Professor Deborah Brevoort Part of ‘Playwrights Project’
BY Felix van Kann, June 4, 2020
Adjunct Associate Theatre Professor Deborah Brevoort was hired by the Florida Studio Theatre (FST), a regional theatre in Sarasota Florida, to participate in a nationwide new play initiative called the Playwrights Project which sets out to create new work for the stage. She is one of 33 playwrights, sketch comedy writers, and musical theatre developers who will be working on a full length play under the current title The Drolls which will be considered for future production on FST's Mainstage. With funding from the Paycheck Protection Program, all participants were hired as full-time staff writers.
The Drolls will be a comedy set in London in 1659, at the end of the Puritan reign that followed England’s Civil Wars. It will tell the story of Etherege, a blackamoor performer and musician, who struggles to survive during a period of authoritarian rule and religious extremism. It is inspired by the drolls, a group of unemployed actors who performed comedy routines in the back alleys of London when theatres were closed during the Puritan crackdown and by events surrounding the re-discovery of Shakespeare with the restoration.
Commenting on her participation, Brevoort said, “One of the mandates I received from FST as I began to write my play for the National New Play Initiative was to ‘think big.’ When does a playwright ever hear that from a theatre? I have never heard this. I have been told for my entire career to think small and to cut my imagination down to the size of a small budget. FST is envisioning a bolder kind of theatre in the future, when this pandemic is over, and is giving us the means to create it. I’m deeply grateful to them for this opportunity.”
Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by artist Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company then acquired the former Woman’s Club building, becoming the first permanent venue. Shortly after Producing Artistic Director, Richard Hopkins arrived, the building was purchased and renamed The Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Gompertz Theatre, the Parisian style Goldstein Cabaret and John C. Court Cabaret, and Bowne’s Lab Theatre.
Deborah Brevoort is an award-winning author of plays, musicals, and opera librettos. She is best known for The Women of Lockerbie, which is produced internationally. Her plays, which have been produced at theatres across the US, include: Blue Moon Over Memphis, a Noh Drama about Elvis, The Poetry of Pizza, The Blue-Sky Boys, The Comfort Team, The Velvet Weapon, Into the Fire, and Signs of Life. Her latest, My Lord, What a Night, will open at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC after a rolling world premiere at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Orlando Shakes, and Florida Studio Theatre. A two-time winner of the Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theatre for Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing with Scott Richards, and King Island Christmas with David Friedman. Her latest is Crossing Over, an Amish hip-hop musical with Stephanie Salzman. She has written the librettos for seven operas, which have been produced at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Colorado, and others. Her plays are published by Applause Books, Samuel French, DPS, and No Passport Press. She teaches at Columbia University and NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.