2019 NNPN Women in Playwriting Festival

This spring, be among the first to experience some of the top new plays from around the country right here at Florida Studio Theatre! FST’s Richard and Betty Burdick Playreading Series provides an engaging forum for new works to be heard, discussed, and developed.

August 2020 marks the centennial celebration of women’s suffrage in America. In recognition of this major milestone, this year’s Playreading Series is dedicated as the National New Play Network (NNPN) Women in Playwriting Festival. Playwrights Sarah Bierstock, Jacqueline Goldfinger, Minita Gandhi, and Lia Romeo, will join us in Sarasota in April and May for intensive play development workshops, culminating in staged readings of their fresh, new plays, that are free and open to the public.

We invite you to join us in celebrating contemporary theatre by some of the top living female playwrights of our time.


Tuesday, April 23  | 5PM
Women in the Writing World Panel
Join us for an intimate in-depth conversation with award-winning playwrights Sarah Bierstock (Mothers and Daughters, Honor Killing) and Jackie Goldfinger (Babel) as they discuss the challenges of writing, balancing creative work with family, getting your plays produced, and being a woman in the writing world. We will tackle questions about how far women have come in playwriting, as well as new challenges and opportunities female playwrights face today.

Wednesday, April 24  | 3PM
Mothers and Daughters By Sarah Bierstock
Following the death of the family matriarch, the Ehrlichs, an all-female family, gather together for the Christmas holiday. Daughters Sadie, Becca, and Stephanie do their best to manage their mother’s erratic ways while also navigating their own struggles with infertility, infidelity, and health. 

Friday, April 26  |  3PM
Babel by Jacqueline Goldfinger
A talking stork, lesbian moms, and the power to build your own baby... In this version of a near future society, prospective parents learn within the first weeks of conception which traits their child will have and what behaviors it is likely to exhibit. Based on these test results, they are either issued a PRE certification which legally guarantees the baby will be a "good" person or not. Without the certification, the child will be limited in what it is allowed to do. Two couples, both early in their pregnancies, collide over what to do with their PRE certification test results. With rapid advances in reproductive technology, modern eugenics is science’s Wild West. What will we do to “civilize” it and ourselves? How far will we go when playing God? 

Friday, May 3  | 3PM
The Forest by Lia Romeo
Juliet is losing her marriage. Her mother Pam is losing her memory. And there's a mysterious forest growing in and around their living room. Is it any wonder Juliet starts sleeping with one of her high school students? A play about weird love and what to do when there aren't any right answers. *SOLD OUT*

Friday, May 10  |  3PM

MUTHALAND by Minita Gandhi
Inspired by conversations with her parents about their life journeys, MUTHALAND tells of a young woman’s trip to India for her brother’s arranged marriage. During the trip, she unearths family secrets, encounters a prophet, and ultimately discovers her voice within a culture of silence. In this dark comedy about identity, spirituality, and sexuality, the distinction between familiar and foreign becomes blurred. *SOLD OUT*

The NNPN Women in Playwriting series is free and open to the public. Reservations are required. To reserve your seats, click the links above, or call the Box Office at 941.336.9000.

Presented as part of the Sarasota Festival of New Plays.

Do you need a ride to the theatre? Click here to find out more about our partnership with iTN Suncoast.

Sarah Bierstock (Mothers and Daughters) Honor Killing is actress Sarah Bierstock’s first play, and its WORLD PREMIERE ran for 8 weeks last spring at Florida Studio Theatre (FST) to full capacity audiences and received its second production this past September at Athena Project in Denver, CO. Honor Killing was read June (2018) at WAM Theater in West Stockbride, CT, as part of the Fresh Takes Series. In 2017, it was one of three plays featured in the New Works Reading Series at the Athena Theater, the New Play Festival at FST, and the PROJECT W Festival at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City (InProximity Theater). Sarah received an award for 2nd Runner up for The Woodward International Playwriting Prize at the University of New Hampshire earlier in 2017, where two readings of Honor Killing were conducted both at the University of New Hampshire and the 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH. Honor Killing received Honorable Mention for the Bridge Initiative Playwriting Contest: Playwright of the Year Award, was a Finalist for the 2017 Ashland New Play Festival, a Semi-Finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival (2017), a Semi- Finalist for the Premier Stages 2017 Play Festival, a SemiFinalist for the Id Theaters 2017 Playwriting Conference, a Finalist for the Hudson River Artists Playwriting Award (2017), 1 of 29 in final consideration for the PlayPenn New Play Development Conference (2017), a Semi-Finalist for 2016 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, a Semi-Finalist for Stage Left Theatre’s Playwriting Residency (Chicago, 2017) and was part of The John Drew Theater Lab at Guild Hall (East Hampton, NY). Sarah was honored to be commissioned by Center Stage (Baltimore) to participate in the “My America: She” project. She is currently working on her second play, and was honored to have the opportunity to workshop the piece as part of Florida Studio Theatre's Playwrights Collective in the Fall 2018. She is heading back down to FST this April (2019) to join FST’s Women's Playwriting Festival and will return in the spring of 2020 for FST’s Suffragists Project.

Minita Gandhi (MUTHALAND) is a playwright/actress who was born in Mumbai, India. Raised in the Bay Area, Minita cultivated an artistic home for herself in Chicago for over a decade before moving to Los Angeles, where she currently resides. MUTHALAND recently finished a West Coast run at PCPA Theaterfest in October 2018, following the sold-out run of its WORLD PREMIERE production at 16th Street Theater (Chicago), where it was extended twice before it closed at the end of October 2017. MUTHALAND was workshopped and developed in Chicago at Silk Road Rising Theater and was an official selection of the Ignition Festival of New Plays at Victory Gardens (2016), the CAATA Festival at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (2016), the Statera Foundation for Women in the Arts Conference at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (2016), the Age and Gender Equity in the Arts Symposium (2017), and has been performed at colleges and universities around the country. It was also selected for the Anne Frank Social Justice Festival at SUNY in Buffalo, NY (2017) and for The Great Performances Series at Hope College in Holland, MI (2019).

Jacqueline Goldfinger (Babel) is a playwright, storyteller, and poet. She teaches playwriting at the University of Pennsylvania. Goldfinger won the Yale-Horn Drama Prize for Emerging Playwright, Smith Prize for Political Theater, Virginia Brown Martin Award for Social Justice, Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play, and Philadelphia Critics Award for Best New Play. She has been nominated for the Weissberger Award, Blackburn Prize, and Foote Prize. Her plays include Babel (NNPN/Florida Studio Theatre Residency), Bottle Fly (The National Theatre’s New Work Studio/London, Wilma Theatre ‘s HotHouse, PlayPenn New Play Conference), The Arsonists (Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage, La MaMa, National New Play Showcase, Sewanee Writers Conference, Disquiet/Lisbon, Kenyon Playwrights Conference, Perseverance Theatre, Azuka Theatre, Capital Stage, Know Theatre, Benchmark Theatre, Thrown Stone Theatre), Click (Theatre Exile’s X-hibition Series, Emerson Stage Residency, Drama League Residency, Westport Playhouse New Works, Kansas City Rep OriginKC New Works), Skin & Bone (Azuka Theatre, Bloomsberg Theatre Ensemble, Orlando Shakespeare PlayFest, Arden Theatre Writer’s Room), Slip/Shot (Seattle Public, Flashpoint Theatre, PlayPenn New Play Conference, The Lark’s Playwrights Week), The Oath (Manhattan Theatre Works, Acadiana Rep, Last Frontier Writers Conference), and The Terrible Girls (Azuka Theatre, NYC International Fringe Festival, San Diego Playwrights Collective).

Lia Romeo’s (The Forest) play was developed at the 2018 O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference. Other plays she has written have been produced at 59E59, Project Y Theatre Company, Unicorn Theatre, HotCity Theatre, Stillwater Theatre, Renegade Theatre Experiment, Forward Flux Productions, West of 10th, New Origins Theatre Company, Jersey City Theater Center, Porch Light Productions, The Skeleton Rep, MCS Theater, Vermont Pride Theatre, and Xpressions Performing Arts Network, and have been developed at the Lark, San Francisco Playhouse, Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s PlayFest, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for the ATCA/Steinberg Award for best new play, the NYIT Award for outstanding full-length play, and has been recognized by the Heideman Award (finalist) and the Kilroys List (honorable mention). She was a 2018 Individual Artist Fellowship winner in playwriting from the New Jersey State Council for the Arts, and was the National New Play Network Emerging Playwright-in-Residence at Writers Theatre of New Jersey. She is currently a member of the Project Y Playwrights Group and a company member with InViolet Theater. She is also the Associate Artistic Director at Project Y Theatre Company and the New Play Coordinator at Jersey City Theater Center.

NNPN Women in Playwriting Festival in the News

THE OBSERVER  I  April 19, 2019  I  Don't Write off the Playwrights in the NNPN Women in Playwriting Festival

SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE  I  April 19, 2019  I  FST puts focus on female playrights in reading series

SARASOTA MAGAZINE  I  April 9, 2019  I Women Playwrights the Focus at Florida Studio Theatre

SRQ MAGAZINE I April 19, 2019  I  NNPN Festival Spotlight Part 1: Sarah Bierstock