FAU Theatre Lab’s Fair Play Initiative Supports LGBTQ+ Playwrights

Playwrights Andie Arthur and Juan C. Sanchez

Tuesday, Jun 01, 2021

Image (l/r): Andie Arthur;  Juan C. Sanchez

Theatre Lab, the professional resident company of Florida Atlantic University, is pleased to announce the return of The Fair Play Initiative, a commission and development program for new plays about  LGBTQ+ stories and experiences. The initiative was started at FAU in 2019, and this year it is once again made possible through generous funding from Our Fund Foundation. Our Fund Foundation promotes a culture of responsible philanthropy by uniting donors with organizations supporting the LGBTQ+ community to make South Florida a liveable community for LGBTQ+ people.

The 2021 edition of The Fair Play Initiative will feature three commissions of new plays, beginning this summer with two newly-commissioned audio plays. Later this year, Theatre Lab will issue another call for a full-length stage play commission, to be developed and read at the annual New Play Festival in January 2022.

“After carefully reviewing the applications from playwrights across the country, we are incredibly excited to announce the two audio plays selected for commission both come from South Florida playwrights: Andie Arthur and Juan C. Sanchez,” said Matt Stabile, producing artistic director. 

Each playwright will receive monetary award for their new plays and visit Theatre Lab this June to participate in a weeklong development process, culminating in a publicly presented staged reading at the upcoming “Storytelling 2021,” a summer play reading series at FAU.

For this round of audio play commissions, Theatre Lab focused on stories that are inspired by important events in LGBTQ history.

“We are committed to ensuring that these deserving stories are shared with a broader community, promoting a deeper understanding and connection between us all,” said Stabile. “For this reason, we intentionally scheduled these first public readings during Pride Month, the day before the anniversary of Stonewall.  We are so excited to offer these playwrights a platform to share their voices and stories.”

Theatre Lab will retain exclusive rights to a world premiere digital production of each play for up to two years following its first public reading. The plan is to release a fully produced version of at least one of the two plays in October (LGBTQ History Month) on digital platforms. Additionally, all future productions or publications of the play will include the billing “Commissioned by Theatre Lab at FAU as part of the Fair Play Initiative, made possible by Our Fund Foundation.”

“The Fair Play Initiative supports Theatre Lab’s mission of presenting dynamic new playwrights from diverse backgrounds and from under-represented demographics within our community, the region and nationally,” said Louis Tyrrell, founding director.

The first public reading of the audio plays will take place in-person on Sunday, June 27 - as part of the “Storytelling 2021,” a summer play reading series at FAU – in the University Theatre on FAU’s Boca Raton campus. The first of the two plays will be presented at 2 p.m., the second at 4:30 p.m. Both readings will be followed by a talkback with the playwright and artistic teams. Tickets are free, but limited.  To reserve visit www.fau.edu/artsandletters/theatre/ or www.fau.edu/theatrelab.

Descriptions and playwright’s bios can be found below.

“Blood Sisters” by Andie Arthur – Cindy is barely out of the closet ‐‐ even to herself. She tells herself that maybe, just maybe, if she tries hard enough, she will be able to find a man she can love. Jaq is a “self‐proclaimed man‐hating dyke.” She swore off dealing with men years ago. Even gay men are beneficiaries of the patriarchy and act like it.

It's 1981. An unexpected epidemic is hitting the gay community and while fear abounds, the government is doing nothing to help. Fear abounds, doctors are refusing to see patients, and there are major blood shortages ‐‐ can Cindy and Jaq overcome their antipathy to work together to help those in need and through helping those in need help themselves?

 Arthur is a playwright, teacher, and theater administrator. She is the executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, a co‐artistic director of Lost Girls Theatre, and adjunct faculty at New World School of the Arts. Her plays have been produced at Eclectic Full Contact Theatre Company, Lost Girls Theatre, Marquette University, and The Theatre School at DePaul University. This summer, her play, “The Feral Spinster Society,” will be workshopped at the Greenhouse.

“Versace Era” by Juan C. Sanchez – Gay life in the 1990s in South Beach was a golden time: extravagant parties, glamour, and celebrities. It became known as the Versace Era, from when the famous and beloved designer took residence at Casa Casuarina in 1992. His death symbolized the end of those golden days -- and the end of refuge -- for many South Beach residents.

Set in 1997 in a fictional cafe on Ocean Drive, the play follows the lives of several restaurant employees and guests as they come together to mourn the designer’s tragic end and confront what it means to them and their community. As they work, eat, drink and mourn, their personal stories, interactions and conversations reveal a picture of resilience, celebration, pride, communion and unity.

Sanchez is a Cuban-born playwright who has been living in Miami since he was 7 years old. His work was featured in the virtual production of “Long Distance Affair,” produced by PopUp Theatrics/Juggerknot Theatre Company and his immersive productions include “Miami Motel Stories: North Beach;” “Miami Motel Stories: Little Havana;” “Miami Motel Stories: MiMo;” and “Wynwood Stories,” all produced by Juggerknot Theatre Company.

Other plays include “A Grey Divide,” Postcard Theatre in North England; “Marea Roja,” Teatro MALI in Peru; “Buck Fever,” Terranova Collective in NY; “Red Tide, Buck Fever, and a Bearded Lover,” The Promethean Theatre; “Property Line,” New Theatre/South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center; “Paradise Motel,” developed by Mangrove Creative Collective, produced by Miami Theater Center; “Catherine’s Wheel,” FIU’s Alternative Festival; “Beer & Cigarettes: The Comeback of Connie Lingus,” written with David Hemphill for Project [Theatre], produced for the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Miami Made Festival; “Big Al,” The Tank in NY for {Your Name Here} A Queer Theatre Company; “Jason vs Dragon,” developed at NY’s The Labyrinth Theater’s Summer Intensive; and “Cuba’s Auto Body Shop,” developed by District Stage Co., directed by Andy Senor, featuring Danny Pino, Olga Merediz, Janet Dacal, Hector Medina; Jimmy Puig, and Jessica Farr. Juan has been the recipient of three Playwright Development Program grants from the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council and the Florida Department of State’s Individual Artist Fellowship.

For more information about Theatre Lab, visit fau.edu/theatrelab