'A Beary' big adventure'

Florida Studio Theatre proudly presents "A Beary Big Adventure & Other Winning Plays," a collection of plays inspired by the imaginations of children in sixth grade and below. "A Beary Big Adventure & Other Winning Plays" is presented as part of FST’s WRITE A PLAY (WAP) program, an award-winning arts integration initiative that inspires and teaches young students the fundamentals of playwriting. Students use their skills to craft their own theatrical pieces, before submitting them to FST’s annual youth playwriting competition. Winning playwrights have their work selected out of thousands of submissions from around the world, and presented as a professional production with skilled actors at FST.

Wise, heartfelt, and often hilarious, this anthology of award-winning short plays highlights the most creative and imaginative writing by elementary school students from around the world. Some of this year’s exciting original works include Murtle the Turtle in Dangerous Waters, The Loss I Had, Aquarium After Dark, and Peanut Butter & Me. This year’s play submissions to FST’s WRITE A PLAY program reached as far as Italy, Israel, Scotland, and Russia. Every submitted play undergoes a thorough evaluation process, and is read at least twice by FST staff members and community volunteers.

When choosing winners, FST looks for plays with an imaginative plot and character, a strong sense of rhythm in the dialogue, innate wisdom, and diverse themes. Adam Ratner, FST’s Young Playwrights Festival Coordinator and Lead Teaching Artist, said, “The plays that were submitted this year run the emotional gamut. From a heartfelt tale of understanding one’s true purpose in The Star Who Could Not Twinkle to hi-jinx and hilarious shenanigans in The Refrigerator Zone. It is a banner year as over 6,000 young playwrights submitted plays showing that they were truly inspired to have the courage to create!”

Directing these touching original pieces is FST Associate Artist, Jason Cannon. Cast in A ‘Beary’ Big Adventure are FST Acting Apprentices: Emma Barishman, James McCormack, Jamie Molina, Erin Paxton, Ben Southerland, Liam Tanner, and Olivia Wilson. These actors have previously been seen in FST’s productions of Peter Pan, Snow White, and Deck the Halls: Home for the Holidays. Cannon and the cast “Treat these young playwrights’ inspired works with same respect and consideration that [they] give to adult professional playwrights,” explains Ratner.

"A Beary Big Adventure & Other Winning Plays" will play on weekdays to school groups in FST’s WRITE A PLAY series and on Saturdays (and select Sundays) throough April 27 to the public as part of FST’s Children’s Theatre subscription series. Single tickets are $10. For more information, please contact FST’s Box Office at 941-366-9000 or visit the Children’s Theatre page online at floridastudiotheatre.org. To book your school, contact Hannah Bagnall at hbagnall@floridastudiotheatre.org.

FST’s weekend Children's Theatre Series is designed for children and families to explore the world of theatre arts. For less than the cost of a movie ticket, FST’s Children’s Theatre brings culturally enriching quality time to children and families throughout Sarasota. Through pre-show activities and post-show talkbacks with the cast, young audiences have the opportunity to dive deeper into their theatre experience. Since its conception in 2016, series attendance has almost tripled, demonstrating the demand for high-quality family entertainment.

Now celebrating its 28th year, FST’s WRITE A PLAY program is a year-round arts-in-education initiative, providing students with the example, the inspiration, and the skills to write their own original plays. During the course of the academic year, traveling FST Teaching Artists lead in-class workshops in schools, teaching students in Kindergarten through 12th grade the fundamentals of playwriting: character, dialogue, conflict, and setting. FST Teaching Artists then lead students in developing their own original plays, which are submitted to FST's annual youth playwriting competition. FST receives over 5,000 young playwrights each year from all over the world, and about a dozen plays are selected for a full-scale production, presented as part FST’s Annual Young Playwright’s Festival. Since its conception in 1991, WRITE A PLAY has impacted over one million children throughout the state of Florida, nationally in New Jersey, and as far as Russia, Scotland, Italy and Israel.

Florida Studio Theatre is located at 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota.

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