Neil LaBute's name is a byword for invigorating, vital theater, so it's little wonder that the inaugural year of the LaBute New Theater Festival featured a handful of plays that were both challenging and engaging. Is it too much to expect more of the same this year? Certainly not. Once again, LaBute helped judge the submissions (more than 250 this year), in addition to contributing a new one-act, "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush." The festival is broken in two, with half of the winners staged during the first two weeks, and the second half staged during the final two weeks. LaBute's play is the bridge that joins them, and is performed every night of the festival. St. Louis Actors' Studio presents the LaBute New Theater Festival at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (July 11 through August 3) at the Gaslight Theater (358 North Boyle Avenue; 314-458-2978 or www.stlas.org). Tickets are $25 to $30.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: July 11. Continues through Aug. 3, 2014