Annamaria Pileggi, Professor of Practice in Drama and Elizabeth Birkenmeier '08 team up for "Blackbird."

The show runs from February 9 - 25 at The Gaslight Theater in St. Louis and is produced by the St. Louis Actor's Studio.

Blackbird  was commissioned by the Edinburgh International Festival, where it received its world premiere.

After years in prison and subsequent hardships, Ray, fifty-six, has a new identity and has made a new life for himself, thinking that he cannot be found. Una, twenty-seven, has thought of nothing else; upon seeing a photo of Ray in a magazine, she has arrived unannounced at his office. Guilt, rage, and raw emotions run high as they recollect the passionate relationship they had fifteen years ago, when she was twelve and he was forty. Without any moral judgments, the play never shies away from the brutal truth of this abandoned and unconventional love. Una is looking for answers, not vengeance. Nevertheless, the consequences are shattering.

Annamaria Pileggi is a Professor of the Practice in Drama at Washington University in St. Louis who has been on the faculty of the Performing Arts Department since 1991. She is a five-time recipient of the University’s College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Award recognizing excellence in teaching.  Pileggi directs and teaches courses in Acting, Movement, Musical Theatre, and Theatre for Social Change. She also serves as an administrator and acting instructor for the department’s Shakespeare Globe Program in London. Pileggi has an MFA in acting from Brandeis University.  In addition to her teaching, Pileggi has directed professionally at many St Louis Theatres, including St. Louis Actor’s Studio, New Jewish, Max & Louie Productions, Onsite, That Uppity Theatre, Muddy Waters, Dramatic License, and HotCity. She was also on staff at HotCity as an Associate Director and Co-Producer of the theatre’s Greenhouse New Play Development Series from 2007 until the company’s closing in 2014.  Most recently, she joined the creative team of Young Liars.  

Elizabeth Birkenmeier received her MFA in Dramatic Writing at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2010. Her produced work includes One Extraordinary Darkness at OnSite Theatre, Jib and the Big Still  (Chicago), Barnaby (Brooklyn), and Plight of the Apothecary at Brooklyn Arts Exchange and then Off-Off Broadway at the Red Room Theatre (NY).  Her television pilot, Pope Song, was nominated for the Humanitas Prize. Her work with director Katherine Brook, American Realism, premiered at Carnegie Mellon and then was developed in residency at the Invisible Dog Theatre in Brooklyn - American Realism was remounted at the San Diego Museum of Art and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibition. Archaic Television Sex and Noise garnered a brand new award in "Gonzo Mayhem and Electrifying Low-Budget Theatricality" from The Kennedy Center, was nominated for the National Partners in American Theatre Outstanding New Play Award, a semi-finalist for the O'Neill Conference and was invited to the KCACTF Fringe Festival.  She was commissioned by Shakespeare Festival St. Louis to write Othello in a Breath and Winning Juliet as anti-bullying awareness pieces for high school students. Recently her commissioned play, There’s a Gun in Your Goodbye Bag premiered at OnSite Theatre in St. Louis.   In 2015 she was commissioned by the Performing Arts Department at Washington University to write the  Human-Robot interaction piece called SKY SKY SKY.