Off Center Theatre Company began as a community theatre group in 1999. In January 2001, the company began to pay artistic and technical staff and made the switch to being a non-Equity professional theatre company. In this capacity, Off Center produced from 15 shows from Jan 2001 to May 2005. Founding Artistic Director Margeau Baue Steinau took over directorship of the company in 2005, shortly after which, in 2006, Steinau and other local artists formed the Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (SATE), under the umbrella of Off Center Theatre.
SATE began weekly training in 2005, the foundation of which is based in Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints and Tadashi Suzuki’s theatre movement methods. Viewpoints is philosophy and technique in training an ensemble using a set of names given to certain principles of movement through time and space. Suzuki method was developed from understanding ancient Greek theatre and Japanese performance styles, which emphasize physical strength and control. SATE training has also explored the Linklater vocal training technique, contact improve dance, Meisner repetition, Pilates & yoga, comedy improvisation, the Brechtian aesthetic, dialect training, and more.
The Ensemble has trained in venues across St. Louis, including, The Koken Art Factory at 2500 Ohio, Tower Grove Abbey, and finally established a residency in September 2008 at The Chapel, a music, theatre, and fine and performing arts venue in Clayton.
Since being established as an ensemble, SATE has produced Sonnets for an Old Century (December 2006), Pride’s Crossing (September 2007), Slightly Off the Air (August 2008), Primal (October 2008, nominated for a 2008 Kevin Kline Award). The 2009 season’s theme, The Year of the Roaring Woman included Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis (February 2009, a St. Louis premiere), Macbeth (July 2009, with an all-female cast), and Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls (September 2009). Heiner Mueller’s Hamletmachine (June 2010, June 2012), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (May, November 2011), Burn This (May 2012), and Lee Blessing's Eleemosynary (November 2012).
SATE returned to seasonal themes for the 2013-2014 year with The Season of the Monster, a year dedicated to exploring what it is it be a monster. The season’s productions include Nine/Sketch (August 2013) a co-production with Leverage Dance Theatre in which SATE performed Jane Sheppard’s short play “Nine,” accompanied with an original dance piece, “Sketch” choreographed by Leverage’s Assistant Artistic Director Hannah Fischer. The season continues with The Woman in Black (October-November 2013) adapted by Stephen Mallatratt based on the novel by Susan Hill; Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette (May 2014), the play about gluttony in the Seven Deadly Sins cycle. SATE concludes the Season of the Monster in Summer 2014 with an original play, Mary Shelley Monster Show by Nick Otten, based on the life of Mary Shelley and her most famous novel, Frankenstein. All productions in the Season of the Monster will be performed at The Chapel.