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New College alumnus takes center stage with launch of play at Sarasota's Asolo Rep

Man wearing glasses smiles at camera
Spector graduated from New College of Florida in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre and literature.

The timely satire centers on the fallout of a potential epidemic at an elementary school.

Jonathan Spector, a New College of Florida alumnus, returns to Sarasota this week for the local opening of his play Eureka Day, at Asolo Repertory Theatre.

The show collected a number of local awards upon its premiere in San Francisco before going on to receive a nomination for the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

In the play, parents argue over the issue of vaccinations, while frazzled school administrators try to keep the peace.

It all sounds like art imitating life -- but the outbreak on stage isn't coronavirus, it’s a case of the mumps.

Jonathan Spector wrote his play in 2017 and it was first produced two full years before the pandemic.

So, it seems fair to ask, is the playwright from the future?

"Yeah, it was a very strange experience in the early days of the pandemic to feel like some of these conversations and what had felt like my very private obsession was suddenly something that the whole world was talking about all the time," he said.

Eureka Day confronts the central question: how do you find consensus when you can’t agree on the facts?

But the good news, many critics have said, is that the show tells that story through the lens of comedy.

"I think there is a lot of humor in our world in the way people actually behave and having gotten both wonderful reviews of plays and less wonderful reviews of plays, it’s certainly more preferable to have the more wonderful ones," Spector said.

The playwright, who now lives in Oakland, California has fond memories of his alma mater and its connection to Asolo Rep.

“It’s wild and very moving," he said. "Asolo was the first place I encountered professional theatre artists. I was the assistant director for a play in the conservatory my last year at New College, so it’s thrilling to come back and see a play of mine on that same stage.”

Eureka Day runs through June 4th at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota.

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