Florida Studio Theatre to Continue 'For the Ages' with LAST RIGHTS
FST presents the World Premiere Stage III production of Last Rights. This second chapter of the For The Ages project, takes a deeper look at death and the issues we all face when our final time approaches. Assembled by Jason Cannon and based on interviews, transcriptions, and research conducted by FST Staff and Interns, this production will run for a limited engagement from September 7 - 11. Tickets may be purchased online at FloridaStudioTheatre.org, by phone at (941) 366-9000, or by visiting the Box Office.
Everyone dies, and the issues surrounding this incontrovertible fact range from moral, political, and cultural to legal, medical, and financial. What has come clear is that most people aren't necessarily afraid of death, but how they are going to die. Last Rights explores the various rituals humanity has built around death, and digs in to the difficult questions surrounding end of life, such as DNR, death with dignity, assisted dying, hospice; How we as a culture and a species define mercy, pain, and compassion.
Last season's Stage III production of Old Enough To Know Better examined various aspects of aging. One of those aspects that most resonated with both our interviewees and our audience was end of life. Created from hundreds of interviews and stories told by real people in our community, Last Rights takes a sharp and sometimes laughing look at death and dying with dignity.
Director and leader of the project Jason Cannon speaks to this specific method of playwriting stating, "The documentary theatre format is another way for FST to fulfill its mission of making theatre accessible to as many people as possible. Accessibility isn't just about price or logistics; it is about the content and themes of the stories represented on our stages. By going out into the community and listening, we find stories that we know inherently matter to our audience. We find stories that rarely receive a platform for public hearing. By transforming these stories into theatre, we enable people to see themselves on stage in new and powerful ways. With a topic as emotionally charged as end of life, the documentary format enables us to create a safe and inclusive public forum to foster positive change in our community, another core tenet of our mission."
The For The Ages project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. FST's Stage III Lab programming will be presented Bowne's Lab, in the space for all things experimental; Pieces that really get to the grit of the creative process and bring audiences face to face with the magic of raw, live theatre.
"Conducting these interviews and digging in to this research has been a roller coaster," said Cannon of the emotional impact this play had on his creative and personal growth. "These stories thankfully, and upon reflection necessarily, relied upon humor just as much as pathos. Humor can be used both as a defensive mechanism against pain and loss, and also as the 'spoonful of sugar' that enables us to approach that same pain and loss in constructive and healing ways. The humor of the people I spoke with was deeply instructive. Not just in terms of my internal wrestling with the topics, but in terms of how I needed to approach the construction of the play. It may sound counterintuitive at first, but this play is striped with humor and laughter."
Last Rights will run for a limited engagement in Bowne's Lab. Performances are on September 7 at 7:30pm, September 8 at 7:30pm, September 9 at 7:30pm, and September 11 at 2:00pm. Tickets may be purchased online at FloridaStudioTheatre.org, by phone at (941) 366-9000, or by visiting the Box Office.
Every day our American culture seems to put more and more value on youthfulness and the young, and every day ageism becomes a more and more serious and pressing issue.
Under-reported cases of need from natural disasters like floods and hurricanes, belated dangers of hormone therapy, navigating the complex medical industry, hiring and work practices, accessibility, and the general stigmatisms and fear of dementia - these are all issues that many of our aging audience members face on a daily basis. As opposed to reaching out to our seniors to get them in to see our plays, with this project we aim to flip the paradigm and take those seniors out of our theater seats and put them and their lives on stage. By doing so, we are creating a theatrical event that can serve as a conduit for conversation, understanding, and social change.
The FST staff has been hard at work interviewing members of the Sarasota community. These stories have come together in the next step of the For The Ages Project, Last Rights, as the subject of death and dying with dignity is explored and exposed. The goal of this approach is to reverse the paradigm of how theatre is created. It will not be a lone playwright's observations, but rather a complete community effort where everyone, young and old, is given a voice.
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.