December 9, 2015 - March 5, 2016 | Gompertz Theatre
By Richard Strand. The Civil War, 1861. An escaped slave seeks sanctuary, but the laws of the land are unrelenting. With sharp wit and tongue-in- cheek humor, Butler takes us on a journey through legal loopholes to find the true meaning of freedom. REGIONAL PREMIERE!
Butler is also part of the Dialogues on Diversity series which includes panel discussions centered around the themes of the play. To learn more about upcoming panel discussions, click here.
Director | Jason Cannon
Stage Manager | Rebekah Small*
Scenic Designers | Isabel & Moriah Curley-Clay
Costume Coordintor | Donna Riggs
Lighting Designer | Richard T. Chamblin III
Dialect Coach | Eric Zivot
Cast (in order of appearance)
General Benjamin Butler | Eric Hoffmann*
Lieutenant Kelly | Joe Ditmyer*
Shepard Mallory | Shane Taylor*
Major Cary | Jim Sorensen*
* Denotes member Actors’ Equity Association. The Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
ERIC HOFFMANN (General Benjamin Butler) A New York based actor, director, and teacher, Eric most recently appeared as Bob Ewell in Orlando Shakespeare’s To Kill A Mockingbird. He also recently completed an amazing 3-year run as Officer Krupke in the 50th Anniversary World Tour of West Side Story. His regional credits include appearances at Florida Studio Theatre in last summer's Over the River and Through the Woods. at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre (3 seasons), Theatre Virginia, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, McCarter Theatre, and the St. Louis and Alabama Shakespeare Festivals. He spent nine seasons at Washington DC’s Shakespeare Theatre as a company member and instructor and his nine seasons with The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey include appearing as Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Don Armado in Love’s Labours Lost, and Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing. He has made numerous Law and Order appearances and is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.
JOE DITMYER (Lieutenant Kelly) is thrilled to be part Butler at FST. Most recently, Joe played Dr. Sanderson in Harvey starring Charles Shaughnessey. His NYC theatre credits include: War Uncensored, Faustus, Moses My love, Mim, and A Case is Never Closed. Metropolitan Opera: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and Carmen. National Tours: Shear Madness (Eddie), Damn Yankees (Joe), and Shenandoah (James). Film and Television: The Family, Blackest Days, Dead Souls, The International, As the World Turns, Law and Order SVU, and Area 51 Declassified. Joe is a graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, NYC.
SHANE TAYLOR (Shepard Mallory) is happy to be back at FST after appearing in last seasons production of Fly. Off-Broadway: In White America (New Federal Theatre) In New York: Romeo and Juliet (Lincoln Center Institute), The Desire (The Billie Holiday Theatre), The Love Talker (NYC Fringe Festival). Regional: Premiere Stages, Luna Stage, Roundhouse Theater, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Amphibian Productions, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Berkeley Rep, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. TV and film credits include: God’s Forgotten House, King of the Bingo Game (PBS), Sarbane’s Oxley for which he earned the Best International Actor award at the 2007 Barbados International Film Festival, and numerous appearances and voice overs in national commercials.M.F.A., Rutgers University.
JIM SORENSEN (Major Cary) FST stage debut! Off-Broadway/New York: The Body Beautiful, Plain & Fancy (York), Miracle on 34th Street (Engeman), Plagued: A Love Story (NYMF). Regional: The 39 Steps, A Few Good Men (Flat Rock Playhouse), Into the Woods, Thoroughly Modern Millie (Fulton), Les Miserables (Arts Center of Coastal Carolina). Florida: South Pacific, 1776 (Asolo),Time Stands Still (Banyan), The Buffalo Kings, Cabaret, Becky Shaw, The Burnt Part Boys (freeFall), The Rocky Horror Show (American Stage), and The Blue Room (Stageworks). 2012 BOTB Best Actor, 2014 TTB Outstanding Featured Actor. A proud member of Actors’ Equity, Jim is also the Associate Managing Director at Florida Studio Theatre. Much love to my beautiful wife, Natalie. www.jimsoren.com
JASON CANNON (Director) is an Associate Artist at Florida Studio Theatre (FST), where his responsibilities include New Play Development, supervising the Acting Apprentice Program, teaching in Adult Education, and directing and acting in various productions. His performance at FST last season as “Ever Montgomery” in Dancing Lessons garnered him “Best Actor of 2015” awards from both Sarasota Magazine and the Herald-Tribune. He is a seven-time Kevin Kline Award nominee (and one time winner for Outstanding Leading Actor), an alum of DirectorsLab Chicago, co-founder of the GreenHouse New Play Festival, co-founder and former Board President of the Professional Theatre Council of St. Louis, and former Producing Artistic Director of Ozark Actors Theatre. He holds an MFA in Directing from Lindenwood University, an MA in Drama from Washington University in St. Louis, and a BA in Theatre and English from Greenville College. Proud member of SDC, AEA, and SAG-AFTRA.
REBEKAH SMALL (Stage Manager) is excited to be back at Florida Studio Theatre! Her NY credits include: Trojan Women, Single Room Occupancy (NYC Fringe), and Summertime. Her Regional Credits include: Hairspray, Tom Jones, Taking Shakespeare, The World Goes ‘Round, Too Darn Hot, Spamalot, Let’s Twist Again: With The Wanderer’s, and Urban Cowboys.
MORIAH & ISABEL CURLEY-CLAY (Scenic Designers) Past work at Florida Studio Theatre includes One Man, Two Guvnors, Hound of the Baskervilles, Inspired Lunacy, Taking Shakespeare, Hairspray, Dancing Lessons, and Chapatti. Favorite recent credits include Scenic design of Detroit ’67 (Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre), and Murder Ballad (Actors Express). Isabel and Moriah are the recipients of five Suzi Bass Awards and several Critic’s and regional awards, are Resident Scenic Designers at Atlanta’s Horizon Theatre, Artistic Associates at Theatrical Outfit and members of IATSE, United Scenic Artists 829.
DONNA RIGGS (Costume Coordinator) Local costume and clothing designer, Donna Riggs, is excited to bring her talents to the FST production of Butler. She has designed and styled wardrobes for movies, (Dinesh D’souza’s America, Gena Rowlands in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks) national commercials (Honda) and created costumes for business branding, mascots, Cosplay, and theatrical use for her not-for-profit production company called, Saturday Night Out, Inc. Donna is also an award-winning illustrator and graphic designer.
RICHARD T. CHAMBLIN III (Lighting Designer) is a proud member of the United Scenic Artists Local IATSE 829. His New York and Off Broadway credits include Forever Cunard: Queen Mary 2 Light Show in New York Harbor, The Inn at Lake Devine, Story Pirates: Summer Gala, Intimacy Idiot, Under the Radar Festival, Henry VI, The Other Guy, This is NOT the Play, The Only Child, and All the Way from China. Richard also works with several regional theaters which include: The Goodspeed, The Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Two Rivers Theatre Company, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, and Long Wharf Theatre. Richard is also the Senior Lighting Designer at Luce Group, an architectural, museum, and themed entertainment lighting design firm. Luce Groups clients include The Smithsonian Institute, Sea World Parks and Entertainment, and Universal Studios Orlando.
ERIC ZIVOT (Dialect Coach) is currently an Associate Professor of Performance at Rollins College. His Voice experience runs the gamut from Voice-Overs, Looping and ADR to dialect and text coaching for such theaters as the Stratford Festival of Canada and the American Conservatory Theater. At ACT he served as the Head of Voice and Speech training while coaching numerous productions. His previous FST credit was dialect coaching The Hound of the Baskervilles earlier this season.
RICHARD STRAND (Playwright) Richard Strand’s career as a playwright began in 1976 when he wrote his first play, Harry and Sylvia, which was eventually adapted into the full-length version called Clown. Two of his plays, The Bug and The Death Of Zukasky published by Dramatists Play Service, Inc., premiered at the Actors Theatre at Louisville’s Humana Festival. He currently lives in California with his wife, Mary Lynn. He is a professor, technical director, and set designer at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, where he teaches Stagecraft, History of Theater, and Playwriting.
“Humorous spin on History“
“Deep sense of humanity”
“You’ll come away from Butler both intrigued and entertained”
“A pleasant surprise”
“Clever wordplay and comic escalations”
"A war of words and wit"
“Very, very funny”
“Believable and often hilarious”
“Fortified with hilarious comedy”
“More than typical in a history play”
“This play’s got everything”
“As comic as it is cogent”
“Very funny comedy”
“Real characters, sharp debate”
Dialogues on Diversity Series
Florida Studio Theatre presents Dialogues on Diversity. This call to conscience will include several discussions as well as events and exhibits from various community partners. Participating organizations include ABC 7, Embracing Our Differences, the Sarasota County Public Libraries, the Jewish Federation, the Sarasota Ministerial Association, the Ringling Museum, and many more. These events will all coincide with FST’s hit production, Butler and upcoming productions of My Name is Asher Lev and Alabama Story. 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. For a full list of events, please see below.
Panel #1 - Insights and Inklings - Butler Panel Discussion
Join us for a discussion as we explore one of the most horrendous laws in American history, the Fugitive Slave Act. Moderated by Chief Judge Williams with special guest panelist, Dr. Brendan Goff, Assistant Professor of American History, the themes of slavery, contraband, and the legal theory of Butler will all be explored. Moderated by Chief Judge Williams with guest Dr. Brendan Goff, Assistant Professor of American History.
Jan. 21st, 5:00-6:00pm – Keating Theatre
Panel #2 – The Masks We Wear - Butler Panel Discussion
Moderated by Chief Judge Williams guest Dr. Eddy Regnier and cast members Shane Taylor and Eric Hoffmann.
Feb. 18th, 5:00-6:00pm – Keating Theatre
Panel #3 – The Roots of Hatred - My Name is Asher Lev Panel Discussion
Mar. 31, 5:00-6:00pm – Keating Theatre
Panel #4 – Hot Topics of Today: Banned Books and Other Literature - Alabama Story Panel Discussion
Moderated by Opinion-Editor Tom Tryon with guests Sarabeth Kalajian, Director of Sarasota County Libraries & Historical Resources; Edward James III, political strategist; Georgia Court, Owner of Bookstore 1 Sarasota, and Dr. April Flakne, Associate Professor of Philosophy.
Apr. 28th, 5:00-6:00pm – Gompertz Theatre
Panel #5 – Moral Citizenship: A Call to Conscience - Alabama Story Panel Discussion
Moderated by Chief Judge Williams with guest Dr. Robert M. Franklin, President Emeritus of Morehouse College and Director of Religion at the Chautauqua Institution.
May. 19th, 5:00-6:00pm – Gompertz Theatre
Dialogues on Diversity Events
Dec. 8th | Butler: Final Dress Rehearsal for Invited Guests 8:00 PM | Keating Theatre
Dec. 11th | Butler: Opening Night 8:00 PM | Keating Theatre
Dec 15th | Luncheon and Round table with Richard Strand
Dec 16th | Plays That Matter: Discussion with Richard Strand 5:00 PM | Bea Freidman Room
Jan 5th | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award playwriting workshop Provided by the Housing Authority of Sarasota and the Roy McBean Boys and Girls Club 4:00-5:00 PM
Jan 7th | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award playwriting workshop Provided by the Housing Authority of Sarasota and the Roy McBean Boys and Girls Club 4:00-5:00 PM
Jan 9th | Racial Justice Discussion from Trinity Episcopal Church Hosted by St. Wilfred Episcopal Church
Jan 11th | Online Forum Discussion at www.fst-blog.com Join the Conversation with guests Chief Judge Charles E. Williams, Circuit Judge of the 12th Judicial Court; Dr. Robert Franklin, President Emeritus of Morehouse College and Director of Religion at the Chautauqua Institution; Gilbert King, Pulitzer-Prize winning author; Carolyn Mason, Sarasota County Commissioner; Elizabeth Gelman, Executive Director at The Florida Holocaust Museum; and Shane Taylor, cast member of Butler
Jan 11th | Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America Twitter Campaign Launch
Jan 12th | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award playwriting workshop Provided by the Housing Authority of Sarasota and the Roy McBean Boys and Girls Club 4:00-5:00 PM
Jan 14th | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award playwriting workshop Provided by the Housing Authority of Sarasota and the Roy McBean Boys and Girls Club 4:00-5:00 PM
Jan 16th | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award playwriting presentation The Roy McBean Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota County 2:00 PM
Jan 21st | Insights and Inklings - Butler Panel Discussion Moderated by Chief Judge Williams with guest Dr. Brendan Goff, Assistant Professor of American History 5:00-6:00 PM | Keating Theatre
Jan 21st | High school performances begin: Butler with post-show discussion 10:00 AM | Keating Theatre
Jan 21st | Preparatory discussions on Butler available at Sarasota County schools led by Chief Judge Williams
Week of Jan 25th | METV Broadcast of Panel Discussion
Jan 27th | McIntosh Ministerial Luncheon Hosted at the Jewish Federation 11:45AM – 1:00 PM
Jan 28th | Butler: Post-show discussion Facilitated by Chief Judge Williams and Director Jason Cannon Immediately Following Show | Keating Theatre
Jan 28th | High school performance: Butler with post-show discussion 10:00 AM | Keating Theatre
Feb | Preparatory discussions on Butler at Sarasota County schools led by Chief Judge Williams throughout the month of February
Feb 1st | A Message From Our Pulpits: Diversity in Action Sarasota Ministerial Association’s constituent churches and synagogues dedicate the month of February to speaking on race issues
Feb 4th | Butler: Post-show discussion Facilitated by Chief Judge Williams and Director Jason Cannon Immediately Following Show | Keating Theatre
Feb 11th | Butler: Post-show discussion Facilitated by Director Jason Cannon Immediately Following Show | Keating Theatre
Feb 18th | The Masks We Wear - Butler Panel Discussion. Moderated by Chief Judge Williams with guest Dr. Eddy Regnier and cast members Shane Taylor and Eric Hoffmann 5:00-6:00 PM | Keating Theatre
Feb 18th | High school performance: Butler with post-show discussion 10:00 AM | Keating Theatre
Week of Feb 22nd | METV Broadcast of Panel Discussion
Feb 24th | High school performance: Butler with post-show discussion 10:00 AM | Keating Theatre
Feb 26th | An Evening With Morehouse School of Medicine President Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice and Ambassador, Andrew Young 4:30 PM |Keating Theatre
Feb 26th | High school performance: Butler with post-show discussion 10:00 AM |Keating Theatre
Feb 27th | Pay What You Can Night Sponsored by Sy & Shelley Goldblatt
Pre and Post-show speeches by Steering Committee members Mayor Willie Charles Shaw, and President of Sarasota County NAACP, Trevor Harvey 8:00 PM | Keating Theatre
Mar 3rd | Butler: Post-show discussion Facilitated by Chief Judge Williams and Director Jason Cannon Immediately Following Show | Keating Theatre
Mar 3rd | High school performance: Butler with post-show discussion 10:00 AM | Keating Theatre
Mar 4th | High school performance: Butler with post-show discussion 10:00 AM |Keating Theatre
Mar 8th | My Name is Asher Lev: Final Dress Rehearsal for Invited Guests 8:00 PM | Keating Theatre
Mar 11th | My Name is Asher Lev: Opening Night 8:00 PM | Keating Theatre
TBA | The Roots of Hatred: My Name is Asher Lev Panel Discussion 5:00- 6:00 PM | Keating Theatre
Week of Mar 28th | METV Broadcast of Panel Discussion
Apr 6th | Alabama Story: Final Dress Rehearsal for Invited Guests 8:00 PM | Gompertz Theatre
Apr 8th | Alabama Story: Opening Night 8:00 PM | Gompertz Theatre
Apr 14th | Alabama Story: Post-show discussion Immediately Following Show | Gompertz Theatre
Apr 21 | Alabama Story: Post-show discussion Facilitated by Chief Judge Williams Immediately Following Show | Gompertz Theatre
Apr 28th | Hot Topics of Today: Banned Books and Other Literature: Alabama Story Panel Discussion: Moderated by Opinion-Editor Tom Tryon with guests Sarabeth Kalajian, Director of Sarasota County Libraries & Historical Resources; Edward James III, political strategist; Georgia Court, Owner of Bookstore 1 Sarasota; and Dr. April Flakne, Associate Professor of Philosophy 5:00-6:00 PM | Gompertz Theatre
May 1st | Sarasota Stories: Panel Discussion Panel Discussion led by Mayor Willie Charles Shaw. *Not on the FST Campus
May 2 - 16 | Beaches, Benches, and Boycotts: Civil Rights Movement in Sarasota and Tampa Bay Sponsored by The Florida Holocaust Museum & The Sarasota County Public Libraries Exhibited at Selby and North Sarasota Libraries through the month of May
May 1st | A Call to Citizenship: WWSB ABC7 launches public service announcements across their full coverage area for Dialogues on Diversity
May 1st | Mayoral Proclamation of Diversity Day
Week of May 2nd | METV Broadcast on Panel Discussion
May 5th: Quiet Lives, Quiet Lies - Alabama Story Panel Discussion Moderated by Chief Judge Williams with guest panelists Kenneth Jones, Ken Shelin, Dr. Mary Davenport
May 5th | Alabama Story: Post-show discussion Facilitated by Chief Judge Williams Immediately Following Show | Gompertz Theatre
May 19th | Moral Citizenship: A Call to Conscience - Alabama Story Panel Discussion Moderated by Chief Judge Williams with guest Dr. Robert M. Franklin, Director of the Religion Department at The Chautauqua Institution 5:00-6:00 PM | Gompertz Theatre
Week of May 23rd | METV Broadcast on Panel Discussion
May 23rd | Sarasota Celebrates Diversity: Sharing Our Stories Dialogues on Diversity Closing Event 5:30-7:30 PM
May 23th | Mayoral Proclamation of Diversity Day Presentation
May 26th | Alabama Story: Post-show discussion Immediately Following Show | Gompertz Theatre
May 28th | Closing night: Alabama Story 8:00PM | Gompertz Theatre