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The Hermitage Artist Retreat invites you to join them on Friday, June 1st at 7:00 pm to hear Kennedy Center Teaching Artist Reggie Harris and Playwright Sarah Gancher share their work on the beach bordering the Hermitage campus, 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood. Kennedy Center Master Teaching Artist Reggie Harris travels the country teaching American history through song in our nation’s schools.  He will share and explain many secret code songs used by runaway slaves and their allies during the time of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. With his guitar in hand, he will sing traditional songs of the Freedom Train. Playwright Sarah Gancher is at the Hermitage writing a play for the Asolo Repertory Theatre.  She will share a scene or two from her recent work. Gancher’s writing has been seen on stages across the US and internationally, including London’s National Theatre, Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, Steppenwolf, The Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, Seattle Rep, Hartford Stage and Round House. Visitors should bring their beach chairs, blankets and any refreshments to enjoy during the program and can plan to stay to enjoy the 8:19 sunset. Hermitage community programs are free but reservations are required in case the program needs to move indoors where space is more limited. To reserve your place simply email [email protected].

“This should be an outstanding program,” remarked Hermitage Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers. “Not only will we be entertained by these talented artists, we will come away learning something about history and about working in live theater. Please make your plans soon to attend and be ready to interact and enjoy two sensational artists.”

A songwriter of great depth and passion, Reggie Harris writes from a personal sense of mission that life, though often challenging, is filled with possibility and hope. His songs cover topics from his own personal journey to world issues and history. As a committed educator, Harris is an engaging lecturer with a particular skill for leading effective and inspirational educational exchanges. He has been affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program for over two decades, offering both multimedia performances for students and communities, as well as in-depth workshops for educators at all grade levels. His writing, research, field work and recordings have amassed an amazing repertoire of African American music, blending spirituals and freedom songs, the old with the new. His music and storytelling create captivating performances that raise awareness from the historical, cultural base of the Underground Railroad and the Modern Civil Rights Movement, to stories that frame the rich context of our American past and present.

Sarah Gancher is a playwright who loves epic stories, big ideas, and deep comedy. Her most frequent subject is how history is reflected in individual lives. Internationally acclaimed, her plays have been produced or developed at London’s National Theatre, Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, Budapest’s Quarter6Quarter7 Festival, The Public, New York Theater Workshop, The Atlantic, Steppenwolf, Seattle Rep, and Hartford Stage, among others. She has been a Time Warner fellow at the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, and a writing fellow with The Playwrights’ Realm. Among her many awards are the New York Stage and Film Founder’s Award, the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, the AR Gurney Prize, the Clifford Odets Ensemble Play Commission, Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Award and residencies from the Hermitage, Jewish Plays Project, Tofte Lakes, and SPACE at Ryder Farm. She has been a playwright-in-residence at Budapest’s Quarter6Quarter7 Festival, which presented Hungarian language staged readings of three of her plays. She has worked behind the scenes at The Colbert Report, The Metropolitan Opera Guild, The Big Apple Circus, and Norway’s Stellapolaris, among others. A talented jazz violinist, Sarah has played in groups from New Orleans to Budapest.

Both artists are acclaimed musicians, writers, and entertainers,” Rodgers continued. “This will surely be a program that will stay with us for more than one amazing night.”

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.  Hermitage community programs are sponsored in part by the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts and Culture and the State of Florida (Section 286.25, Florida Statutes), and the Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenues. For more information about The Hermitage Artist Retreat, call 941-475-2098 or visit the website at www.HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

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