The Manalapan company's focus has always been on new plays and strong voices, and its membership in the National New Play Network has underscored that mission. But the festival has given Florida Stage artists and audiences, not to mention the playwrights involved, the chance to experience scripts as staged readings. For artistic director Louis Tyrrell and his collaborators, the festival provides another chance to consider works for upcoming seasons -- Deborah Zoe Laufer's award-winning End Days, William Mastrosimone's Dirty Business, Roger Hedden's The Count and Catherine Trieschmann's about-to-open The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock all got Florida Stage world premieres after readings at the 1st Stage festival.
This year's gathering March 8-10 features a keynote speech by Israel Horovitz, whose play The P Word (about teens who make a pregnancy pact) will be read at the festival. Other plays getting readings are Christopher Demos-Brown's When the Sun Shone Brighter (about a political candidate during the time of the Cuban exile bombings of the 1970s and '80s), Laufer's Sirens (about a guy who jumps overboard during a 25th anniversary cruise and winds up on an island), Carter W. Lewis' The Storytelling Ability of a Boy (featuring the boy, a lesbian cellist and a girl with a nail gun), Jack Staub's Running Out (about a brother and sister dealing with their parents' haunting secret) and Andrew Rosendorf's Levittown, or the Fall of the Loan Ranger (about a 15-year-old who imagines his family's life as a '50s radio show).
Tickets go on sale Feb. 1. An array of ticket options is available, from $100 to see/experience the entire festival to $10 for a single play (students and theater pros can get in for less). Call 561-585-3433 or visit the Florida Stage festival web page.