Two Touching Tales of Compassion
Graceland is a poignant, sometimes humorous, story about Rootie and Bev, two ardent superfans of Elvis Presley a generation apart in age, who camp out at the entrance of his Memphis Graceland mansion three days prior to its June 7, 1982 opening as a public museum. Revealing the complexities of their lives, the women vie to be the first to step into the sacred space for compelling personal reasons. Who will get the honor? The resolution is a triumph of human compassion.
Asleep on the Wind, a lyrically evocative companion to Graceland, finds Rootie ten years earlier with her favorite brother Beau in their secret “special place” that Rootie speaks about in Graceland. Their brother-sister bond is magical, with Beau sharing life-changing news that informs why Rootie must go to the Graceland opening a decade later. A heart-melting preamble to Graceland.
An intermission separates these two short one-act plays.
Evie Hunter – Rootie Standby
Susie Lowe – Bev Standby
At Venice Theatre
140 Tampa Ave. W.
Venice, FL 34285
Located at the north end of the rear parking lot. Please follow the signs and parking lot volunteers. Parking is available in front of the Raymond Center and under the bridge. Seating is general admission.
Benny Sato Ambush ‡
Benny Sato Ambush is a veteran director, institutional theatre leader, educator, published commentator and consultant. He has been Artistic Director of TheatreVirginia (Richmond, VA) and Oakland Ensemble Theatre (Oakland, CA).
Previously, he was Associate Artistic Director of San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater; Acting Artistic Director of Providence, RI’s Rites and Reason Theatre Company; Co-Artistic Director of San Francisco Bay Area Playwrights Festival; PEW Charitable Trust/TCG Director-In-Residence for Manalapan, Florida’s Florida Stage; and Associate Artistic Director of Anna Deavere Smith’s Institute on the Arts & Civic Dialogue at Harvard University.
He has directed with numerous professional regional theatres including Old Globe Theatre; Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Portland; South Coast Rep; Alabama Shakespeare Festival; American Conservatory Theater; Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company; Magic Theatre; Geva Theatre; Playwrights Horizon; Ford’s Theatre; Triad Stage, American Repertory Theater Institute; Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays; Lincoln Center Theater Institute; Heart of America Shakespeare Festival; Indiana’s New Harmony Project; Actors Guild of Lexington, KY; Alaska Theatre of Youth; International Theatre Festival of Chicago; Sacramento Theatre Company; National Black Theatre Festival; Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre; Lyric Stage Company of Boston; Gloucester Stage Company; The New Rep; TheatreSquared, The Lost Colony; Underground Railway Theater, Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival, and Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training.
Ambush has a BA in Theatre Arts and Dramatic Literature from Brown University and an MFA in Directing from the University of California, San Diego. In 2020, he was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre.
A Sarasota resident and 8th grade student at McIntosh Middle School, Ali feels she has won the Golden Ticket by being cast as Rootie and is humbled by the opportunity. Many thanks to Benny Sato Ambush and to cast members, Pam and Patrick and Stage Manager, Jackie, for their insights & support. Gratitude to Ellen Byron, for her personal note of encouragement. Ali recently performed at Venice Theatre in Arabian Nights.
Pam is excited to be in her first production at VT. She has been involved in theatre for over 50 years and has run the gamut of involvement from directing, stage managing, scenic and lighting design and acting. Recent credits include Marla Faye in Savannah Sipping Society, Stranger in Dead Man’s Cell Phone and Muriel in Fox on the Fairway at Lemon Bay Playhouse. Special thanks to the cast and crew of Graceland, to Benny for the great opportunity and all her crazy friends on Rinella Street.
Patrick graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.F.A in acting. Deepest gratitude to Mark Brotherton. As you say, “Have fun!” Happy to be having fun with this wonderful cast and crew.
* indicates member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA)
‡ indicates member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC)