FST's Playwright Collective More Than Doubles In Size, Developing New Work For Sarasota's Contemporary Theatre

FST's playwright collective, a select group of artists developing new work for fst's stages, more than doubles in size.

By: Oct. 26, 2020

FST's Playwright Collective More Than Doubles In Size, Developing New Work For Sarasota's Contemporary Theatre

Florida Studio Theatre has announced that its Playwright Collective, a targeted coalition of artists dedicated to developing new work for FST's stages, is welcoming seven new members.

Originally launched in August 2017, FST's Playwright Collective has become a key part of the contemporary theatre's New Play Development program. Since its launch in1983, FST's New Play Development program has resulted in more than 30 World Premieres and 89 Regional Premiere productions at FST.

In early May, FST launched The Playwrights Project-an artistic initiative employing 33 of the country's top playwrights, sketch comedy writers, and musical theatre developers. With funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), FST hired these artists as full-time staff writers for eight weeks, each creating new material to be considered for future production at FST.

The theatre's investment in these artists did not stop when The Playwrights Project came to a close in mid-June. After demonstrating a connection to FST's mission to "present theatre that challenges with as much gusto as it entertains," seven playwrights were invited to join the theatre's Playwright Collective.

FST gives Collective members the opportunities, resources, and creative feedback needed to develop new plays from inception to production. Throughout the process, artists receive support from FST's creative team and have the chance to collaborate with other Collective members. Additionally, they serve as guest teachers with The FST School, participate in forum discussions with FST patrons, and help mentor early career playwrights.

"We treat each artist as an individual-not some faceless word processor," said FST Associate Artist Jason Cannon. "The playwright will, at various times, need encouragement, resources, provocative notes, kindness, and deadlines. We must have the courage to invest in them, while releasing our expectations, so that the playwright has the space to surprise and surpass."

"These writers are crafting plays featuring a diversity of voices and sharing a range of experiences that will speak to a living, breathing, fully-engaged Sarasota audience," said Richard Hopkins, FST's Producing Artistic Director. "They've created more than a dozen new plays that are headed for production."

Collective playwrights are currently working on a wide spectrum of plays-from a bilingual adaptation of Frankenstein created for young audiences, to a Mainstage drama exploring the clash between reason and faith, to a play about a Florida family facing environmental disaster and a spiritual crisis during the Great Depression.

The seven newest additions to FST's Playwright Collective are Deborah Brevoort (Women of Lockerbie, My Lord, What A Night); José Casas (la ofrenda, somebody's children-both winners of AATE Distinguished Play Award); Jeffrey Couchman (Three Wise Guys, Author of The Night of the Hunter: A Biography of a Film); Sean Daniels (The White Chip, Artistic Director of Arizona Theatre Company); Kate Hamill (Pride & Prejudice, one of the most-produced playwrights nationwide-2017-2020 Seasons); Rachel Lynett (Well-Intentioned White People, FST Suffragist Project Commissioned Playwright) and Sandy Rustin (The Cottage, FST Suffragist Project Commissioned Playwright).

Other Collective members include Sarah Bierstock (Honor Killing, Mothers & Daughters); Thomas Gibbons (Permanent Collection, Bee-luther-hatchee); Jacqueline Goldfinger (Babel, FST Suffragist Project Commissioned Playwright); Kenneth Jones (Alabama Story, Two Henrys); Jason Odell Williams (Handle With Care, Church & State) and Mark St. Germain (Wednesday's Child, FST Suffragist Project Commissioned Playwright).