American Stage Helps Brazilian Playwright Go From Page to Stage
The word “Saudades”isn’t easily translated into English. It’s a Portuguese word that playwright Fernando Segall defines as “missing something that you’re never going to get back”.
That might just be how his play by the same makes audiences feel. Saudades is in the process of getting produced, and will see a New York staged reading and two live performances on February 18, 2023, at the Rough Draft Festival in West Queens, New York.
But before Segall’s play started receiving attention in the theatre community, he was submitting it to theatres all over the country from his home in New York.
He nearly gave up on Saudades’ production value, until he caught a yes.
One of the theatres he submitted his play to was American Stage Theatre Company in St. Pete. Saudades was selected to be one of the never-produced plays brought to life at the 2021 American Stage New Play Festival.
“This was the first play that I wrote where I was confident as a writer,” Segall said. “It got to American Stage which I did not see coming. The reading there changed my perspective. People really saw it, and it was well received.”
Segall could not make it to the 2021 festival in person after he tested positive for COVID shortly before the event. However, he watched his creation come to life while Zooming in virtually.
He watched it strike a chord with audience members, and the actors playing the characters he created.
“I was definitely surprised. I didn’t know what I was doing, and the work was very different than the stuff I grew up writing. I was always interested in American Theatre and British theatre, very in-your-face and realistic,” Segall said. “This was different.”
Saudades follows a Brazilian mother who leaves her family in America to return to Brazil after feeling disillusioned by her adopted country. Back in Brooklyn, it also follows the people affected most by her decision. He wrote himself into the work, being a Brazilian immigrant who moved to the US in 2016, he understands loss and change.
But back in his New York home, Segall didn’t let his hard work die down.
Lynn Nottage, a renowned Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright known for her plays Ruined and Sweat began working with Segall as his mentor. He went through the motions of working with theatre personalities to give his play life, and eventually, get it on stage.
“It’s just a privilege being in a room with her [Lynn],” Segall said.
Saudades went through more development, tweaked the characters, and pushed for more staged readings.
This February, his work will pay off. The play will come to life at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center Rough Draft Festival. He hopes to keep going, to find a full run in a New York theatre one day.
“You’ll get so many “no's”, but you only need one or two ‘yeses’” Segall said. “At the time, American Stage was that yes for me.”
If you want to see more upcoming playwrights and their work, American Stage is hosting the Lift Every Voice New Play Festival at the James Museum this March 3-5, at the James Museum in downtown St. Petersburg.
Five never-before-produced plays will get a spot on the stage, and it could be the start of many careers - and your chance to discover emerging writers before the world knows them.
Tips From Fernando: How to Write a Play Worth Producing
Send your play to everywhere you can possibly find.
Don’t talk about what you’re going to write, just write it while it’s fresh.
See as much theatre as possible, for cheap.
Visit and submit work to festivals like the Lift Every Voice: New Play Festival, those connections are important.
At the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art 150 Central Avenue in Downtown St. Pete. All-Access Pass is $100 (+ $8 handling) Be the first to experience new plays by the country’s leading playwrights. When purchasing a pass, please select either the ORANGE or PURPLE pass. Each pass gives you access to all events; it just determines the order in which you see the plays.
About The James Museum The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art provides experiences that inspire human connection and transformation through art depicting the peoples, landscapes, and history of the American West, and wildlife of the world. More than 400 premier works of art including sculpture, paintings and jewelry are on display in the museum’s 26,000 square feet of gallery space. The museum engages the community through programs and educational opportunities, for all ages, that bring our history to life and amplify voices that are not often at the forefront of mainstream western art. When The James Museum opened in April 2018 it became one of the newest additions to St. Petersburg’s thriving arts community.
About American Stage American Stage Theatre has operated as a non-profit 501(C)(3) in the heart of St. Petersburg, Florida, providing live theatrical productions as a professional regional equity theatre since 1977. As Tampa Bay’s longest-running, most critically acclaimed professional theatre company, its vision is to be a vital arts leader, connecting its community to world-class productions that celebrate the most powerful stories of the moment and the most defining stories from our past.
American Stage’s year-round accessible programming brings the power of quality live theatre to each generation. American Stage believes that through the telling of dynamic stories, the theatre has the power to unite us in our shared experiences and to deepen our connection to one another through the illumination of diverse perspectives.