SARASOTA – Visit Joe Whitefeather (and bring the family!) is the latest from award-winning playwright Bruce Graham. Florida Studio Theatre, which commissioned Graham to write the play, will open its production Friday in FST’s Gompertz Theatre.
It’s the 1970s in Beaver Gap, Pennsylvania, a small town with a problem. Tourism has declined and it doesn’t look like there is any hope on the horizon. When a new resident joins forces with the bewildered city council, they devise a plan to rename the town to honor a dead, Native American war hero who had never visited the town before. It’s a plan so wild and insane that it just might work.
"As Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, we are heavily committed to supporting the development of new plays,“ said Richard Hopkins, FST’s Producing Artistic Director. "We do that in various ways–through commissions, like we have done with Visit Joe Whitefeather, by presenting staged readings of plays-in-progress for live audiences, and in giving works their World Premiere productions.“
Visit Joe Whitefeather is inspired by real events.In the 1950s, a small town formerly known as Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, was renamed after Jim Thorpe, the first Native American to win a gold medal for the United States in the Olympics. The idea to rename the town after the late athlete came from civic leaders’ efforts to strengthen the local economy. Today, Jim Thorpe is a popular tourist destination in the Pocono Mountains.
"I grew up thinking that Jim Thorpe, PA, was the home of Jim Thorpe,“ said playwright Bruce Graham. "It wasn't until I got to college that someone informed me that, not only was he not born there, but he’d also never visited when he was alive. The absurdity of this sat in the back of my mind for many, many years. Why would a town name itself after a dead Native American who never even drove through it?“
For schedule and ticket information, visit the FST website.