Mustard Seed Theatre started as a series of joke theatre names (like “Not Your Mother’s Christian Theatre Company”) devised by Deanna Jent and Kelley Ryan as they shared coffee and dreams. Deanna had a stack of scripts she liked but couldn’t get produced elsewhere – and they all revolved around issues of faith and social justice. She also wanted her theatre students at Fontbonne to have professional theatre internships and experience.
As an experiment, Deanna pulled together an informal staged reading of a Craig Wright play called Grace – she told a few friends, who told some of their friends, and suddenly a group of about thirty people appeared to listen to this script and wrestle with the difficult questions of faith presented by the play. The intense discussion that followed the play reading led Deanna to a crazy idea: a professional company in residence at Fontbonne University – a company that would produce plays about faith and social justice and would offer internship opportunities to Fontbonne theatre students.
Calling on a valued colleage, Deanna explained this idea and asked him: “Do you think there’s an audience out there for a theatre like this?” Her colleague thought, then sadly shook his head “No.”
And that was the moment she knew. Her heart said, “Yes, there is.”
And the next day she got a phone call from a Fontbonne alum, asking “What new projects are you thinking about for next year? I’d like to support you financially if you’ve got anything exciting planned.”
And so in the Fall of 2007, Mustard Seed Theatre began its first season.