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Life and Legacy in Pictures From Home

December 18, 2023

Can we ever truly know our parents? Is it possible to capture a person’s entire life and legacy in images?

Florida Studio Theatre dives headfirst into these questions, and more, with Sharr White’s Pictures From Home, a play inspired by Larry Sultan’s critically acclaimed photo memoir of the same name.

“It’s a demanding, fun, and insightful play,” said FST Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “You get to know this three-person family in a deeply personal way.”

Described by critics as a “Sharp,” “Compelling,” and “Surprisingly touching” family drama, Pictures From Home takes its audience on an intimate journey through the lives of one California family.

Pictures From Home follows photographer Larry Sultan over the course of his decade-long project where he visits his childhood home to photograph his parents in their everyday lives. He also talks to his father, Irving, a retired business executive, and his mother Jean, a passionate real estate agent, about family myths and memories. Sultan even stages specific shots to complement the themes and emotions of these conversations.

Pictured: Jean Tafler (Jean Sultan) and Kraig Swartz (Irving Sultan). Photo by John Jones.

Through this process, the Sultan family must face their evolving relationships and learn to understand one another in new ways.

“[Larry’s parents] let him into their home for 10 years to just photograph and photograph and photograph,” said playwright Sharr White in a Broadway.com interview. “That, into and unto itself, is an act of love. It also must have driven them crazy. I knew this had to form the core of the play.”

FST’s production of Pictures From Home uses real photographs from Sultan’s renowned memoir and projects them onto the stage at pivotal moments in the play.

“These projections are integral to the story,” said show director Kate Alexander. “They’re like another character. Each member of the family talks about the images, refers to them, and argues about them. In doing this, you see that each of them has a completely different understanding of what a photo ‘means.’”

“These images will add a wonderful visual dimension to the performance,” said Jean Tafler, who plays Jean Sultan, the family matriarch who is determined to preserve her independence while caring for her family at the same time. “Each of the characters react in different ways to the images, and audiences will get to see Larry Sultan’s actual work. After all, his art and his family are what this whole play is centered on.”

Kraig Swartz, who was in last season’s World Premiere of Visit Joe Whitefeather (and bring the family!), plays Larry’s father, Irving Sultan. Swartz is tasked with embodying an aging father who must come to terms with his complicated feelings towards his son’s art.

Playing the enthusiastically inquisitive photographer Larry Sultan is Gil Brady, who was last seen in FST’s hit 2023 Summer Mainstage production of Shear Madness.

“I am looking forward to working on a piece that’s so relevant to my life and to a lot of people’s lives: trying to really know your parents in the time you have with them” said Brady. “I’m recognizing how lucky I, in particular, am to still have that time.”

Pictures From Home is now playing in FST's Keating Theatre. For tickets and more information, click here.


Header Image: Kraig Swartz and Gil Brady. Photo by John Jones.