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Lynn Nottage (Playwright) is an American Pulitzer Prize winning playwright whose work often deals with the lives of African Americans and women. Born in Brooklyn in 1964 to a schoolteacher and a child psychologist, Nottage attended New York’s High School of Music and Art. Inspired by school productions of Annie and The Wiz, she penned her first play, The Darker Side of Verona, which told the story of an African American Shakespearean company. Nottage is a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, and a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2007. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009 for Ruined.
Her best-known play is Intimate Apparel, co-commissioned and produced at Baltimore’s Center Stage (where it premiered in February 2003) and South Coast Repertory. It was highly acclaimed in its Off-Broadway production in 2004, starring Viola Davis. She wrote a companion piece to Intimate Apparel, the OBIE award winning Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine, which is set 100 years later. The West Coast premiere of her Crumbs from the Table of Joy, at South Coast Repertory, earned two NAACP Theatre Awards for performance. Nottage’s latest play, Ruined, dramatizes the plight of Congolese women surviving civil war. It premiered in November 2008 at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, and transferred to New York at the Manhattan Theatre Club.
She has been awarded playwriting fellowships from Manhattan Theatre Club, New Dramatists, and the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Richard Hopkins (Artistic Director/Director) Since his arrival at FST in 1980, Mr. Hopkins has guided the theatre from a small touring company to a nationally recognized regional theatre, which impacts over 160,000 adults & children annually. He has directed more than 40 productions in FST’s three theatres. He has worked at numerous regional theatres including Capital Repertory, Blowing Rock Theatre, TheatreWorks Palo Alto, The Players of Columbus, Delaware Theatre Company, Long Island Stage, and many others. Mr. Hopkins began his professional theatre career as a resident actor with the Asolo State Theatre in Sarasota, Florida. He was a founding director of what is now American Stage Company in St. Petersburg and served as its Producing Director from 1974-1980. Mr. Hopkins has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University. He has served as a Theatre Specialist for the U.S. Department of State to Cairo and Amman, and taught at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. He served as the President of the Florida Professional Theatres Association from 1983-1985. He served on the Theatre Panel for the Florida Arts Council. Mr. Hopkins is the recipient of numerous awards including the Arts Leadership Award from the Sarasota Arts Council & the Richard G. Fallon Award for Artistic Excellence from the Florida Professional Theatre Association.
Kate Alexander (Assistant Director) Ms. Alexander is the Associate Director of FST. In this capacity, she ministers to the artistic needs of the theatre and its many community and state educational programs. On the FST stages some of the plays she has directed are Bridge & Tunnel, Shirley Valentine, …and L.A. is Burning, Pure Confidence, Underneath the Lintel, The Miamians. Wit, Proof, Lobby Hero, Ten Unknowns, The Exonerated, Brooklyn Boy as well as the company developed pieces, the Playmakers and Under Six. Ms. Alexander has created a vast Education Program for FST, and co-developed the award-winning Write A Play program touching the lives of over 55,000 children annually in the US, Scotland, Israel, Russia and China and serving as a model for theatres throughout the nation. Ms. Alexander has also pioneered an acting training method for children which serves as the foundation for the FST school, serving 600 children yearly. Ms. Alexander has also been a resident actress with Florida Studio Theatre for the past 20 years. Some of her leading roles were seen in the plays: Golda’s Balcony, Master Class, The Play about The Baby, The Goat, Filumena, Three Tall Women and most recently, Edward Albee’s Occupant. Ms. Alexander is the recipient of numerous acting, directing and public service awards.
Alice M. Gatling (Mama Nadi) heralds from Houston, TX where she has recently been seen in Doubt and To Kill a Mockingbird at the Alley Theater; Caroline, or Change at Main Street Theatre and the world premiere of Black Pearl Sings! at Stages Repertory Theatre. Her other Alley credits include The Exonerated, Our Lady of 121st Street, The Crucible, A Christmas Carol, From the Mississippi Delta and Antony and Cleopatra. She was recently seen in Nickel and Dimed at Stages Repertory Theater and Intimate Apparel at Main Street Theater. She also directed The Colored Museum. She has been a company member at People’s Light and Theatre Company and a member of the Lincoln Theater Center Director’s Lab in New York. Her East Coast credits include Julius Caesar (Marc Antony), The Lives of Great Waitresses (OOBR award), The C Above C Above High C (National Black Theater Festival), Much Ado About Nothing, A Flea in Her Ear, and As You Like It, among others. Alice was last seen at FST as Pearl in last season’s Black Pearl Sings!.
Stanley W. Mathis (Christian) Broadway: Oh Kay!, Jelly’s Last Jam, The Lion King, Charlie Brown, Kiss Me Kate, Wonderful Town. Regional: Animal Crackers (The Goodman Theatre), Death of a Salesman (Yale Rep), Radio Golf (Kansas City Rep), Gem of the Ocean (Seattle Rep), Fences (Bristol Riverside Theatre), Master Harold and the Boys (Triad Stage), Blues for an Alabama Sky (Cleveland Playhouse). TV: Late Night with Conan O’Brien, SNL, Law & Order, Criminal Intent. Film: Dark Streets, Santa Baby, Brother to Brother. Karibe!
Bianca Sams (Sophie) was born in Berkeley, California. A recent graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, she has earned the distinction of being Tisch’s first ever Triple Major [Acting, Dramatic Writing (Play and Screenwriting)] with a minor in journalism (undeclared). She studied at the acclaimed Strasberg Film Institute as well as RADA in London, England. She is very happy to be a part of this wonderful production. She thanks God for allowing her to pursue her dreams, and her family and friends for their support. She is honored to be amongst such an amazing cast.
Stephanie Weeks (Salima) is delighted to be playing Salima in Ruined in her first production at FST. Regional Credits include: Belle in A Christmas Carol Actors Theater of Louisville. Beth in A Christmas Carol at the American Conservatory Theater. Off-Broadway: Long White Beard in As Yet Thou Art Young and Rash and Socrates in Dinner Party Dir. David Herskovits (Target Margin Theater). Film: Confessions of a Ex-Doofus Itchy Footed Mutha Dir. Melvin Van Peebles (Tribeca Film Festival 2008). Other Credits: WNYC RADIO, Summer Play Festival 07’ (NYC), The Workshop Theater, Take Wing and Soar. Training: MFA from The American Conservatory Theater and Attended the The London Academy of Music and Drama.
Ashley Bryant (Josephine) is pleased to be making her FST debut. New York credits include: In the Cypher (produced by The Nuyorican Cafe’ ) Cornbury: The Queen’s Governor (Theatre Askew); Obama Drama (Creative Destruction); Regional: Shelia’s Day (Crossroads Theatre Company and The Market Theatre in South Africa) King John (Shakespeare and Company). Other credits include: Romeo and Juliet; Baal; Marat/Sade; Marcus: or the Secret of Sweet; In the Red and Brown Water; Godspell; Children of Eden; Agamemnon; The Darker Face of the Earth. Ashley would like to thank her family for their support. BFA: University of Utah (Actor Training Program) MFA: Yale School of Drama.
Ron Siebert (Mr. Harari) Ronald last appeared at FST playing the part of Carl in the highly acclaimed production of Opus, directed by Richard Hopkins. Ronald has worked professionally in more than 40 theatres across America playing a wide range of parts including the title roles in: Macbeth, The Misanthrope, Titus Andronicus, and Lamarck. On Broadway he appeared in the award-winning The Changing Room and with James Earl Jones in The Iceman Cometh at The Circle-In-The-Square Theatre. He also spent a year touring in the first national company of M. Butterfly.
Freddie Bennett (Kisembe) is a 2006 Graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. A South Florida native, he now lives in New York City. Freddie’s latest work includes Casca in The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festivals production of Julius Caesar and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with The Pulse Ensemble Theatre. Ruined is his first production with Florida Studio Theatre of which he is extremely honored to be apart. Thank you all for the opportunity to play!
Lawrence Evans (Osembenga) has appeared in numerous plays, Off Broadway, regionally, and nationally, as well as commercials. He trained at Jackson State University and the University of Michigan. Some regional credits include Take Me Out (Caldwell Theatre Company), Fences (Arkansas Rep as “Bono” and Charlotte Repertory as “Lyons.”), A Soldier’s Play (Arkansas Rep) and Home (North Carolina Black Rep). National Tours: The Sweet Spot, Camp Logan. Television: Another World, All My Children, Ryan’s Hope, As the World Turns, Law & Order (all three), Conviction. Film: State Property II, The Devil Wears Prada. European Tours: Heritage, Glory Gospel Singers.
Khalil Muhammad (Fortune) is a native of New Jersey and he began pursuing his acting career in 2004 with his stage debut as Cougar in Happy Birthday Madam Alberta (Cherry Lane Theatre). Some of his other theatre credits include Six Degrees of Separation, A Soldier’s Play, The Religious Hour and A Soldier’s Death. He recently shot commercials for both Guinness and Charter Communications. Some of his independent film roles include The Rubix, The Gallery and Gifted. Khalil received professional actor training from the William Esper Studio, NYC. Khalil thanks his family & friends for their continued support and the entire FST family for this great experience--blessed by the Creator!
Segun Akande (Simon) Most recent works: Sex and the City 2 & on stage, The Poet, where he earned Honorable Mention distinctions for Outstanding Actor in the Chester Horn Festival. You can also see him in Loose-Fish, starring Francesco Quinn and Chris Bauer. Graduate of Duke University where he played football for the Blue Devils. Segun thanks FST, cast & crew, NYC Council Member Dan Garodnick, family & friends. firstname.lastname@example.org. Become a whistleblower for peace in Congo at www.fallingwhistles.com.
Thomas Williamson II (Soldier) is a Sarasota native who has graced the stage with his ability to electrify the crowd with song and dance in Musical Theater. Thomas has starred in shows such as Dreamgirls, 5 Guys Named Moe, Once on This Island, The Wiz, A Soldiers Play, and many more. Thomas has also shared the stage with renowned artists such as American Idol’s Syesha Mercado, Pebo Bryson, Melba Moore, Hattie Winston and more! Thomas is glad to be back once again with Florida Studio Theatre.
Kelvyn Bell (Guitar) is the composer in residence for The Classical Theatre of Harlem in NYC. Winner of the 2009 AUDELCO Award for Outstanding Musical Direction for Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe. He has also toured and recorded internationally with jazz greats Lester Bowie, Arthur Blythe, James Carter, Maceo Parker, Defunkt, and Steve Coleman. Mr. Bell is the leader of the avant-funk band, Kelvynator. He is honored to be a part of this historic play at FST.
Julian Christian (Drums) is making his FST debut! He is a musician from Philadelphia and has played drums since he was a child, starting out on his Grandmother’s pots and pans. He also plays the piano. Julian has been a musical director for many productions in Philadelphia such as the No Name Play, The Christmas Musical, and he also produces his own music and has a band in Philadelphia who is on the rise. Julian feels very blessed to have an opportunity to perform in Sarasota and thanks God for all his blessings.
Production Manager...........................................Bruce Price
Company Manager.............................................MaryMartha E. Ford
Production Stage Manager.................................Kelli Karen
Costume Designer..............................................Nicole Wee
Scenic Designer.................................................Bob Phillips
Lighting Designer...............................................Michael Foster
Sound Coordinator.............................................Brian Thompson
Dialect Coach....................................................Ginny Kopf