The Hermitage Artist Retreat announced new programs throughout the months of May and June. Continuing its 20th Anniversary Season, these events will be presented all across Sarasota County, from the Hermitage’s beautiful beachfront campus on Manasota Key to the Van Wezel Terrace overlooking Sarasota Bay, as well as virtual offerings expanding access beyond geographic limitations. Hermitage programs introduce world-renowned artists to Florida’s Gulf Coast community and audiences across the country for candid and engaging conversations, musical performances, play readings, work-in-process showings, and educational opportunities for students and adults.
Newly announced programs in May include partnerships with Urbanite Theatre, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens at Historic Spanish Point, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and a new virtual program with support from Florida Humanities. Featured artists and performers include returning Hermitage Fellow and Tony Nominee Bess Wohl (Grand Horizons, Small Mouth Sounds) who provides the key-note conversation as part of Urbanite Theatre’s Modern Works Festival and whose play Camp Siegfried recently premiered Off-Broadway following development at the Hermitage; Julliard-trained violinist and 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Finalist Mazz Swift, who has performed at such iconic venues as Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, and New York’s Lincoln Center; returning Hermitage alumna and internationally celebrated cellist Karen Patterson; as well as Pulitzer Prize Finalist Zora Howard (Hang Time, Stew, The Master’s Tools). June programs will spotlight the work of writer and acclaimed translator Jennifer Croft (William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, Man Booker International Prize) and author Tony Barnstone offering his literary insight through Tarot cards, plus as a showcase of original songs by Hermitage composers presented by some of Sarasota’s most celebrated performers.
On Friday, May 5th at 8pm, the Hermitage partners with Urbanite Theatre to present a conversation with Bess Wohl as part of Urbanite Theatre’s popular Modern Works Festival. Sarasota audiences will remember Wohl from the recent production of Grand Horizons at Asolo Rep as well as the in-process showing of selections from Camp Siegfried on the Hermitage Beach prior to its recent run in New York at Second Stage Theatre. As one of the most exciting voices writing for the stage today, this Tony Award-nominated playwright and returning Hermitage alumna will discuss her works and career as part of the festival’s focus on women in theater.
The following week, Hermitage programs continue on Friday, May 12th at 6:30pm on the Hermitage Beach with “Black Women in our Collective Culture,” an interdisciplinary program featuring the works of Hermitage Fellows Delita Martin and Imani Perry. These two acclaimed Hermitage Fellows share a common subject: redefining the role and representation of Black people and particularly Black women in our collective culture. A multimedium visual artist, Martin has been exhibited both nationally and internationally with work combining collage, painting, drawing, and sewing techniques. Perry is the author of seven books and Pen Bograd-Weld Award for Biography, the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award, and the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction.
On Friday, May 19th at 6:30pm, the Hermitage is pleased to welcome the return of cellist Karen Patterson for the next installment of the popular “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” series. One of the Hermitage’s earliest alumna musicians, Patterson will play an informal cello concert of favorites and original works at Selby Gardens: Historic Spanish Point. Since her time at the Hermitage, Patterson has performed all over the world including the Lagos Jazz Series Festival in Nigeria, the Jazz and Gospel Fest in Rio De Janiero, and a world premiere by Egyptian-American Composer Halim El-Dabh for the Dayton Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. “Cello on Point,” the latest installment of the “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby” series, promises to be a magical evening of beautiful music at Historic Spanish Point.
With “Moved to Music: Violin on the Bay,” the Hermitage partners with the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall to bring two genre-bending violinists to the Outdoor Terrace of this iconic Sarasota venue (recently home to the Hermitage’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Concert). Presented on Friday, May 26th at 6:30pm, “Moved to Music” combines the Julliard-trained violin talents of Mazz Swift, described by Jazz Right Now as “soaring and lyrical,” with the holistic approach of New Orleans-based violinist, teacher, and yoga instructor Rebecca Crenshaw. Both artists center the power of music to forge community and express big ideas, and both will share selections of their work and process. In addition to being a returning Hermitage alumna, Swift was also recognized as a finalist for the 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize.
The Hermitage’s “Artists and Thinkers” series continues on Wednesday, May 31st at 6:30pm ET with “Stewing with Zora Howard,” a conversation with Pulitzer Prize Finalist Zora Howard. Thanks in part to the support provided by Florida Humanities, this virtual artist conversation dives deep into the cultural, historical, and economic realities of her play Stew, which has been celebrated as a contemporary triumph. Facilitated by Hermitage Programs Director James Monaghan, this program is presented online and features selections of the work in addition to the artist’s insights and opportunities for audience members to engage directly via the ‘Q&A’ feature.
The Hermitage’s year-round outdoor programming continues in June with “The Radiant Tarot: Pathway to Creativity” on Friday, June 16th at 6:30pm on the Hermitage Beach with Hermitage Fellow and writer Tony Barnstone. Inspired by the words of Rilke and William Blake amongst many other artists and practitioners, the artwork and guidebook of this Tarot deck are aimed at awakening creativity and personal growth. In this program, Barnstone, author of the guidebook, will illuminate some of the impulses behind its creation, its potential interpretations, and the creative projects it has already inspired. Don’t miss this intriguing take on the age-old quest of every artist: to capture creative inspiration and make the next great work.
The following week, the Hermitage presents “The Many Languages of Jennifer Croft” at 6:30pm on Tuesday, June 20th on the Hermitage Beach. Recipient of the 2020 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing for her illustrated memoir Homesick and the 2018 Man-Booker International Prize for her translation of from Polish of Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights, Jennifer Croft is an accomplished writer as well as translator. She also happens to be married to gifted writer and translator Boris Dralyuk who joins her as part of the Hermitage’s Family Residency program. Croft and Dralyuk share selections from their original and translated works as well as offering insight on the mercurial art of translation. In recognition of this great evening of words, the Hermitage is partnering with a number of literary organizations to support the event including Sarasota County Libraries and the Johann Fust Library Foundation on Boca Grande.
As the summer officially begins, the Hermitage travels to Lakewood Ranch on Friday, June 23rd at 7pm to present “Songs from the Sand: A Hermitage Cabaret.” This evening of song at Lakewood Ranch’s “Waterside Pavilion” stage will feature original songs and words created by artists who have been in residence on its Manasota Key campus presented by Sarasota’s finest performers. From Adam Gwon to Jeanine Tesori, Michael R. Jackson to Kit Yan, and Rona Siddiqui to Zoe Sarnak, the Hermitage has provided space and time to some of the most exciting musical theater writers working in the industry today. Hear some of these breathtaking and inspiring works, as well as little known stories surrounding some of their creation, performed by some of Sarasota’s greatest talents. (Details of the composers and performers to be announced at a later date.)
Nearly all 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. Due to capacity limitations and social distancing, registration is required at HermitageArtistRetreat.org.