SARASOTA, FL. MAY 13, 2020. Florida Studio Theatre has announced the launch of The Playwrights Project, an artistic initiative employing 32 of the country’s top playwrights, sketch comedy writers, and musical theatre developers. With funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), FST has hired these artists as full-time staff writers. The material generated during this time will be considered for future production in FST’s Mainstage, Cabaret, Sketch Comedy, and Children’s Theatre programs.

“The Project was conceived within the first few days of the theatre shutting down due to COVID-19,” said Richard Hopkins, FST’s Producing Artistic Director. “FST, like the rest of our nation, was brought to a sudden standstill. Three days after closing the theatre, I had a revelation about Shakespeare-he, like every good artist, instead of following the dark and writing about the plagues of his time, took the road less traveled and followed the light. He wrote, without judgment, about the wonder of humankind. Which made me think that now is the time for FST to inspire the creation of plays. To ask playwrights to write like Shakespeare and reveal humanity’s complexities without judgment.

Deborah has been commissioned to write THE DROLLS, a comedy set in 1659 during the Puritan crackdown in England. It will tell the story of Etherege, a blackamoor performer 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 the theatres were closed by the Puritans and by events surrounding the re-discovery of Shakespeare with the Restoration.