies “Ides of Mach” starring and directed by George Clooney is adapted.) He developed “House of Cards” for American television and was its showrunner. He most recently wrote the screenplay for “Mary Queen of Scotts.”

STLAS Associate and Tony Award-nominated playwright and screenwriter Neil LaBute whose films include “In the Company of Men,” “Your Friends & Neighbors,” “Nurse Betty” and “The Shape of Things.” Neil hosts his “LaBute New Theater Festival” at STLAS’ Gaslight Theater in St. Louis each fall in in NYC periodically.

About the St. Louis Actor’s Studio The St. Louis Actors’ Studio is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that was founded by William Roth in 2006 to bring a fresh vision to theatre in St. Louis. Housed in The Gaslight Theater in historic Gaslight Square, STLAS is committed to bringing engaging theatrical experiences to our community of actors, writers, producers, filmmakers and all patrons of the arts; and to provide a strong ensemble environment to foster learning and artistic expression. Through the use of ensemble work, STLAS will explore the endless facets and various themes of the human condition by producing existing and original collaborative theatre. To learn more or to make a donation, visit www.stlas.org/sustain. This program would not be possible without the generous support of Mr. & Mrs. Charles L. Barnes and John Russell. 

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