Fly brings the conversation to the community
(Sarasota, FL) — Florida Studio Theatre presents the regional premiere of Fly, by Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan opening on Friday, February 6 in the Gompertz Theatre. Along with this powerful production, FST also brings conversations of brotherhood, history, and civil rights to the community with the Fly Forums Project. The Forums will allow dialogue to continue in many venues after the play, including an on-line forum and three panel discussions. Panel discussions will take place in the Gompertz Theatre from 5:00 – 6:15pm on February 11, 26, and March 12 with varying topics. For a full schedule please see the end of the release. FST is also holding an online discussion at www.fst-blog.com with guest writers. Panels are free to attend but reservations are required and can be made by calling the box office at 941-366-9000 or online at www.floridastudiotheatre.org.
Fly is a powerful story of the fight and flight for freedom both abroad and at home. It follows four African-American military pioneers from training through WWII. Proving themselves as officers and pilots, they paved the way for desegregation of the American military. It’s a true tale of brotherhood, acceptance, and equality.
Over 45 community leaders and organizations have helped paved the way to continue the conversation. Each panel discussion will also be live streamed to Sarasota County libraries and to ABC7. In addition, ABC7 will have a forum page as well providing multiple points of access to continue the discussion on race, civil rights and veterans, all themes in the play. Sarasota also has three of the original Tuskegee Airmen in residence that are involved in the project. They are George Hardy, Marion West, and Frederick Douglas Williams.
Instrumental in planning the panel discussions and events surrounding the production is Kate Alexander, Associate Director of FST, and the Forums Director. She states her excitement saying, “Along with the Chair, Judge Charles Williams, Dr. Ed James II and the steering Committee, we have built on the last few years’ progress. The feedback we are getting is that people feel safe to speak at the theatre and confident to continue the dialogue. Meaningful dialogue doesn’t happen in one session with a catchy program title. Real dialogue is hard, and it is built by forging a respectful relationship over time. This authentic relationship with our community is paramount to all of us and we are only just beginning.”
Artistic Director, Richard Hopkins, states why this production is a vital element of the Mainstage season saying, “Fly is an extraordinary piece of theatre. The story is first rate and as true as an arrow.
Presenting a historic view of how World War II African Americans (Tuskegee Airmen) overcame overt racism to become heroes to all races. It is a story of inspiration for all Americans.
Leading the steering committee for Fly is FST’s Associate Director and Forums Director Kate Alexander. Other committee members include Committee Chairman, The Honorable Judge Charles E. Williams, Judge Mayor Willie Shaw, Tom Tryon, Opinion-Editor Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and Trevor Harvey, Director Sarasota NAACP, with special counsel from Dr. Ed James II.
Fly community partners include: Behavioral Health & Social Service Providers, Bookstore 1 and Georgia Court, City of Sarasota Mayor’s Office, Embracing Our Differences, Florida Veterans of Common Sense, Genesis Health Services, Sy & Shelley Goldblatt, The Herman and Sally Boxser Diversity Initiative,
Dan and Litten Boxser, Political Strategist Ed James, III, Author Gilbert King, Devil in the Grove, Manatee Educational Television (METV), Artistic Director and Manager Charles Clapsaddle, Author Todd Moye, Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, Multicultural Health Institute, Dr. Lisa Merritt, NAACP, Ringling College of Art and Design, Ringling Museum of Art, Executive Director Steven High, Sarasota/Manatee Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, Sarasota County Libraries, Director Sarabeth Kalajian, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota Historical Center, Sarasota Ministerial Association, Sarasota Public Defender Larry Eger, WWSB ABC7, and Vice President of Broadcast and General Manager Jeffrey S. Benninghoff.
Fly panel discussions will take place from 5:00 – 6:15pm in the Gompertz Theatre on February 11, 26, and March 12. Join the online conversation by visiting www.fst-blog.com. Panels are free to attend but reservations are required and can be made by calling the box office at 941-366-9000 or online at www.floridastudiotheatre.org
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.
Fly Partnering Events:
Panel Discussions: 5:00pm – 6:15pm in the Gompertz Theatre
- Discussion #1: February 11 – Double V: World War II and Sarasota 1941- 1945
- Discussion #2: February 26 – Civil Rights in Sarasota Today
- Discussion #3: March 12 – Veterans of Color
Additional Supporting Events:
- Feb. 6th – Online Forums Launch – Join the Discussion at FST-blog.com
- Feb. 11th | Bookstore 1 Luncheon on Freedom Fighters 11:00AM-2:00PM
Court Cabaret Theatre
- March 22nd | Pay What You Can Night 8:00PM
ompertz Theatre – Sponsored by Sy and Shelley Goldblatt
- February – March |Weekly Post-Show Discussion
- February – March: Ringling Museum will present never before seen photographs of African American WWII soldiers
HAIRSPRAY – November 12 – January 11
DANCING LESSONS – December 10 – February 27
FLY – February 4 – April 4
CHAPATTI – April 8 – May 30
WITH THE PRIMA DONNETTES – October 22 – February 5
AMERICAN PIE – December 31 – April 23
AND OTHER LIFE LESSONS FROM VAUDEVILLE – February 18 – June 7
OUT OF BOUNDS MATCH UP – October 18 – January 3
WRITE A PLAY
RAP-Punzel – September 23 – November 14