In recent years, New York has seen his Florida Crackers (Circle Rep) and The Preservation Society (Primary Stages), but mostly playwright Wm. S. Leavengood has worked regionally, especially in California and Florida. A St. Petersburg resident, Leavengood has made a real connection with the American Stage theatre company, and the venue has been offering a reading series of five Leavengood plays. The series began Feb. 14 with The Preservation Society and continued March 20 with Afternoon Dreams and April 17 with various one-acts.
May 1 brings 17 Black, a drama about politics and gambling developed at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center. In it, a not-so-young man finds his gambling problem not only destroying his marriage but jeopardizing the career of his life-long politician father.
"Florida Crackers: The Screenplay" will be read May 22. This adaptation of Leavengood's best-known play tells of lazy, drugged-out, Florida rich kids getting an unpleasant wake-up call as the times change around them.
17 Black, Florida Crackers, as well as the farce, What Is Art? and several one-acts (including Day of the Onandaga and Space Hunter) were published in a Leavengood compilation, "Florida Bound," in 1994, by Holvoe Books.
Regarding the Bill Leavengood "Signature Series," American Stage artistic director Kenneth Mitchell said in a statement, "We're excited to afford our audiences the opportunity to come into direct contact with a playwright and to feel the power their words have on his work." For information about the Leavengood sries at American Stage, 211 Third Street South in St. Petersburg, call (727) 823-PLAY.
-- By David Lefkowitz