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Florida Rep to host PlayLab Festival of New Works and Emerging Artists

By Staff | Apr 10, 2024

Florida Repertory Theatre will hold its PlayLab Festival May 2-5 in the Historic Arcade Theatre. The 2024 PlayLab lineup includes five plays reflecting Florida Rep’s mission to produce a wide variety of work by emerging and well-established writers.

The festival features the reading of five new plays and a playwrights’ panel session. Play topics include unconventional romantic comedies, dramedies about tough love and healing, and an intense drama reimagining the outcome of a real-life tragedy.

Tickets are $30 per reading or $150 for an all-access pass that includes admission to all five readings plus the playwright’s panel. A VIP all-access package is also available for $185 and includes complimentary concessions at each reading. For more information or to purchase tickets visit floridarep.org or call 239-332-4488 or toll-free at 877-787-8053.

Selected works include two unconventional romantic comedies, “Dunk City” by Stephen Brown, and “Ten Minutes On A Bench” by Kenneth Jones, a tough love dramedy “Minding Miss Mae Mae” by Phillip Christian Smith, a moving dramedy about healing and moving forward, “How It Feels To Fall From The Sky” by Dominic Finocchiaro, and an intense drama that reimagines the outcome of a real-life tragedy, “Room 124” by Michelle Kholos Brooks.

Each of the festival playwrights works with a professional director and cast of actors and receives 15 hours to workshop and develop their piece before it has one public reading during the intensive weekend festival. The plays are each in consideration for a future premiere production in a subsequent Florida Rep season. The festival culminates with a playwright panel session moderated by Jason Parrish, Florida Rep’s associate artistic director.

“Each reading performance includes a talk-back and a discussion with the playwrights, directors and actors,” said Jason Parrish, the festival organizer. “Audience feedback is instrumental in the development process and helps the playwrights perfect their scripts and helps guide Florida Rep as it decides whether to include one of these plays in a future season.”

Examples of past plays selected for production by Florida Rep include Mark Shanahan’s plays “A Sherlock Carol” produced in 2023 and “The Dingdong” in 2016, “Damascus” by Bennett Fisher produced in 2018, “Alabaster” by Audrey Cefaly produced in 2019, and “Split in Three” by Daryl Lisa Fazio produced in 2015.

Lee Moore and Dee Whited are grand sponsors of the 2024 Festival, with major support from playwright sponsor Darlene Arnold, and networking sponsor Naomi Bloom. Selected plays were chosen from an open call for submissions to literary agents and playwrights – some affiliated with the National New Play Network, of which Florida Rep is an Associate Member.

More About the 2024 PlayLab Festival of New Plays and Emerging Voices:

DUNK CITY by Stephen Brown

Thursday, May 2 | 7 p.m.

In this big-hearted and hilarious comedy, Davey is the only 18-year-old he knows with severe erectile dysfunction and he’s feeling very insecure about it. Thank God his mother, sister, and grandma are all on the case to help him figure out this horrific affliction. “Dunk City” takes a look at masculinity, Italian-American families, and slam dunkin’ that $#!+ in Staten Island.


Friday, May 3 | 7 p.m.

A dating app called “Ten Minutes on a Bench” is the latest match-making craze, placing singles on a park bench to find common ground. The clock is ticking, but there’s no limit to the variety of quirky, heartbreaking, and humane conversations between a couple dozen characters looking for love. A new salty-sweet romantic comedy about first impressions, dogs and cats, drinkers and smokers, impulse and caution, conversation and chemistry — and the universal urge to connect. Sometimes, it only takes ten minutes.

MINDING MISS MAE MAE by Phillip Christian Smith

Saturday, May 4 | 2 p.m.

Barbara is Miss Mae Mae’s home health aide. When Barbara’s son Jordan, a TV star, comes home ravaged by drug addiction, the women form their own unconventional rehab to detox him – so he can be ready for the next season of his TV show. Barbara believes in tough love; Miss Mae Mae who is paraplegic pot smoker, believes in the Lord. “Minding Miss Mae Mae” is a biting comedy that tackles difficult issues with heart and humor.

HOW IT FEELS TO FALL FROM THE SKY by Dominic Finocchiaro

Saturday, May 4 | 7 p.m.

After witnessing a woman plummet from the sky, five strangers in New York form a support group to process what they saw. “How it Feels to Fall from the Sky” is a melancholic dramedy about loneliness, loss, and the unending possibility of salvation inside human connection. In this new play, five disparate, emotionally cautious, and fiercely protective people come together to wrestle with the experience of a shared tragedy, and they slowly learn to open up, trust, connect with, and ultimately start to heal. This play is a moving and funny piece about letting go and letting in.

ROOM 1214 by Michelle Kholos Brooks

Sunday, May 5 | 4 p.m.

On Valentine’s Day 2018, a 19-year-old boy walked into his former high school in Florida with an assault rifle. He killed 14 students and three teachers and injured 17 more. Some of the worst damage was done when he shot into a Holocaust history class as students were studying hate crimes. “Room 1214” is based on interviews with the real-life teacher of that class – who was in the room that fateful day. The play imagines what would happen if she had one more chance to teach in that classroom, and her students got a final say. It begs the question, “Can a history teacher rewrite history?” Michelle Kholos Brooks returns to the PlayLab after her play “Hostage” was read in the 2018 Festival.

Playwright’s Panel Discussion

Sunday, May 5 | 6:30 p.m.

Following the final reading of the 2024 PlayLab, audiences will hear from all of the festival playwrights in a roundtable discussion. Moderated by Associate Artistic Director, Jason Parrish, the playwrights will talk about their plays, their work as writers, and what it takes to make a living as a playwright in the American Theatre. The playwrights will be joined by special guests from the literary world and the National New Play Network.

More about Florida Repertory Theatre

Founded in 1998, Florida Repertory Theatre is a fully professional, live theatre in the Fort Myers River District. Performances are held in the Historic Arcade Theatre and the ArtStage Studio Theatre on Bay Street between Jackson and Hendry.

Subscriptions for the upcoming 2024-2025 season are on sale. Packages start at $246. For more information, visit FloridaRep.org or call the box office at 239-332-4488 or toll-free at 877-787-8053.

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