Winter Flowers at The Players Centre

Arts & Culture

Pictured: Jill Schroeder and Meredith Templeton in Winter Flowers. Photo courtesy of The Players Centre for Performing Arts.

For almost a century, the Sarasota Players Centre for Performing Arts has been bringing first-rate community theater to the Gulf Coast. That tradition is still very much alive in 2023–tucked away in the organization’s regular season is their Sidebar Series, an intimate, three play series in The Sarasota Players Studio Black Box Theatre. This weekend marks the final run of the second play in the Sidebar Series, Winter Flowers, written by Lily Rusek and directed by Jalex Scott.

The two-person play, starring Jill Schroeder and Meredith Templeton, tells the story of two aging sisters, Delphi and Rosie, as they face down mortality after Delphie’s cancer diagnosis. “Delphie is 72 and Rosie is 65, however, Rosie has the mental capacity of a five-year-old,” says Scott. “Delphie has spent her entire life taking care of Rosie and has recently discovered that she has stomach cancer. The play is about her revealing this to Rosie and trying to convince her that they should move into a home together and sell their house so that somebody will be there to take care of Rosie when she passes on.”

Scott, a first time director, was drawn to the play by the emotional arcs of the characters. “The subject matter is just very beautiful and I tend to gravitate to more emotional shows. I thought the whole concept behind the story was just stunning,” says Scott. “While I’ve been acting for around 20 years and have been fortunate enough to work as an assistant director on various projects, this is my first full length directorial venture. It’s definitely been a learning experience–I had an idea of what to expect, but there has still been a process of learning just how much a director puts into a show.”

Because of the sensitive nature of the story regarding Rosie’s developmental disabilities, Scott and the team had to approach the character with care. Scott wanted to not only portray Rosie’s differences accurately, but celebrate them as well. “From the beginning, we’ve been very careful about it. Rather than thinking of Rosie as a character with developmental disabilities, we’re approaching the choices like she’s playing a child,” says Scott. “We’ve worked hard to bring a childlike joy to her character–instead of saying this is what a developmentally disabled person would do in a particular situation, we opt for how a child would react in the same situation.”

October 27-29, The Players Studio, 1400 Blvd. of the Arts, Suite 200, Sarasota, 941-552-8879.

Pictured: Jill Schroeder and Meredith Templeton in Winter Flowers. Photo courtesy of The Players Centre for Performing Arts.

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