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FST Awards $40,000 In New Play Commissions


Florida Studio Theatre (FST) announces that the theatre has commissioned four accomplished playwrights, each for $10,000, to write brand new plays that share women's voices and address voting rights of the past, present, and future. These commissions are the first installments of FST's The Suffragist Project, a community-wide artistic celebration of the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote. Over 35 community partners have already committed to join FST in recognition of this monumental milestone by producing their own creative programming as part of the Project.

Commission recipients include: Jacqueline Goldfinger, Rachel Lynett, Sandy Rustin, and Mark St. Germain. These four playwrights were selected for their diverse and compelling perspectives on the project topic, along with their demonstrated ability to generate work that aligns with FST's mission: "to present theatre that challenges with as much gusto as it entertains."

"Jackie Goldfinger, Sandy Rustin, Mark St. Germain and Rachel Lynett share unique points of view, and immediately knew how they wanted to tell stories of the suffrage movement through an entertaining and historical lens," shared Catherine Randazzo, FST Associate Artist. "By choosing these four playwrights, FST's hope is to have each one leave their thumb print on the suffragists' stories."

"We wanted a diversity of playwrights to approach the women's suffrage movement from different points of view, so we sought a mix of writers to give us different perspectives," said Richard Hopkins, FST's Producing Artistic Director. "We also felt it was important that we select mostly writers who had a prior relationship with FST."

Over the next year, the four commissioned playwrights will receive support from FST's artistic staff-as well as actors, designers, and rehearsal space-throughout the new play development process. This year of work will culminate in a series of public readings during the conclusion of The Suffragist Project in August 2020. August of 2020 marks the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the women's right to vote. Each play will be considered for programming as part of FST's 2020-21 Winter Season.

"I could not have written Babel without the phenomenal artistic and emotional support of FST's Literary Department," said recipient Jacqueline Goldfinger. "FST's commitment to the artistic process, the level of expertise they brought to each workshop, and the generosity and kindness they showed me while writing this difficult material was unmatched. I've worked at many theaters, but FST is the one that feels like home."

This project marks a return to FST for playwrights Mark St. Germain, Jacqueline Goldfinger, and Sandy Rustin. Rachel Lynett begins a new relationship with Sarasota's contemporary theatre through this program.

FST has produced the World Premiere productions of Wednesday's Child (2019) and Relativity (2016), both of which are written by Mark St. Germain. FST has also produced four other productions of St. Germain's work: Freud's Last Session (2014), Becoming Dr. Ruth (2014), Dancing Lessons (2015), and The Fabulous Lipitones (2016).

FST nominated Jacqueline Goldfinger for the Smith Prize for Political Theatre, which she won in 2017 to write Babel, a dark comedy set in the not-so-far-off future that explores modern eugenics, infertility, and the ramifications of reproductive technology. This spring, Babel was part of FST's Women in Playwriting Festival that was produced in association with the National New Play Network. Goldfinger's Babel also made the 2019 Kilroys List, an annual industry survey of the most recommended un-and under-produced new plays by women, trans, and non-binary authors.

This summer, FST will produce the Regional Premiere of Sandy Rustin's The Cottage, a sexy comedy of manners. The Cottage was recently presented by Manhattan Theatre Club with Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) directing.

Rachel Lynett is an Arkansas-based playwright and theatre artist. In 2018, her dark comedy Good Bad People was part of Talk Back Theatre's Reading Series (Santa Ana, CA), and American Stage Theatre Company's 21st Century New Voices New Play Festival (St. Petersburg, FL).

These play commissions were made possible throguh the generous support of individual donors and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Two particular playwrights received named commissions: Sandy Rustin was awarded the Tom and Carol Beeler Commission, and Jacqueline Goldfinger was awarded the Jim and Susan Ogle Commission.

A full schedule of Suffragist Project events, including the public readings of the four commissioned new plays, will be announced in the fall of 2019.

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