Florida Studio Theatre Kicks Off Young Playwrights Festival with UNDER SIX

Florida Studio Theatre Kicks Off Young Playwrights Festival with UNDER SIX

Florida Studio Theatre has announced the opening of UNDER SIX, marking the commencement of the Young Playwrights Festival (YPF). This world premiere production is made up of plays written by children in grades K-6 selected from the plays submitted by more than 3,000 young playwrights. Directed by FST's Director of Education Beth Duda, professional actors carefully weave together this collection of plays with reverence to the written word of their young creators. Approximately 12,000 students from Sarasota and Manatee Counties are bused to the theatre to see the work of their peers.

The Young Playwrights Festival is part of FST's WRITE A PLAY program. The WRITE A PLAY program is an arts-in-education initiative that reached more than 55,000 students and teachers last year alone. It has introduced thousands of students to professional theatre and provided them with the skills and inspiration to create original plays. WRITE A PLAY is a three-part program that introduces students to professional theatre and provides them with the skills and motivation to create original plays through high-energy, interactive performances and workshops. First, students see a children's theatre production at FST (this year, Androcles and the Lion). Then, they work with FST teaching artists and the Playmakers tour to learn to write their own plays. Students may then submit their own plays to the Young Playwrights Festival for consideration.

Once the plays have been read twice, the top 100 are identified. Here, the plays go under the final scrutiny of the literary and educational departments. Of the selection process Duda stated,"Selecting the plays for Under Six and Seven Up is a wonderful challenge. Each year, I marvel at the creativity and heart the students so willingly share. Their writing is powerful and pure. From plays of great humor to adventure stories, to plays that show us the painful realities of life, these writers move us and illuminate their world for us."

Once the plays are selected and the winners and their educators notified, the Artistic team begins rehearsals to present the plays. The actors and director of the UNDER SIX program prepare to bring these distinct and unusual plays to life on the stage, with the addition of set, costumes, light, sound and music. The rehearsal process takes place over a two-week period during which the artistic team investigates the underlying messages and motifs of each piece. For the SEVEN UP program, young playwrights at the middle and high school level receive a full professional staged reading of their play. The WRITE A PLAY program culminates with the Young Playwrights Festival during which the winning plays are presented and the young playwrights are honored with an award ceremony.

The Young Playwrights Festival Awards Ceremony and special performances will be presented this year on Saturday, May 10th. Educators, families, winners and artists convene at the theatre to preview the plays and celebrate the winners. Duda further states, "It is such an honor to be part of the creation of these "mini masterpieces". To give the children a forum for what they think and feel is so very important. Can you imagine what is must be like? To be 9 years old and take the time to put ideas from your imagination on paper....then, have a team of twenty adults take what you say seriously. They stage your work, and then it's seen by over 12,000 students. Wow! I love that I get to be a small part of that magic." Information about tickets and specific show and event times will be available at a future date.

About Florida Studio Theatre: Known as Sarasota's Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company eventually settled down into a permanent home, acquiring the former Woman's Club building - now renamed the Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the renovated Gompertz Theatre, the Goldstein Cabaret, the John C. Court Cabaret, and Bowne's Lab Theatre.

Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. Under Richard Hopkins, Artistic Director and CEO, FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.

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