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Towards A Fervent Theatre - A Note from Richard Hopkins

September 14, 2022

Welcome back. It’s the beginning of a new season. And this new beginning is filled with anticipation, excitement, and just the right amount of gleeful fear. Why? Because now, we set out on a journey to bring the best in contemporary theatre to one of the best audiences in the country.

I am entering my 40th Season as your Artistic Director. When I started in 1980, FST was a small, alternative touring theatre. The focus was on taking contemporary theatre to new audiences. Over the years, as FST and the audience have evolved and expanded, we have grown even more fervent in the value of contemporary theatre.

We have grown fervent in our belief that theatre must be affordable and accessible to as many people as possible.

We have grown fervent in our belief that FST must entertain with as much gusto as it challenges.

We have welded our ideas to actions. We have welded our actions to feelings. And as a result we have welded the audience to the theatre. Together, we have created a fervent theatre.

In my years of leading FST I have focused on three things:
• Places
• People
• Plays

Let me explain:

We all love the intimacy of FST’s theatres: The Keating Mainstage, The Goldstein Cabaret, Bowne’s Lab, the Court, and the Gompertz. The personal engagement between actor and audience is what we love. Those small theatres are not an accident. At FST, we are purposeful in the choice of an intimate theatre experience for the audience. We know that there is no better theatre than an intimate one. In our theatres you can feel at home. You can feel the pulse of the actor. And, you’re not “a speck,” as one audience member commented. You matter.

At FST, you can come as you are: this is where the street meets the elite.

At FST, the audience comes to see theatre. Not to be seen.

The best theatre is made up of the best people. We all know that.
And we have some of the best people working right here at FST.

You can see the excellence of FST people in the personal engagement of box office staff with the audience.

You can see the excellence in FST people in our Casting & Hiring Department, where three pros spend 40 hours a week each, day in and day out, finding the best professional talent in America to play our intimate theatres: that’s testament to the best.

You can see excellence in our Literary Department working year-round reading and analyzing scripts and developing new plays from scratch to help find and create the very best selection of plays for our five stages, all designed to meet the needs, hopes, and dreams of our audience.

The fact that I spend 40 to 50 days of every year in New York City casting and recruiting the very best talent to create FST plays for Sarasota audiences is testament to the best.

The fact that more than 250 professionals from New York, Chicago, L.A., Miami, and right here in Sarasota grace the FST stage every year is testament to excellence because they know high quality theatre when they see it. And that’s why so many of them keep returning.

We are standing on the shoulders of hundreds of America’s best artists and theatre workers who have gone before us on the stages and in the wings of Florida Studio Theatre. We are fully aware that hundreds more will follow in the years to come as the art of theatre continues to grow and flourish on the FST stage in Sarasota.

I saved the best for last. Hamlet got it right when he said: “The play’s the thing…” And at FST we pride ourselves on finding, developing, and producing some of the best contemporary theatre in the state of Florida. From brand new World or Regional Premieres, to the best from Broadway and beyond, our play selection has lived up to our mission to challenge with as much gusto as we entertain.

This year we are doing work by some of the brightest and best playwrights of our era, including Steve Martin and Edie Brickell for Bright Starand Jason Odell Williams, author of Handle With Care, along with extraordinary new voices like Christopher Demos-Brown, who wrote American Son, and Matthew Lopez, author of The Legend of Georgia McBride.

FST is what you love in theatre. FST is big enough to serve you, and small enough to know you.

FST is a two-way theatre. A theatre that listens to its audience as boldly as it speaks to the audience. A theatre that believes in “the uncreated conscience of the race.” A theatre that believes we share dreams and nightmares, and myths and monsters that all deserve to be seen on our stages. That theatre is indeed holding, as it were, the mirror up to nature, and that means holding the mirror up to the people in the audience so that we can better understand ourselves. Better understand our neighbors. And better understand “The Other.” The theatre is the place we come “to play.” To grow our learning skills. To learn, again, what it means to be alive.

Florida Studio Theatre provides excellent theatre at affordable prices.

Florida Studio Theatre boasts the largest audience in the state of Florida. Over 226,000 people like you enjoyed the riches of authentic, visceral, and meaningful theatre last year. Our subscriber-based audience is in the top 3 in the United States, according to a 2011 Theatre Communications Group survey.

And through all this growth in audience, facilities, and artistry, we have remained your theatre.

FST is small enough to know you, and big enough to serve you.

FST is the place where the street meets the elite.

FST is a fervent theatre, welding ideas, actions, and feeling into a community portrait.

Welcome to the journey. Another Season begins.


Richard Hopkins

Producing Artistic Director