With 47-years of history, FST’s five-theatre campus is chock-full of stories, little-known-facts, and hidden gems from the past. Whether you’ve been subscribing season after season for years, or are newer to FST’s community, we invite you to test your knowledge of Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre! Keep reading for some fun facts that even our biggest fans may be surprised to learn…
A PIECE OF HISTORY
Did you know that FST’s Keating Theatre building is the oldest continually-operating public structure in Sarasota?
The building’s life started back in 1914 as the home of the Sarasota Woman’s Club. For 61 years, it served as the hub for countless charitable campaigns, social celebrations, and entertainment events. It even served as Sarasota’s first public library until 1941!
When the Woman’s Club moved to new lodgings in 1976, their clubhouse was scheduled for demolition. Ms. Marian McKenna, a prominent supporter of the arts, couldn’t see that happen. So, she swooped in, bought the building, and donated it to Florida Studio Theatre the following year.
There are at least three places around the building nodding to its history – a hidden cornerstone, a historical marker, and an honorary plaque. Have you spotted them all?
THE WRITING ON THE WALL
FST’s Green Room Café & Bar has been serving theatergoers for almost ten years. You may have gotten a drink or have dined in our lobby restaurant before a show dozens of times. But even for FST regulars, it’s easy to miss the faint message scrawled on the wall above the Green Room: “Vox Populi.”
Latin for “Voice of the People,” these two words were added to the east wall above the Green Room during the Hegner Theatre Wing’s renovations in 2012.
While perhaps only the most observant audience members may notice this subtle message, it serves as an everlasting reminder of FST’s commitment to the Sarasota community for those who do.
One component of FST’s mission is “to create a public forum for the issues of our day that will foster positive change in our community and beyond.”
You find forums everywhere you go at FST. Our five stages are forums. Our bustling Box Office lobbies are forums. And our on-site restaurants, like the FST’s Green Room Café & Bar, are forums where the voice of the people has a home.
THE HAT IN THE HALL
No, the hat hanging outside the Keating Theatre entrance does not belong in the Lost & Found. It’s a tribute to the Theatre’s namesake.
Ed Keating was born in Chicago in 1921 and was a Master Sergeant in the Army Air Force in World War II, earning a Bronze Star Medal for his achievements and service while in combat.
After the war, he joined the family business – EKCO Products Corp., the world’s largest manufacturer of non-electronic housewares at one point – and moved to Sarasota in 1982.
A dedicated philanthropist, Keating supported countless arts, social services, and educational organizations for over 20 years, including Florida Studio Theatre.
“Until his last few years, he didn’t want to be acknowledged; he preferred to give anonymously,” said Richard Hopkins, FST’s Producing Artistic Director in a 2005 Sarasota Herald-Tribune article following Keating’s passing. “But then I think he reached a point where he did start thinking of his legacy, and he wanted to be an example to others, to inspire them to give at whatever level they could.”
And for all his generosity and commitment to the community, we felt that Ed should always have a place to hang his hat here at FST.
THE CAT ON CAMPUS
Did you know that FST has a Feline-in-Residence? If not, say hello to Kander!
As one of FST’s most senior company members, her duties include greeting the staff each morning, daily campus patrol, and keeping watch even after the final curtain closes each night.
Named after American composer and musical theatre treasure John Kander (of Kander and Ebb), our sassy theatre cat randomly wandered onto FST’s campus several years ago…and simply never left.
She may not have a subscription, but Kander has certainly stolen our hearts.
The next time you visit FST’s downtown Sarasota campus, keep an eye out for Kander, the message on the wall, and other interesting finds! Share what you discover with us on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts. We’d love to follow along with your theatrical journey!