(Sarasota, FL) — Florida Studio Theatre is pleased to announce the appointment of two senior staff positions. Jim Sorensen takes on the role of Associate Managing Director and Caroline Kaiser joins the staff as the Director of Children’s Theatre. This exciting staff expansion is in direct response to the tremendous growth seen at FST in the last few years. Now reaching over 200,000 people a year, FST warmly welcomes both of these theatre professionals aboard the staff.
As Associate Managing Director, Mr. Sorensen’s responsibilities include Senior oversight of FST’s fundraising department, education department, and the WRITE A PLAY tour. In addition, he is taking on the role of community liaison for FST with many local organizations such as the Downtown Sarasota Alliance and The Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. The Associate Managing Director provides a central channel of communication and activity between these department heads and the Managing Director’s office.
For the past five years, Sorensen has served as the Managing Director of Freefall Theatre in St. Petersburg, FL. He has spent the last 20 years as an itinerant actor/techie/administrator. As an actor, he’s performed on stages from Alaska to Florida, from New York to California, and at least 38 states in between. From 2000 through 2004, Jim was the Managing Artistic Director of the Music of Denali Dinner Theatre in Denali, AK, and spent the latter part of the decade in New York City as an actor.
Managing Director Rebecca Hopkins speaks to the positive steps forward that this new addition to staff will create. “I am very excited to welcome Jim Sorensen to FST. I feel very confident in his ability to take on a leadership role within our organization. As FST has grown, the need for more senior oversight has grown. It is very important that our department heads and staff are getting the support and direction they need from my office to continue to serve our audience. By consolidating some of my direct reports under Jim it will allow for the departments to function more nimbly and effectively.“
Sorensen commented on his newly appointed position stating, “As the Associate Managing Director of FST, I’m looking forward to continuing to learn and grow with this dynamic, exciting theatre. FST focuses on the intimate relationship between the actor and the audience, something I’m passionate about. Theatre should affect you viscerally, and you don’t get that from the 76th row. I’m also glad to be part of an institution that is nationally recognized, and yet is still so connected with the community. Sarasota is known as an arts city, and that’s due in large part to the contribution of this theatre through the years.”
Kaiser will oversee FST’s WRITE A PLAY and in schools programming. A producer, educator, casting director, and actor, she joins the staff with an extensive background in Theatre for young audiences. Straight from New York City, she previously served as the Associate Artistic Director of Theatreworks USA, one of the nation’s largest theatres for young and family audiences. As an educator, she has taught on the high school and college level and until recently was adjunct faculty for the theatre department of City College in NYC. Caroline has also been the Casting Director on over fifty touring, regional, and New York productions. A Pittsburgh native, she holds a degree from Point Park University in Musical Theatre. In addition to her work in Children’s Theatre she is passionate about arts education, exposure, and engagement.
“I am thrilled to join the team at the Florida Studio Theatre,” said Kaiser. “After visiting Sarasota, I was inspired by the community of artists at FST. Their dedication to making challenging and entertaining theatre rivals the best organizations in the country. I was also overwhelmed by the incredibly supportive audiences. I met so many patrons who told me about why this theatre is personally important to them and their families. I knew instantly this theatre and town was where I wanted to be.”
To meet the needs of the Children’s Theatre program, it is a future goal of FST to also hire a Director of Education. This position will oversee adult, senior, and youth education programs on campus and in satellite locations throughout Sarasota and Manatee Counties.
Artistic Director Richard Hopkins speaks to the expansion and growth possibilities of the Children’s Theatre Department in the coming season stating, “My expectations are that now with the addition of these two full time education positions, we will further expand our reach into the community through the schools and the public partners of FST. It is our goal to grow the WAP program in schools as we plan for next year’s institution of a public platform for children and their families on FST’s stages.”
Kaiser further commented on her future goals as she takes her place in FST’s Children’s Theatre department. “I’m a firm believer that going to the theatre should be a family experience. After all, the theatre in the plainest of terms is storytelling, and everyone loves a good story. I will continue to uphold FST’s long tradition of creating exceptional programming for young audiences at an affordable price. In our upcoming seasons it is my hope to expand our quality programming and to extend our outreach to as many children as possible. It is my goal to make the Florida Studio Theatre the premiere place for children and families to experience the magic of live theatre.”
About Florida Studio Theatre
Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by 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 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.