Monday, June 25, 2018
Stage

Anything goes at the first-ever Tampa International Fringe Festival

Transforming Ybor City from abandoned warehouses to the bohemian, artsy district it is today took decades.

Another quantum leap in that direction could take just a weekend. The Tampa International Fringe Festival, a brand-new event, aims to turn revelers into repeat customers for what could turn out to be the most eclectic group performers this area has ever seen.

That's what fringe is, and why the free-form, anything-goes style is growing. You never know what you're going to get.

Trish Parry, one of three former University of South Florida theater students who co-founded the festival, acknowledged some jitters as more than 100 performers representing 29 shows set their sights on Tampa for the event, which runs today through Sunday at several venues.

"This is definitely the biggest project I've ever been involved with," Parry said.

It began to take shape three years ago with the encouragement of an old friend, Jobsite Theater's producing artistic director David Jenkins. Parry and fellow USF alumnus William Glenn sold out Tampa's New World Brewery with a two-actor show, A Brief History of Beer.

"We began talking then really seriously about, 'Wouldn't it be great if Tampa had its own fringe festival?'" Jenkins said.

Billed as "Tampa's first open-access, uncensored, international fringe theatre festival," TIFF did not require performers to audition. Performers secure their spots by lottery. Shows last an hour and run three times over the weekend. Artists keep the money from ticket sales.

This year's offerings include a play about the Falklands war (Falkland), a comedy about theme park actors (Callbacks), a dark comedy punk cabaret singer-songwriter (Mock$tar) and a variety show (Tyler's Time Out).

Organizers placed TIFF just ahead of Orlando Fringe (Tuesday to May 29), the longest-running fringe festival in the United States, and at the earliest end of a festival trek across the United States and Canada, culminating in September in San Francisco. The goal, Jenkins said, is "for this to become a destination on the touring circuit."

"And that helps the region," he said. "That helps tourism, it puts people in hotel beds, it puts money into Ybor City and into artists' pockets."

Here's what five of the contributors had to say.

Nancy Kenny: Roller Derby Saved My Life

Genre: Solo comedy

What it's about: An introvert who reads comic books in her apartment gets into the wildly competitive world of roller derby.

Inspiration: "It's metaphorically autobiographical," says Kenny, 36, a native of Bathurst, New Brunswick. "I wasn't as withdrawn as the character in this show. But I turned 30, and I think people re-evaluate around 30."

Payoff: Skating around the area before festivals, handing out fliers and selling T-shirts. She's going to meet the women of Tampa Roller Derby, a league that includes the Tampa Tantrums, the Tampa Bay Bruise Crew and the Black Widows. Kenny's documentary film about festival life, On the Fringe, will also be shown this weekend.

Timothy Mooney: Breakneck Julius Caesar

Genre: Solo comedy

What it's about: A stripped-down version of the Shakespeare play, reinterpreted at warp speed.

Inspiration: "As I dove into the play, I came away with how little they had on Caesar, other than they were afraid he might become a tyrant. They decided to kill him before he had actually done anything wrong. … The more I studied it, the more I felt Shakespeare doesn't really agree with Mark Antony's perspective."

Payoff: “As the narrator, I'm kind of just me, giving my own kind of snarky perspective on the play as it flies by, diving into different roles, squeezing in all of my favorite quotes."

Karissa Barber: Masterwork

Genre: Two-character drama

What it's about: After marriage and three children intervened, Katherine rediscovers painting and gets a gallery show. "She's trying to balance that part of her life with staying home with the kids. How do those two things work together?"

Inspiration: Barber is an artist and actor who lives in Lakeland with her husband and children. This is her first play.

Payoff: "Just (write) and it will come to you. I've gotten feedback from artists and playwrights, what was working in the script and what was not working."

Staci Sabarsky: Dark Vanilla Jungle

Genre: Solo drama by British playwright Philip Ridley, directed by Sabarsky

What it's about: Marie-Claude Tremblay plays Andrea, whose childhood abandonment and neglect have left her with cravings for paternal love.

Inspiration: "When I first read it I was terrified. I said, 'There's no way I can do this.' My husband said, 'You have to do it because it scares you. It needs to be told by a woman.' "

Payoff: "It's so difficult but it's rewarding too. It makes you really questioning and uncomfortable, mesmerized and transformed in some way." Sabarsky plans to start a theater company, Innovocative Theatre, in Tampa.

Ladell Thomas: The His-Tory of the Magical Majestic Mr. Ocean

Genre: Solo dance

What it's about: Born 29 years ago in Trinidad and Tobago, Thomas moved to Brooklyn at age 8. Entirely self-taught, he has mixed the styles of his native country with hip-hop and physical comedy. Between his popping Robot and the Ticking Clock moves, Mr. Ocean enjoys "small movements, waving, imitating water." This is Thomas' first festival performance.

Inspiration: "It's something I ended up teaching myself how to do in order to impress a girl, and it turns out to be my life's dream."

Payoff: "For me to be a part of this festival is a dream come true. Ever since I have heard about the fringe festivals, I have been anxious to put my show in one. It's great to finally get that opportunity."

Correction: An earlier online version of this story misspelled the name of Staci Sabarsky's theater, Innovocative Theatre.

     
Comments
Parody and theater trivia combine in Freefall’s light-hearted of ‘Musical of Musicals’

Parody and theater trivia combine in Freefall’s light-hearted of ‘Musical of Musicals’

ST. PETERSBURG — Forgive yourself if you recognize only a portion of the dozens of musicals being lampooned in The Musical of Musicals — The Musical!, Freefall Theatre’s season closer. This mash-up of the works of five celebrated composers reads like...
Updated: 1 hour ago
On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

SENDUP: MUSICAL OF MUSICALSFive composers, a talented cast, choreography by Cheryl Lee and music directed by Michael Raabe — that’s Freefall Theatre’s recipe for a laugh-filled, season-ending summer musical, appropriately titled The Musical of Musica...
Published: 06/20/18
Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

TAMPA — The virtues of Dancing at Lughnasa, with which Jobsite Theater closes its season, are many. This drama by the celebrated Brian Friel opened in 1990 to much acclaim. It captures a family’s joys and sadnesses, and the quickness with which one s...
Published: 06/19/18
Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — In his vision for this weekend, Connor Coyle is standing in the ring at the Coliseum, and the referee is raising his gloved fist.He’s got a National Boxing Association middleweight championship belt around his waist, the first of sev...
Published: 06/15/18
Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — In his vision for this weekend, Connor Coyle is standing in the ring at the Coliseum, and the referee is raising his gloved fist.He’s got a National Boxing Association middleweight championship belt around his waist, the first of sev...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/16/18
Why this ballet dancer is skipping college in favor of her own St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory

Why this ballet dancer is skipping college in favor of her own St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory

GULFPORT — Brianna Melton is as serious a ballet student as they come.By her junior year at St. Petersburg High’s International Baccalaureate program, she had already spent four summers training with ballet companies across the country and had narrow...
Published: 06/14/18
What’s on stage: The Illusionists, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa,’ G. David Howard

What’s on stage: The Illusionists, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa,’ G. David Howard

OPENING: DANCING AT LUGHNASAIrish playwright Brian Friel, who died in 2015 at 86, won’t be traveling anymore. But I’ll bet he packed a tidy suitcase. Dancing at Lughnasa, Jobsite Theater’s season closer, manages to address a lot of issues: race, reli...
Published: 06/13/18
Ruth Eckerd Hall tees up comedy, romance and Kristin Chenoweth for 2018-19 Broadway season

Ruth Eckerd Hall tees up comedy, romance and Kristin Chenoweth for 2018-19 Broadway season

Ruth Eckerd Hall rolls out a new lineup of musicals for its 2018-19 season, a mix of comedy, favorite musicals and romance."For the last 35 years, Broadway has always been a staple at Ruth Eckerd Hall," chief executive officer Zev Buffman said in a p...
Published: 06/12/18
A tense night at the Tony Awards ends in euphoria for Largo doctor Jeffrey Grove

A tense night at the Tony Awards ends in euphoria for Largo doctor Jeffrey Grove

Dr. Jeffrey Grove sat three-quarters of the way back from the stage at Radio City Music Hall, waiting for his moment. The Largo physician made the trip with family to New York for Sunday’s Tony Awards, where he hoped to see his investment in O...
Published: 06/11/18
Neal Boyd, ‘America’s Got Talent’ winner, dies at 42

Neal Boyd, ‘America’s Got Talent’ winner, dies at 42

SIKESTON, Mo. — Neal Boyd, an opera singer who won America’s Got Talent and dabbled in Missouri politics, has died. Scott County Coroner Scott Amick says Boyd died around 6 p.m. Sunday at his mother’s house in Sikeston. He was 42. Amick says Boyd had...
Published: 06/11/18