Hermitage Announces New April and May Programs

The Hermitage Artist Retreat (Sarasota County, Florida) today announced new programs in April and May. Continuing its commitment to innovative year-round arts programming, these events will be presented throughout the Gulf Coast region, from the Hermitage’s beautiful beachfront campus on Manasota Key to the heart of Sarasota’s vibrant downtown arts scene in collaborations with Selby Gardens, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Oak Street Stage, and more. Frequently only an hour in length, Hermitage programs introduce world-renowned artists to Florida’s Gulf Coast community and invite audiences across the country to experience candid and engaging conversations, music performances, play readings, open studios, film screenings, and more. 

Newly announced April programs begin with a presentation from Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author Xochitl Gonzalez(Olga Dies Dreaming), alongside award-winning playwright and librettist Julia Jordan (Murder Ballad). These two Hermitage Fellows make work that speaks for itself; they also advocate for equity among their fellow artists and citizens who are deserving of recognition. On Friday, April 5th at 6:30pm on the Hermitage Beach, hear how these two trailblazing women are shaping our future through art and action during the program “Stage, Page, and Useful Rage.” Julia Jordan’s Hermitage Residency generously sponsored by Gerald & Sondra Biller. Xochitl Gonzalez’s Hermitage Residency generously sponsored by Liz & Duncan Richardson.

Next up in April is the previously announced Hermitage Greenfield Prize Celebration – with four events spanning April 13 to 15.

Then on Wednesday, April 24th at 3:30pm, hear from an Obie Award-winning playwright whose work has been produced at some of the country’s leading theaters. Hermitage Fellow Sarah Gancher is no stranger to writing for the stage. Her works include the recent Off-Broadway play Russian Troll Farm, as well as musical projects like Hundred Days and The Lucky Ones in collaborationwith The Bengsons. In this special program made possible by the Annette Dignam State College of Florida Residency in Literature at the Hermitage, Gancher will share excerpts of her original work and offer insight into how she approaches a range of theatrical writing projects. “Writing for the Stage” is the first public presentation of this longstanding endowed literature residency, which has previously only been open to students. This program is presented in partnership with the State College of Florida on their Venice campus. 

Hermitage programming in May kicks off at Spanish Point with one of the nation’s greatest mimes and storytellers Bill Bowers, who was trained by the legendary Marcel Marceau, and Kavita Shah, an award-winning vocalist and composer who has performed all over the world. A celebrated mime by training and a master of physical theater techniques, Bill Bowers has been hailed as “the great American mime.” He is also a charismatic storyteller who is currently writing his remarkable life story in a memoir about making theater all over the world. A Sarasota favorite, Bowers returns to the Hermitage after his previous waitlist-only appearances. Hailed for her “amazing dexterity for musical languages” (NPR), Kavita Shah speaks severallanguages and sings amazingly in them all. These two Hermitage Fellows embrace both the sounds and the silences surrounding them. “Sound and Silence” is part of the Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens series on May 2nd at 6:30pm at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Historic Spanish Point.

Floridians are no strangers to the sand and sun, but that familiar environment can be transformed into an inspirational environment by the creativity of artists like Tony Award-nominated playwright Bess Wohl and violinist Rebecca Crenshaw. Bess Wohl is familiar to Hermitage audiences from the development and early sharing of her play Camp Siegfried on the Hermitage Beach prior its successful Off-Broadway run; her Broadway and Off-Broadway plays like Grand Horizons and Small Mouth Sounds are praised by audiences and critics alike for their poignant humor, smart characterizations, and inventive theatricality. RebeccaCrenshaw is a New Orleans-based artist, educator, and violinist; her practice is shaped by the soundwaves she creates with bands like Grammy Award-winners Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons. These two innovative Hermitage Fellows present “Waves: Movements that Shape Us” on the Hermitage Beach as the sun sets into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, May 10th at 6:30pm. 

Not only are the arts for people of all backgrounds and identities, but they have the power to shape the world in which we live. An Obie Award-winning Hermitage Fellow, playwright, and director, Shayok Misha Chowdhury’s work crosses continents, encompassing different languages, peoples, cultures, identities, and beliefs. Fresh from Soho Rep’s critically acclaimed production of Public Obscenities and its subsequent transfer to Theater for a New Audience (NY Times Critic’s Pick), this Relentless Award Winner shares work and talks process in a candid and empowering program. “Seeing Oneself & Celebrating Identity” is presented at the Koski Center on Friday, May 15th at 6:30pm. This program is presented in partnership with ALSO Youthand Asolo Repertory Theatre; “Seeing Oneself & Celebrating Identity” is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with National Endowment for the Arts and the Florida Department of State Division of Arts and Culture.         

Returning Hermitage Fellow and composer Robert Pound’soriginal piano piece “Sonata in Memoriam Lloyd Arriola” will be performed at Oak Street Stage in Sarasota on Friday, May 24th at 5:30pm. Pound was commissioned to create this composition after a chance encounter at the Metropolitan Opera in 2015 with Lloyd Arriola, a friend and Juilliard-trained pianist. After Arriola suddenly passed away in 2016 at the age of 43, this solo piano composition took on an entirely new dimension, which Pound used his residency at the Hermitage to create. Hear insights from the composer and the sweeping, complex piece performed by a close friend and fellow Juilliard-trained pianist, Charles Hulin IV.

All of these Hermitage programs are free and open to the public (with a $5/person registration fee), offering Gulf Coast audiences a rare chance to engage and interact with some of the world’s leading talent. Running time for most Hermitage programs is 60-70 minutes. Due to capacity limitations, registration is required at HermitageArtistRetreat.org.