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Conversations with Matthew R. Kerns

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew R. Kerns. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Matthew R. Kerns, MFA. President & Artistic Director. St. Lou Fringe.

Matthew is a John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts award-winning educator, critically acclaimed theatre performance artist featured in American Theatre Magazine and a 2020 St. Louis Business Journal Diverse Business Leaders Award recipient.

Matthew has been an Executive Producer, Director, and Artistic Director for Off-Loop Theatre [Chicago], Off-Broadway Theatre [New York], Reparatory Theatre [California], Regional Theatre [Iowa, Missouri, Colorado], and Educational Theatre [Chicago, California, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri].

Matthew’s artistic portfolio includes original performances [Xmas Carol, Chicken, Life in the Fastlane], Immersive events [Gay Fantasia, Home], and standard plays and musicals [Noises Off, For Colored Girls… Frost/ Nixon]

Students that have trained with Matthew have gone on to work in television, film, major motion pictures, and on Broadway. From Saturday Night Live to Gotham, and from Six: The Musical to Jake, the State Farm Guy, and beyond.

Matthew is an expert in the performance practices of Stanislavsky, Meisner, Grotowski, Somatic Movement, Improvisation, Roy Hart Vocal Technique, Moment Work, and Viewpoints. He has presented at the NAIS Conference, National Writing Conference for Youth, Missouri Conference on the Younger Years, TCG National Conference, and TEDx.

Matthew holds an Associate degree in Communications and Theatre from St. Louis Community College, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Eastern New Mexico University, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Naropa University.

He married the love of his life, Mr. Sean Gottlieb, in a simple service under St. Louis Arch in April of 2020. They reside in the Lafayette Square neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri with their dogs Lewis, Harvey Milk, and Tuxedo the Cat.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The main obstacle in my work is my standing in my own way.

Among time, life, and deciding which idea is the “right” one to run with, overall, making artwork and being vulnerable to the general public is hard and scary, even after all these years, and is an epic obstacle in my artistic life.

That’s why as the President and Artistic Director of St Lou Fringe I am such a steadfast advocate for independent art-makers who bravely put their work and hearts out there daily online, onstage, in film, and beyond.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
St Lou Fringe builds community by nurturing diverse independent artists and producing a world-class multidisciplinary annual festival where we champion uncensored work, connect work-makers to audiences, and educate and engage the local, regional, and global cultural communities around the work of independent arts.

As President and Artistic Director. I run the day-to-day operations of the business and steer the artistic vision of the organization. As 2020, St. Louis Business Journal, Diverse Business Leader Award Winner, I ensure that the organization is working in everything it does for equity, awareness, and cross-cultural elevation of stories.

STLFringe FESTIVAL will be sharing our stages this year with trans artists, drag artists, LatinX artists, and many more. STLFringe celebrates the stories of the rainbow and works to help everyone better understand each other making our region a better place to live, work, and play.

STLFringe FESTIVAL is known for actively seeking shows from disparate voices, enhancing diversity through invitation, curation of companies, performers, and shows. This work helps represent the broad ethnic, racial, and gender identified, and our culturally diverse community.

Artists from across the sixteen-county region, include St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Jefferson, Madison, St Charles, and St. James to name a few. I am most proud that we have nurtured and produced over 400+ shows for stage, film, and walls that span regional theatre to Off-Broadway in our eleven-year history.

What sets us apart from others across the region is gatekeeping. We don’t censor work at the STLFringe FESTIVAL. You can express yourself in whatever way works best for your vision artistically. The only time we ever step in is if work crosses into hate speech.

Further, STLFringe FESTIVAL pulls 60% of the works for the lineup from a blind lottery, making the opportunity truly equitable.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
A mentor is a great touchstone for your career. When I am stuck and just need a sounding board my mentors are always amazing. I also have mentors for different pieces of my work: business, art, leadership, etc.

As a certified mentor myself, I believe in helping the participant find their strength. I am happy to guide anyone along their path and believe by walking with you and elevating you on the journey the outcomes become clear… and yours… not some idea I gave you.

To find a mentor, decide what you want to learn, and research who you want to learn it from… then reach out to them and ask them if they are open to the possibility of working with you. Honest connection and action are amazingly powerful and work wonders.

I like to think of it this way, “The worst they can say is yes.”


  • $45.00 – Matthew Coaching
  • $25.00 – STLFringe FESTIVAL Tickets
  • $15.00 – STLFringe FESTIVAL Tickets
  • $10.00 – $2500.00 Month St Lou Fringe Membership
  • $500.00 – $15,000.00 St Lou Fringe Sponsorship

Contact Info:

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