SARASOTA – Florida Studio Theatre will produce the world premiere of America in One Room by Jason Odell Williams beginning December 8 in FST’s Keating Theatre. The fast-paced comedy was inspired by the real-life 2019 convention of the same name.
In this brand-new play, eight strangers arrive at the event, which promises discussion on a variety of topics–from immigration to foreign policy. Sparks begin to fly, tempers flare, and comedy abounds. Everyone believes that they are right, but as time goes on, each person’s insecurities, strengths, and values give the others in the room a glimpse into the reasons behind their beliefs.
"America in One Room is a great snapshot of the world we are living in today because it gives an unbiased view of the many perspectives held by Americans in this time of change and transformation,“ said Richard Hopkins, FST’s Producing Artistic Director. "The brilliant part about this play is that we get to see what these people collectively want, as well as their individual specific desires and goals.“
In September 2019, over 500 American voters traveled to Dallas, TX, to participate in a respectful and far-reaching conversation about the major issues of the day at the actual America in One Room convention. Playwright Jason Odell Williams saw an article about the convention in The New York Times and was inspired to write a play about the event.
"The article covered four entire pages and had photos of many of the participants,“ said Williams, an Emmy-nominated producer and award-winning playwright. "Looking into all of those faces, I started wondering what they might be like. It was just fascinating to me that all these very different people who live in the same country actually came together to discuss their political opinions in a fair and respectful way.“
Williams’ theatrical new work inspired by the real-life event focuses on eight participants and a group moderator during one of the convention’s breakout sessions, where small groups discuss topics like health care and the economy.
"These intimate conversations were meant to see if, when everyday Americans with different backgrounds actually spoke and listened to one another, face-to-face, we’d find our nation’s divide isn’t so vast or irreparable,“ added Williams. "And I believe that to be true.“
America in One Room was commissioned by FST in Spring 2020 as part of its Playwrights Project, an eight-week artistic initiative that employed over 30 of the country’s top writers to create work for the theatre’s Mainstage, Cabaret, and Children’s Theatre programs. Since then, FST’s artistic team has continued to work with Williams to develop this play. America in One Room was performed twice for the public–once virtually in February 2021 and once in person as part of FST’s August Play Reading Festival.
For schedule and ticket info, visit the FST website.