"Doublewide" Explores Working Class Struggles

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At a time when health care costs make new headlines daily, a new play set to open at Florida Studio Theatre will soon delve into the impact a medical crisis could have on families on the brink of financial crisis. Stephen Spotswood, the playwright for Doublewide, has been working on the play over the past four years, and has only seen the subject matter rise in relevance. “I wanted to talk about the kind of modest American dream that should be totally attainable,” Spotswood says, “but it’s difficult because these people live in a world where a moderate financial hiccup can totally wipe them out.”

Doublewide was selected this year for the National New Play Network’s Rolling World Premiere program, which finds new work to bring to life on three or more theater stages over a year. In this case, Doublewide played for its first audiences earlier this year at Florida Repertory Theatre in Fort Myers before coming to FST, and from here will go to the Vermont State and Williamston Theatre. Spotswood will work with actors and companies along the way, further developing the play as he goes.

FST artists say this material will inspire. “The playwright has so clearly tapped in to a raw vein of frustration and hopelessness that seems to be permeating our modern middle class,” says FST Associate Artist Jason Cannon. The play follows the life of Jim Starkey, a working class father supporting family in a doublewide trailer with dreams of building a home for his daughter.

Spotswood says he wrote the play with a particular part of Delaware in mind as the setting, but has found many who read the script envision the tale playing out in whatever area seems most familiar to them. The story could take place in Parrish as easily as it could near the Maryland state line. As the play ends up in front of more audiences, Spotswood remains curious what individuals who watch take away from the experience.

“I am interested not only in what audiences react to in two acts of the play but what they take out of it,” he says. “I hope they see themselves in it. But even if they don’t, and even if this is not the world they grew up in or exist in now, I hope they see it’s not an alien world, and that these people have the exact same concerns everyone else does, just in a different container.”

The FST production will feature returning company members Todd Licea and Kim Crow, with former FST acting apprentice Alexa Fajardo Eldridge making her MainStage debut. Doublewide runs from Aug. 2 through Aug. 20 in the Gompertz Theatre.

Photo by Alexandria Hill, Cast of FST production of 'Doublewide'

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