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Three Plays Are Born

An Invitation to Peek Behind the Curtain

April 22, 2024

For fifty years, Florida Studio Theatre has been dedicated to fostering the growth of new and contemporary theatre, and there is no event that better embodies this commitment than the Richard and Betty Burdick New Play Festival.

To date, FST has produced more than 30 world premiere productions, many of which received early support from in-house play development programs. For example, Lindsay Ferrentino’s Ugly Lies the Bone was a part of our 2014 Burdick New Play Festival and later went on to receive successful productions Off-Broadway and in London before returning to FST to kick off our 2023-24 Stage III season.

“The Burdick New Play Festival is an invaluable opportunity to engage with a live audience during the developmental stages of a play,” said FST Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “This process is crucial in refining scripts and understanding the impact of the narrative on the FST community. The festival is truly a platform for artists to grow and evolve their projects in a professional atmosphere.”

This year’s festival will feature new works from three dynamic voices in American playwriting. Each play will receive three days of rehearsal, during which time the writers will work with professional directors, actors, and other experts to bring their plays-in-progress to life. For each play, this intensive rehearsal and revision process culminates in a staged reading in the Keating Theatre with a live audience.

This year’s festival begins on Friday, April 19th with Jake Brasch’s How to Draw a Triangle. This funny and warm-hearted memory play tells the story of Aaron, a musical theatre-obsessed fifth grader, and his relationship with the hardened gym teacher assigned to work with him on developing his fine motor skills. “Together they tell a touching coming-of-age story about queerness, identity, friendship, and the power of Julie Andrews.”

On Friday, April 26th, celebrate the female voices of film history with Carole J. Bufford’s new cabaret, Daring Dames of the Silver Screen. Which FST commissioned during the pandemic. FST audiences may recognize Bufford from previous performances in cabarets such as ROAR: The Music of the 1920s and Beyond, Vintage POP!, and Come Together: When the 60s Met the 70s. In her new cabaret, Bufford will star alongside familiar FST favorites Jannie Jones (Up on the Roof, The 70s: More Than a Decade, Blue Suede Shoes) and Alexis Semevolos-Velazquez (Reel Music, The Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx/Latine Vote) as they explore the lives of cinema’s unsung musical heroines.

On Friday, May 3rd, Victor Lesniewski will round out the festival with a staged reading of his play The Fifth Domain. When expert hacker Troy Fowler accepts a position with an under-the-radar cybersecurity team, his eagerness to succeed blinds him to the repercussions this new project could have on his personal life and on the security of the nation. This slick new thriller explores the world of patriotism, espionage, and government accountability in the digital age.

The staged readings of these pieces will occur with minimal support from scenery, props, or costumes. This allows audiences and playwrights alike to immerse themselves in the text of the play and discover its true core.

“This comprehensive development process ensures that works-in-progress benefit from a fully fleshed-out experience, breathing life into the plays and enhancing their potential for future productions,” said FST Literary Manager Catherine Randazzo.

In the 2022-2023 mainstage season, FST produced two plays which received development as part of the Burdick reading series: Bruce Graham’s Visit Joe Whitefeather and Frank Higgin’s Black Pearl Sings!

Previous festivals have also provided support for plays that our Stage III patrons may recognize, including Etan Frankel’s Paralyzed, Jaqueline Goldfinger’s Babel, and Johanna Adams’ Gidion’s Knot.

“The intimate setting of the Burdick series facilitates a direct connection between the playwright and the audience, offering valuable insights into the play's reception and effectiveness,” said Randazzo.