Florida Studio Theatre Announces 2017 Burdick Reading Series

Florida Studio Theatre announces its annuAl Richard and Betty Burdick New Play Reading Series, which will present three new staged readings by contemporary American Playwrights.

The series will take place in the Bowne's Lab Theatre on Sunday, April 30 at 3:00pm, Sunday, May 7 at 3:00pm, and Sunday, May 14 at 3:00pm. It is part of FST's Sarasota Festival of New Plays. Tickets for these readings are free to attend, but reservations are required. They may be made by calling the FST Box Office at (941) 366-9000 or by visiting floridastudiotheatre.org.

Seeking to present the best new plays being written in America today, FST continues to grow their New Play Development Program each year. In theatre, the "process" is spoken of with the highest regard, as the essential component of creation. The playwright has a process that is often longer and more solitary than any other theatre artist. The process of page-to-stage often takes years of rewriting and reimagining. FST recognizes the playwright's need for process.

FST's Producing Artistic Director, Richard Hopkins speaks to the origin of this series stating, "The Burdick Reading Series has been a part of the FST New Play Development process for nearly a quarter of a century now. Richard Burdick, an old friend is now past. He was a gentleman of the theatre and a wonderful playwright himself. But his legend lives on in the continuing work of the reading series."

This series begins on Sunday, April 30 with Louie, Louie, and La Dolce Vita by Frank Higgins. 1967, Washington, D.C., Louie, a white F.B.I. audiologist, and Thalia, and African American store clerk, both love foreign films. Despite their growing infatuation, they struggle to contend with a country that has only just begun to accept their love, as well as the looming specter of Louie's boss, J. Edgar Hoover. This tragi-comedy asks us to think about what it means to be a hero, and what it is about the silver screen that frightens and moves us to this day.

Next will be Honor Killing by Sarah Bierstock on May 7. Allisyn Davis, an American reporter for the NY Times, heads to Pakistan to cover the honor killing of a young woman. Denied entrance -but armed with the most current technology- she conducts her investigation remotely from Dubai. Through a series of cultural collisions, candid interviews, and dangerous encounters she learns the horrifying details of this murder. These circumstances cause Allisyn to re-examine troubling details of her own past. One culture mirrors the other, asking questions about forgiveness, self-worth and justice.

Closing the Richard and Betty Burdick Reading Series on May 14 will be Sofonisba by Callie Kimball. Based on the Spanish Court painter Sofonisba Anguissola, this play explores the loving, sisterly relationship of Sofonisba and Queen Isabel, as well as the challenges she faced as a woman's in a man's career.

Each reading is followed by a talkback with the playwright where audience members have the unique opportunity to provide feedback. This series gives audiences the opportunity to be a part of the development and creation of exciting potential new plays here at FST.

Hopkins concludes stating, "This series has become a mainstay of new play development at Florida Studio Theatre because it is the first opportunity that a new play sees the light of an audience. It is the first opportunity for an audience to hear a play performed by professional actors. The exciting thing is that we never know what we have until the play goes in front of an audience. Then everything changes. I don't know why that is I just know that it is. It takes on a life of its own."

The series will take place in Bowne's Lab Theatre on Sunday, April 30 at 3:00pm, Sunday, May 7 at 3:00pm, and Sunday, May 14 at 3:00pm, and is part of FST's Sarasota Festival of New Plays. Tickets for these readings are free to attend, but reservations are required. They may be made by calling the FST Box Office at (941) 366-9000 or by visiting floridastudiotheatre.org.


Frank Higgins is the author of Black Pearl Sings! and The Sweet By 'n' By, the latter produced with Tony-winner Blythe Danner and then future Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow. Black Pearl Sings! was produced at FST in 2009 and went on to become one of the most produced plays in the country. His plays have been published by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French and Dramatic Publishing Company. Scenes from his play Gunplay were read on Capitol Hill prior to Congress passing the Brady Bill. He lives in Kansas City.

Sarah Bierstock's first play, Honor Killing, is the Runner up for The Woodward International Playwriting Prize and the Bridge Initiative Playwriting Contest, is a Semi-Finalist for the 2017 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the Ashland New Play Festival, Premier Stages Play Festival, PlayPenn New Play Development Conference, and was Semi-Finalist for 2016 Eugene O'Neill's National Playwrights Conference. Honor Killing will be presented this April as part of the Reading Series at Athena Theater (Denver, CO). Sarah is a proud member of AEA/SAG-AFTRA. www.sarahbierstock.com

Callie Kimball earned her MFA at Hunter College, under Tina Howe. Her plays have been produced and developed in New York, Chicago, LA, DC, at Team Awesome Robot, Halcyon Theatre, Lark Play Development Center, Drama League, The Brick Theater, Project Y Theatre, Absolute Theatre, Washington Shakespeare Company, The Kennedy Center, Mad Horse Theatre, and elsewhere. She's received a Mac Dowell Fellowship, a Playwright's Center Core Apprenticeship, a Ludwig Vogelstein grant, and the Rita & Burton Goldberg Playwriting Award two years in a row. Her play "Sofonisba" won the Clauder Gold Prize, was a finalist for the O'Neill, a semifinalist for the Princess Grace Award, and was included on The Kilroy's 2016 List.

Known as Sarasota's Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Artist, Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company then acquired the former Woman's Club building, becoming the first permanent venue. Shortly after Producing Artistic Director, Richard Hopkins arrived, the building was purchased and renamed The Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Gompertz Theatre, the Parisian style Goldstein Cabaret and John C. Court Cabaret, and Bowne's Lab Theatre.

Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the Arts Accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.

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