A Florida Studio Theatre Summer – A Personal Note from the Producing Artistic Director

As the Winter Season comes to a close, it is a time of reflection.

We had a very successful winter despite the obstacles of COVID. But now, we have mostly come through it and we are the stronger for it.

When I reflect on this past Winter Season, especially Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story and The Legend of Georgia McBride, I am reminded of how much meaning there can be in the simplest of plays. Both of these plays are about people and people who are different from the “average person.”

Pictured: Michael Perrie Jr in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. Photo by John Jones.

The character of Buddy is a different kind of musical star; he is nerdy but talented. Kind but firm about his music and how he wants to play it. And the same is true in Georgia McBride…there are many different characters. Everyone is different and that’s the point: how do we come to terms with people who are different than us? But in both plays we come to enjoy the uniqueness of the characters. We come to celebrate their uniqueness. Both of these plays show us a slice of life and from that slice, we learn about the big world filled with different people.

Indeed: When a play closes, it’s just the beginning.

Plays live on in the minds and hearts of the thousands who saw them. Plays influence beliefs. Plays influence the way we see other people. Plays influence the way we see ourselves. Plays influence the way we see our world. When a play closes, a mind opens. When a play ends, a thought begins. And now we begin a new Summer Season.

Summer has arrived and FST is shifting gears. Summer is special. The mood is different in Sarasota and our village of five bustling theatres turns to a gentler summer stock operation. The Mainstage plays seek out a bit more humor, a bit more nostalgia for days gone by, and some gentle insights into what it is that makes us human. And the pace of production literally doubles.

Students at FST’s Summer Theatre Camp (2021). Photo by FST.

All five theatres and all rehearsal halls are buzzing with excitement of young voices and the energy that comes from the hundreds of children attending our Summer Theatre Camps. We enjoy the freshness of the childlike imagination learning to act, sing, dance, and seek out the truth of what it means to be alive. Working through the summer months, with all the children around us, is a reminder to the professionals of the clarity and purity of the child-like imagination. A reminder that the child-like state is the very essence the creative professional looks for.

In addition to our vast education programs, this year we will also be producing both our Summer Mainstage and Cabaret Series, three shows each for a total of six shows for you to enjoy this summer. In addition, FST Improv will perform every weekend, plus a special guest offering or two. And our Children’s Theatre will play Off The Charts! here at home and to communities throughout the region as we seek to expand the ever-growing audience for Children’s Theatre.

Performance of Summer Children’s Theatre show, On the Road Again (2021). Photo by FST.

And if that is not enough to keep us busy for twelve weeks of summer, then add to that three new play readings, planning the 2022-23 Winter Season, working up details on the Mulva Arts Plaza – our biggest construction project to date – and all the while battling the goblins of COVID that continue to haunt the heart and soul of theatres across the country.

It’s going to be a busy summer. Summer used to be a time of slowing down. But not anymore. Sarasota has changed. We stay hard at it, and productive. Building an ever-greater theatre. And we do it for you.

Thanks for your continuing support during these tough historic times of plague and war. We know you’re feeling it too. But your continuing donations and hearty moral support is keeping the FST ship-tight and safe and secure. So, you can count on the same high quality and low prices you’ve come to expect and deserve. FST is a theatre small enough to know you, and big enough to serve you.

We hope you enjoy the plays this summer.

Richard Hopkins, FST’s Producing Artistic Director