Thursday, March 7, 2024

The Bridge Initiative presents the world premiere of THE FLORA AND THE FAUNA, March 29-30

Shonda Royall

The Flora and Fauna by Alyson Mead Inspired by 2016 Rape Case

World premiere production of drama developed by The Bridge Initiative

The Bridge Initiative presents the world premiere of The Flora and Fauna by Alyson Mead at the Tempe Center for the Arts Studio Theatre, three performances March 29-30. Mead was inspired to write the play “by a single line from the famous letter read in court during the Stanford rape case." The play is not about the events or the trial; instead, it depicts a fictional 40-year friendship and the dark secret of how the two women met. Sometimes to move forward, you have to look back.

In 2016, Bridge named The Flora and Fauna its New Work Contest winner from a field of more than 160 submissions. Mead was based in Los Angeles and Bridge hosted her along with new work specialist Stefanie Sertich from NYC for a residency with local professional artists to workshop the play in the winter of 2017, culminating in a public reading at Mesa Community College. Bridge considered fully producing the play at the time, but as a brand new company, it looked to establish itself with well-known playwrights like Lauren Gunderson. In the interim, Mead released the text royalty-free for companies nationally to spread awareness

When Bridge chose The Flora and Fauna for their 2023-24 season, Producing Executive Director Brenda Jean Foley discovered Mead had passed away in 2020. “I was devastated,” she says. “I had wanted to produce Alyson’s work for years. We had been in communication and I had several of her other scripts-in-process, but now it looked like that wouldn’t be possible.” After a months-long search for the unpublished play’s rightsholder, Bridge connected with Mead’s mother, Gretchen Mead, in New York, who was overjoyed to provide the rights and endorse the production.

Director Shonda Royall leads a team that includes Designers Kelly Jones, Devon Mahon, Amanda Rosas, and Brianna Fallon, Stage Manager Courtney Kenyon, Intimacy Coordinator Rachel Finley, and actors Erin Buvala-Benites and Christina Sbraccia with understudies Alicia Peterson and Makenna Cunningham.

Bridge will donate 10% of ticket sales to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence ( who will be curate a post-performance talkback after the 2pm matinee performance on March 30. Performances at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W Rio Salado Pkwy, Tempe, AZ, 85281, March 29 at 7pm & March 30 at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets: $25 general admission; $18 students/seniors/educators plus fees, available at, 480.350.2822 or at the box office.

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