Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts continues its 25th consecutive season with The Agitators by Mat Smart and directed by Bill Taylor, opening Jan. 17 and playing through Jan. 27. The groundbreaking play by Mat Smart is a biographical account of the four-decade-long friendship between Frederick Douglass (played by Derek Lively) and Susan B. Anthony (played by Dena Galyean).

In a series of powerful vignettes set largely in the northeast, the 19th-century timeline of the play follows its characters through 45 years, starting from when they first met in the 1840s. The production faithfully demonstrates the demarcation line of wills that brought these two forces of nature together, when race and gender issues, equality and voting rights, were being forged in the wake of slavery and the Civil War.

“This is a story I knew little about before reading the show,” says founder and producing artistic director, Bill Taylor. “The friendship of Douglass and Anthony was complimented by the fact that they were driven by the same principles and goals regarding equal rights yet challenged by a society and government that might allow one group (black men) to vote yet deny another (women) access to the polls. With the talents of Derek and Dena taking on these personas I know we will have one outstanding evening of theatre for our patrons! ”

Classically trained, Derek Lively has appeared in productions ranging from Shakespeare to Eugene O’Neill and has worked in regional theaters and Off-Broadway, including The Public Theater and LaMama E.T.C. His solo show, Welcome To My Soul, which he wrote and performed, led to a first-look development deal with NBC. Derek is an award-winning screenwriter, NYC produced playwright, and a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Dena Galyean was previously seen in Theatre Conspiracy’s 2018 production of A Doll’s House as Nora Helmer. Some of her favorite credits in southwest Florida include Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire,  Rosalind in Moon Over Buffalo, Elaine in Last of the Red Hot Lovers and Vixen in The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. Dena is an Illinois native where she also performed in numerous shows.

Individual tickets to each show are $26, $11 for students or $22 for Alliance members. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturdays with a new 7:30 p.m. start time and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. An audio described performance will take place on Jan. 27. Reservation of headsets is required prior to the show by calling 239-939-2787.

To widen the post-show conversation and discuss what the art onstage means to us as individuals and as a society, the Alliance will facilitate a community conversation, also on Jan. 27. The opportunity is included with ticket purchase.

The Agitators is sponsored by Janet and Bruce Bunch. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the box office at 239-939-2787, visit 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers, FL or go online at

The Alliance for the Arts, in partnership with the Dunbar Festival Committee, presents From Podiums to Pulpits: Activists for Change on Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. at 1857 High St, Fort Myers, FL 33916.  The free event is a celebration of Martin Luther King’s passion for justice, equality and highlights various national and local civil rights activists throughout history who have worked for change.

From Podiums to Pulpits: Activists for Change features community performers and entertainers who will honor his legacy through dance, music and verse. Production participants include:

The Soleeaters, Dance Troupe
Luna Muni, Violinist
Quality Life Center Performing Arts Students
Derek Lively, Playwright/Equity Actor
Patricia Idlette, Equity Actor
Veronica Barber, Community Press Co-Founder
Keesha Allen, Quality Life Center Performance Arts Director
Bianca Russell, Dancer and Choregrapher
Shaunte Manuel, Vocalist
Rolf Julmisse, High School Actor
Sonya McCarter, Director

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Weekend runs from Jan. 12 – 21 and aims to educate the public, inspire new leaders and form partnerships to better our community. For more information, visit.

For the last 13 years, the Alliance for the Arts and Lee County Port Authority have partnered on a project called Art In Flight, which brings art to the public spaces and the millions of travelers at Southwest Florida International Airport.

The current Art In Flight: My Florida exhibit features the creative perspective of 30 Florida artists and what it means to them to call Florida home. Explore sandy beaches, unique architecture, diverse people, and the vitality of our oceans before even stepping out of the airport! My Florida exhibits from December 2018 – May 2019 on Concourses B and D at the Southwest Florida International Airport. The show will come to the Alliance for the Arts main gallery in June of 2019.

Participating artists in My Florida exhibition include: Robert Alllen, Elisabeth Arena, Jolie Black, Juli Bobman, Annette Brown, Stacey Brown, Martin Casanova, Donna Chase, Patrick Conolly, Lillian Coury, Betsy D’Jamoos, Lisa Duritsch, Alane Enyart, Lydia Fogaras, Janet George, Ehren Gerhard, Imani Gibbs, Julie Griffin, Megan Kissinger, Mariapia Malerba, Deborah Martin, Ellen Miller, Caren Pearson, J.T. Phillippe, Whit Robbins, Dorothy Salcedo, Erik Schlake, MiMi Stirn, Carla Wormington Messerli and Beverly Yankwitt.

“Art inspires and activates our imaginations,” says Alliance exhibitions coordinator Krista Johnson. “This exhibit makes it possible for people to experience art every day and promotes Lee County’s colorful and cultural vibe.”

To learn more, call 239-939-2787 or visit

The Alliance for the Arts is excited to announce Saturday mornings at the ARTCade. The program invites kids and families to participate in free visual arts projects, games, creative activities inspired by current gallery exhibitions between the hours of 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. on select Saturdays. This project is made possible thanks to grants from Publix Super Market Charities and The Cape Coral Kiwanis Foundation.

The next project is Small Works from Small Hands on Dec. 15, presented by Samantha Howard and inspired by the current Small Works Exhibit: Off the Wall. Students will create string art ornaments, mini wreaths, pinecone owls or pom-pom Santas.

Additional dates include Feb. 16 and April 20. ARTCade takes place on select Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Alliance for the Arts located at 10091 McGregor Blvd. 33919 Fort Myers, FL. Details for each program will be posted as soon as they are available.

For more information on this event, call 239-939-2787 or visit

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts held its 20th Annual New Play Contest Fundraiser on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Alliance for the Arts located at 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort  Myers FL  33919. The contest provides opportunity for audiences to get involved with the contest process itself, rather than the end result.

Unlike most new play competitions, this contest welcomes works that have been produced before. The three finalists for the 2018-2019 New Play Contest were selected from over 600 entries across the United States, Canada, Israel, Thailand and England. Finalists included: Flying by Sheila Cowley, Engagement Rules by Rich Orloff and America’s Sexiest Couple by Ken Levine.

An excerpt from each play was presented as staged readings, without costumes and props. After the conclusion of the final reading, the audience voted on which play they wanted to see, which will be given a full production in the Alliance for the Arts’ 2019-20 Season. The playwright also received the Janet & Bruce Bunch New Play Contest Award.

The winner of the New Play Contest is Engagement Rules mostly a comedy by Rich Orloff. A four-character comedy with bite, Engagement Rules follows the intertwined lives of two couples who advise and support each other on challenges of love, sex and the soul. The younger couple (early 30s) is recently engaged, and the older (in their 70s) has been married over fifty years.

“Processing over 600 entries is a daunting task, but the impact of a good script will be felt immediately. I think the audience would agree all three play finalists are worthy of production,” says artistic producing director Bill Taylor. “Unfortunately we only pick one winner and we look forward to the production of Engagement Rules.

The playwright, Rich Orloff, is one of the most popular unknown playwrights in the country. His plays have received over two thousand productions, numerous awards, and oodles of laughter. Author of over a dozen one-acts and 80 short plays, Rich’s short works have had over 1,800 productions on six of the seven continents… and a staged reading in Antarctica! Born and raised in Chicago, and a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, Rich currently lives in New York City.  He likes to get out of town frequently to remind himself what the rest of the world is like.

Tickets for the current Alliance for the Arts theatre season can be purchased at or by calling 239-939-2787.