Old Friends and New Voices: The Sarasota Festival of New Plays

By Meg Gilbert

As Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, New Play Development is at the core of FST’s programming. FST’s annual Sarasota Festival of New Plays is dedicated to presenting fresh theatre by some of the top living playwrights of our time.

The Richard and Betty Burdick Play Reading Series presented as part of the Festival provides a platform for works in progress to be heard, discussed, and workshopped. Many seasons, one new work in progress presented as a staged reading at FST’s Annual Sarasota Festival of New Plays makes the leap to our Mainstage.

Recent plays that originally came to us through the Richard and Betty Burdick Play Reading Series include Wednesday’s Child by Mark St. Germain (2019) and Honor Killing by Sarah Bierstock (2018).

August 2020 marks the centennial celebration of women’s suffrage in America. In recognition of this milestone, this year’s Burdick Play Reading Series will be dedicated as the National New Play Network (NNPN) Women in Playwriting Festival.

Sarah Bierstock, Minita Gandhi, Jacqueline Goldfinger,and Lia Romeo will each join us in Sarasota for intensive play development workshops, culminating in public staged readings.

Kicking off the 2019 Series on April 25 is Babel by Jacqueline Goldfinger. In this version of a near future society, prospective parents learn within the first month of conception which traits their child will have and what behaviors he or she is likely to exhibit. Based on these test results, they are either issued a PRE certification which legally guarantees the baby will be a “good” person or not.

Following Babel is The Forest by Lia Romeo on May 3. Juliet is losing her marriage. Her mother, Pam, is losing her memory. And there’s a mysterious forest growing in and around their living room. The Forest is a play about weird love and what to do when there aren’t any right answers.

Closing out the series on May 10 is MUTHALAND by Minita Gandhi. The life of a young woman is forever changed on a trip to India where she unearths family secrets, encounters a prophet, and ultimately discovers her voice within a culture of silence. The familiar and the foreign swap roles in this dark comedy about culture, identity, spirituality, and sexuality.

Keep an eye on our website for tickets as we launch into another exciting season of fresh work, old friends, new voices, and artistic strides here at your home for contemporary theatre.