FST is pleased to host a free community program featuring three, female, African-American writers, presented by The Hermitage Artist Retreat. Each will read from and speak about their work, the challenges they face, and what inspires them today in our complex and sometimes irrational world; Playwright, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Poet Camille Dungy, and fiction writer Chinelo Okparanta will appear at Florida Studio Theatre’s Goldstein Cabaret on Palm Avenue at 7:30pm on Thursday, July 9

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(Sarasota, FL) — FST is pleased to host a free community program featuring three, female, African-American writers, presented by The Hermitage Artist Retreat. Each will read from and speak about their work, the challenges they face, and what inspires them today in our complex and sometimes irrational world. Playwright, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Poet Camille Dungy, and fiction writer Chinelo Okparanta will appear at Florida Studio Theatre’s Goldstein Cabaret on Palm Avenue at 7:30pm on Thursday, July 9. Please call The Hermitage reservation line at 941-475-2098 to reserve your place.

Lately there have been a lot of conversations about the inequalities faced by women, not only in corporate America, but in the art world as well,” explained Bruce E. Rodgers, Executive Director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat. “With three women artists in residence, we thought it would be interesting to have them address this topic, as well as share their award-winning work.”

FST Associate Director Kate Alexander speaks to the significance of this event stating,
“The theatre, by its very nature is in dialogue with our community. As a contemporary theatre, we have always included discussions on the plays, which address the issues of our day. For the past 5 years, we have deepened our community engagement to include partnerships with over 45 organizations. Discussion topics have included the death penalty, growing worldwide antisemitism, autism and those on the spectrum, aging, and a special focus on issues of race relations in our country and more importantly, right here at home.  With the support of national figures such as the Smithsonian’s Associate Director, Rex Ellis, Pulitzer Prize Winner Gilbert King, and local leaders such as Chief Justice Charles Williams and Commissioner Carolyn Mason, we have inaugurated model discussions that speak deeply and fully to our community.  This Artists’ talk represents the fullest aspect of those dialogues – Women who are changing the world.”

Jackie Sibblies Drury is a Brooklyn-based playwright, whose work has been produced around the country and London. Her plays have had the added benefit of being developed in such places at Sundance, New York Theatre Workshop, The LARK, Bay Area Playwrights Festival and The MacDowell Colony. She has received many awards and grants and is currently a member of The Writer’s Room at Manhattan Theatre Club.

Camille Dungy is a an award-winning poet who has authored three books of poetry, Smith Blue, Suck on the Marrow, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison. She has also co-authored and edited many other collections. Among her awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Virginia Commission for the Arts and the Dana Award. She has twice received the Northern California Book Award, a Silver Medal Winner in the California Book Award and is a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee. This year she was named one of the 10 Young American Poets Changing the Face of Poetry. Dungy is presently a professor in the English Department of Colorado State University.

Chinelo Okparanta is a fiction writer who was born and raised in Nigeria until the age of 10. She holds a BS from Pennsylvania State University, a MA from Rutgers University, and MFA from Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She received the Oliver B. O’Connor Fellow in Fiction from Colgate University and the University of Iowa’s Provost’s Postgraduate Fellowship in Fiction. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Granta (who named her one of six new voices in 2012), Tin House, The Kenyon Review and others. Among her awards are the 2014
O. Henry Award and 2014 Lambda Literary Ward for Lesbian Fiction. In 2013 she was
short-listed for the Caine Prize in African Writing.

About The Hermitage artist retreat

The Hermitage is a not-for-profit artist retreat located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood, FL. It invites accomplished painters, sculptors, writers, playwrights, poets composers, and other artists from all over the world for residencies on its beachfront historic campus. Artists are asked to contribute two services to the community during their stay and as a result, Hermitage artists touch thousands of Gulf Coast community residents with unique and inspiring programs each year. All Hermitage community programs are partially sponsored by the Women’s Exchange and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. In addition, the Hermitage awards and administers the prestigious Greenfield Prize, an annual $30,000 commission for a new work of art, rotating among three disciplines: visual art, music and drama. The Hermitage also partners with the Aspen Music Festival and School to award the annual Hermitage Artist Retreat, call 941-475-2098 or visit the website at www.HermitageArtistRetreat.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.

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