Florida Studio Theatre Produces World Premiere Of AMERICA IN ONE ROOM

In this brand-new play, eight strangers arrive at the event, which promises discussion on a variety of topics—from immigration to foreign policy.

By: Nov. 16, 2021

Florida Studio Theatre Produces World Premiere Of AMERICA IN ONE ROOM

Florida Studio Theatre will produce the World Premiere of America in One Room by Jason Odell Williams, a fast-paced comedy inspired by the real-life 2019 convention of the same name. In this brand-new play, eight strangers arrive at the event, which promises discussion on a variety of topics-from immigration to foreign policy.

Sparks begin to fly, tempers flare, and comedy abounds. Everyone believes that they are right, but as time goes on, each person's insecurities, strengths, and values give the others in the room a glimpse into the reasons behind their beliefs. Commissioned by FST in 2020, this thought-provoking play begins playing December 8 in FST's Keating Theatre.

"America in One Room is a great snapshot of the world we are living in today because it gives an unbiased view of the many perspectives held by Americans in this time of change and transformation," said Richard Hopkins, FST's Producing Artistic Director. "The brilliant part about this play is that we get to see what these people collectively want, as well as their individual specific desires and goals."

In September 2019, over 500 American voters traveled to Dallas, TX, to participate in a respectful and far-reaching conversation about the major issues of the day at the actual America in One Room convention. Playwright Jason Odell Williams saw an article about the convention in The New York Times and was inspired to write a play about the event.

"The article covered four entire pages and had photos of many of the participants," said Williams, an Emmy-nominated producer and award-winning playwright. "Looking into all of those faces, I started wondering what they might be like. It was just fascinating to me that all these very different people who live in the same country actually came together to discuss their political opinions in a fair and respectful way."

Williams' theatrical new work inspired by the real-life event focuses on eight participants and a group moderator during one of the convention's breakout sessions, where small groups discuss topics like health care and the economy.

"These intimate conversations were meant to see if, when everyday Americans with different backgrounds actually spoke and listened to one another, face-to-face, we'd find our nation's divide isn't so vast or irreparable," added Williams. "And I believe that to be true."

This World Premiere features five returning guest artists: Almeria Campbell, Sheffield Chastain, Lawrence Evans, Sarah Stockton, and Marina Re. Campbell and Evans were last seen in FST's 2020 production of American Son. This production marks Chastain's and Re's eighth shows at FST. Stockton played Anisah in FST's 2013 production of In The Book Of and Una in Blackbird (2009).

Nicholas Caycedo, Charlotte Cohn, Lipica Shah, and Linden Tailor make their FST debuts with America in One Room. Caycedo was featured in the Off-Broadway production of Good Morning New York and In the Heights at Creede Rep. Cohn was the Lead Producer of Handle With Care and starred in the Broadway productions of La Bohème and Coram Boy. Shah has originated several roles at Manhattan Theatre Club, Mixed Blood Theatre Company, American Conservatory Theater, and California Shakespeare Theater. Tailor was featured in King Lear at New York Classical Theatre and has performed at regional theatres across the country, including Seattle Rep, Baltimore Center Stage, and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.

America in One Room was commissioned by FST in Spring 2020 as part of its Playwrights Project, an eight-week artistic initiative that employed over 30 of the country's top writers to create work for the theatre's Mainstage, Cabaret, and Children's Theatre programs. Since then, FST's artistic team has continued to work with Williams to develop this play. America in One Room was performed twice for the public-once virtually in February 2021 and once in-person as part of FST's August Play Reading Festival.

America in One Room is part of a four-show subscription package. Also included in the Winter Mainstage subscription package is the popular Rock & Roll musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, the Olivier Award-winning comedy The Play That Goes Wrong, and the Off-Broadway hit The Legend of Georgia McBride. Subscriptions for all four Winter Mainstage shows can be purchased for as little as $69, and single tickets for America in One Room range from $25-39. Subscriptions and single tickets are on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or at (941) 366-9000.

The health and safety of FST's patrons, staff, volunteers, and artists are of the greatest importance to FST. Therefore, FST will be following all CDC guidelines. The most up-to-date list of measures the theatre is taking can be found at FloridaStudioTheatre.org.