The Verna Safran Prize
Theatre Odyssey is honored to have received a substantial endowment from an anonymous donor honoring the memory of Sarasota resident Verna Safran, who passed away in 2017. This generous donation will be used to fund the first place scholarship and prize money for all three of Theatre Odyssey’s annual playwriting festivals for many years to come and will be named The Verna Safran Prize in her honor.
Verna held a Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Dramatic Literature from Columbia University and was a member of the Dramatist Guild. Her play, Just Fooling, was a finalist in Theatre Odyssey’s 2014 Ten-Minute Play Festival. She also wrote A Wedding at the Brothers and Sisters Coffeehouse, which won the 2007 Best Play of the Year at Players Theatre of Sarasota and The Rogue’s Gallery, produced at Southampton Cultural Center. Her short play The Throne is included in the collection Ten Short Plays by Ten Top Playwrights.
A former high school English and history teacher, she also authored three successfully produced musical shows for children: The Legend of Paul Bunyan, Hiawatha, and The Prince and the Pauper.
In addition to her extensive writing career, Ms. Safran served on the board of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and was active in the Unitarian/Universalist Church of Sarasota.
Theatre Odyssey is deeply grateful for a very generous gift from the George L. Spoll Foundation at The Community Foundation of Sarasota County. George passed away in late 2022. This endowment will be used to help fund our Annual Ten-Minute Student Playwriting Festivals and other theater educational efforts for many years to come.
After a very successful forty-year career as an architect and builder in the Northeast, George and his wife Madelyn Josey moved to Longboat in 1993, discovering a vibrant community that afforded them access to extensive cultural activities and most of all, a unique sense of character and community.
During his career, he built luxury homes. In retirement, he worked diligently to build community. After arriving on Longboat, he served on the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board, where he was most proud of working with the town’s building department to simplify and reduce costs in the permitting process for his fellow citizens. Following that, he served several terms as Vice Mayor, Mayor, and Town Commissioner. His legacy includes founding and chairing the Longboat Key Revitalization Task Force, a citizen’s effort to continue to bring success to his adopted hometown for current and future residents. His last act for his adopted home was to encourage, with his voice and his financial support, the construction of a small theater either standing alone or part of a larger structure at Town Center Green–a venue that would attract professional performing artists to entertain Longboat Key residents.
We thank the Spoll family for helping Theatre Odyssey fund our future efforts to develop young, creative student playwrights and theater arts educational programming.