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Florida Studio Theatre Announces National New Play Development Initiative

Florida Studio Theatre Announces National New Play Development Initiative

Florida Studio Theatre has announced the launch of The Playwrights Project, an artistic initiative employing 32 of the country's top playwrights, sketch comedy writers, and musical theatre developers. With funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), FST has hired these artists as full-time staff writers. The material generated during this time will be considered for future production in FST's Mainstage, Cabaret, Sketch Comedy, and Children's Theatre programs.

"The Project was conceived within the first few days of the theatre shutting down due to COVID-19," said Richard Hopkins, FST's Producing Artistic Director. "FST, like the rest of our nation, was brought to a sudden standstill. Three days after closing the theatre, I had a revelation about Shakespeare-he, like every good artist, instead of following the dark and writing about the plagues of his time, took the road less traveled and followed the light. He wrote, without judgment, about the wonder of humankind. Which made me think that now is the time for FST to inspire the creation of plays. To ask playwrights to write like Shakespeare and reveal humanity's complexities without judgment.

"FST is serving as a light during this uncertain time," said Sandy Rustin, an actress and award-winning playwright participating in the Project. "I am beyond grateful for FST's continued and ongoing support of me and my work. I cannot express how much it means to me-especially now."

"I'm honored to be a part of this Project," shared Carole J. Bufford, one of the most in-demand young performers in New York's cabaret and jazz scene. "It is a blessing to have work at all during such a tumultuous time. Knowing that FST has brought together so many artists to create new works is equal parts thrilling and comforting. Art will always prevail. We need it to challenge our minds, to escape our reality, to delight and take joy in, to celebrate the past, and to forge a new path into the future."

Florida Studio Theatre is partnering with theatres across the country to bring new plays to fruition. Arizona Theatre Company's Artistic Director Sean Daniels (The White Chip, The Haunted Life) will collaborate with FST's artistic staff to develop Tampa, following two brothers who, though they are bound by blood, take different paths through life.

Thomas Gibbons (Permanent Collection, Bee-luther-hatchee), the playwright in residence for Philadelphia's InterAct Theatre Company, will work with Kate Alexander, FST's Associate Director At-Large, on a new play exploring the dilemmas that arise with the prevalence of digital manipulation.

In conjunction with FST Associate Artist Jason Cannon, Mark St. Germain (Relativity, Dancing Lessons), an Associate Artist at Barrington Stage Company, is developing a historical drama about the real-life meeting of Frederick Douglass and John Brown before Brown's attack on Harper's Ferry during the Civil War.

Kenneth Jones, a New York-based playwright, librettist, and lyricist, will also join forces with FST's Kate Alexander to create an original play about a family business in Southern America that is at a crossroads.

"My play, Alabama Story, was slated to have three productions in Spring 2020," said Jones. "Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Those productions were scuttled and resulted in a profound and immediate loss of income for me. It felt like a miracle when FST offered me the chance to work on a new script."

In addition to working as staff writers, Playwrights Project artists will enhance FST's online educational offerings by leading workshops, tutorials, and contributing to virtual classes. The artists will also participate in online forum discussions and special Q&A sessions with small invited audiences.

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