Every summer, Banyan Theater produced several plays in the Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for Performing Arts in Sarasota. The company folded before last season, after the death of its founder and prime mover, Jerry Finn.
That left a void not only for the local theater audience, which had gotten used to excellent theater in the summer, but for the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. Students from the conservatory often earned valuable experience performing in Banyan’s professional productions.
So now the conservatory has started a summer series of its own, and it premieres this week. The Dog Days Theatre series will offer respected plays, with casts that include professional actors and conservatory students. It will function as a small professional theater, much like Banyan.
Its first production is “Relatively Speaking” by Alan Ayckbourn. Ayckbourn is one of the most-prolific and most-popular playwrights in the world, the author of approximately 80 plays. “Relatively Speaking” was his first major success, in 1965.
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The story revolves around a young couple considering marriage. The young woman heads to the country to visit her parents and to break things off with another lover. The young man follows her, hoping to ask her father for permission to marry, but ends up at the home of the other lover, who is there with his wife. He thinks they’re her parents and they have no idea who he is, which leads to all kinds of hilarity.
The other entry in the inaugural Dog Days season is “Double Indemnity,” Aug. 8-27.
Details: July 11-30, Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. $25-$28. 941-351-8000, asolorep.org.