FST to Open 'Write A Play' Season with ANDROCLES AND THE LION, Begin. 9/24

By: Sep. 04, 2013
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Florida Studio Theatre's WRITE A PLAY season will kick off in the Keating Theatre with Androcles and the Lion by Aurand Harris and Glenn Mack. Directed by Associate Artist, Jason Cannon, performances begin in the Keating Theatre on Tuesday, September 24 and will play through November to more than 11,000 students from Sarasota and Manatee County schools.

Autumn mornings at Florida Studio Theatre begin with the arrival of bright yellow school buses on the FST Campus. The sound of hundreds of young children's excited chatter echoes throughout the lobby and into the theatre. This production lights the path for young writers of the future, inspiring them to write their own plays for submission in FST's annual Young Playwright's Festival in the spring.

Androcles and the Lion, the story of a slave who befriends a Lion, is a refreshingly antic, irreverent treatment of Aesop's fable, written in the style of Italian Commedia Dell 'Arte. A group of players set up the stage and give a performance capturing many of the Commedia's stock characters: the miserly Pantalone, the bragging Captain, the romantic Lovers, the trickster, and the endearing Lion. This centuries-old tale is one of the most popular children's plays ever written, with its enduring themes of freedom and friendship.

Director Jason Cannon says, "The classic fable of Androcles and the Lion has been retold many times, in many different ways including plays, films and storybooks. This is because its themes of friendship, trust and equality continue to resonate for audiences of all ages - not just children. It's important to produce plays that are full of great characters, but also lessons and morals. With the use of Commedia Dell 'Arte which began in 16th century Italy, the audience will instantly recognize the stock characters and be able to relate them to people in their lives.

The cast will be the FST debut of members of the 13-14 Acting Apprentice Company. This includes Patrick A. Jackson in the role of Androcles, Zach Shotwell as The Lion, Matt Ebling as Lelio, Maggie Langlais as Isabella, Dean Bowden as Capitano, and Dan Higgs as Pantalone. The creative team includes set and costume designer April Soroko.

Androcles and the Lion will begin September 24 in the Keating Theatre, and play Monday through Friday at 9:45am, 11:00am, and 12:15pm. Tickets are $6 and can be purchased through FST's WRITE A PLAY Manager, Jennie Cole, at 941.366.9797.


Since 1991, WRITE A PLAY, an arts-in-education initiative, has introduced thousands of students to professional theatre and provided them with the skills and motivation to create original plays. High energy, interactive performances, workshops and long-term residencies inspire children's creativity, bolster their communication and literary skills, and instill in them an appreciation of the arts. Students are encouraged to write from their own point of view and in doing so, they create diverse plays such as No War Can Tear Our Love Apart, a touching tale of the love between a father and daughter, and Tuna Trouble, a comedic story of three cats trying to reach the top shelf in the laundry room for tuna.

Now in its 22nd year, the WRITE A PLAY program reaches over 55,000 students each year in Florida, Scotland, Russia and Israel. Since the inception of WRITE A PLAY, this unique program has impacted more than one million children. Teaching children to write, FST's WRITE A PLAY program has not only inspired young creative minds, it has also increased reading and writing scores in the program's participants.

The core of the WRITE A PLAY program is its three-play series: Androcles and the Lion sets the example of a well-made play; the PLAYMAKERS Tour: Imagination Celebration, travels across the state of Florida during the winter months teaching children to write plays; and UNDER SIX: The Land of Yes!, the compilation of winning plays submitted to FST's Young Playwrights Festival.

The WRITE A PLAY year culminates with a celebration of all the young playwrights' hard work and creativity with the Young Playwrights Festival in May. Last year, winning playwrights, honorable mention winners ages 7-17, and their guests, including educators, traveled from around Florida and as far away as Dunfermline, Scotland to view a special presentation of their original plays and receive their awards. Some came from big sprawling campuses with hundreds of students and others came from small one-room schools. Many came from big cities and some from small towns.


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