A PERFORMANCE KALEIDOSCOPE: RIAF RETURNS
Every fall, the Ringling rolls out another feast of theater and music and movement. The Ringling International Arts Festival is back next weekend, this time with hard-to-find performers and even entire genres from Asia.
"It's going to be an artistic triumph," said Dwight Currie, the festival's curator of performance. "The great strength of the Ringling Museum and everything we do here is its diversity."
For something truly different, pull up a clip of two of Orkes Sinten Remen (Asolo Theatre, Oct. 16-18) on YouTube and take a listen. The singing and keroncong-playing Indonesian band (translates to "whoever likes it") evokes the joy discovered by the descendants of what was once a Dutch penal colony, much as England colonized Australia, Currie said.
"People have said to me, 'What kind of music is it?' " Currie said. "The only response I have is, 'It's their music.' This is one of the freshest, original sounds. It is just the sheer joy of making music."
Other RIAF highlights include the musical and literary pilgrimage of American-East Timorese-Taiwanese artist Jen Shyu (Cook Theatre, Oct. 16-18) through southeast Asia, resulting in movement and song pieces "so rich and textured, we put translations in the playbill," Currie said.
On opening night through the end of the festival, puppeteer Tom Lee's Shank's Mare (Asolo Theatre, Oct. 16-18) offers a glimpse into Japanese kuruma ningyo. The Japanese form places the puppeteer behind the puppet, sometimes using his own legs as the legs of the doll while manipulating the body and head. L.A. master puppeteer of Korean descent, Lee worked on the Broadway marvel, War Horse.
See the Ringing International Arts Festival Oct. 15-18 at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. Tickets start at $27. (941) 359-5700. ringling.org.
HOMEGROWN TALENT: AMANDA SZEGLOWSKI
Amanda Szeglowski's grandmother had a colorful way of getting her grandchildren to eat their vegetables. "Harold," a hungry boy who lived upstairs, will eat the broccoli if they don't.
Szeglowski, 34, is the founder of Cakeface, a dance theater troupe based in New York's SoHo district. She also is a graduate of Blake High's arts magnet and a summa cum laude alumna of the University of South Florida, where she majored in dance and business.
Her production, Harold, I Hate You, running this weekend at Hillsborough Community College, is "an investigation of omnipresent insecurities that are, perhaps, imaginary," according to promotional literature.
"Sometimes, I thought Harold was a sickly little boy, sometimes an old man," Szeglowski told me. "I just knew I wanted to do something about Harold."
The story, enacted by the all-female company, plays off a second theme of Boy Scouts navigating their own irrational fears.
"The stories are very real and darkly humorous," said Szeglowski, who interviewed numerous women and men to get ideas. "We talk about things like rape, we talk about prison and diseases of all kinds."
The dance theater company Cakeface performs Harold, I Hate You at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Mainstage Theatre on HCC's Ybor City campus, 1304 E 11th Ave. $10. cakefaceart.com.
CARIBBEAN DRAMA: PANTOMIME
Harry Trewe is an Englishman down on his luck and looking for ways to build up his struggling guest lodge on Tobago. So, he tries to enlist his servant into participating in a pantomime show "about Robinson Crusoe," thinking a little entertainment will help fill empty beds.
The servant, Jackson Phillip, eventually relents, then takes the skit light years further than anyone envisioned. That is the premise behind Pantomime, a comedy presented by USF Theatre and Dance by Pulitzer-winning Caribbean playwright Derek Walcott. In Phillip's hands, Crusoe is a mere launching pad for a series of brilliant skits lampooning the British Empire, class and prejudice. Pantomime runs through Sunday at Theatre 2, University of South Florida, 3829 USF W Holly Drive, Tampa. $15. (813) 974-2323. arts.usf.edu.
BOX OFFICE OPEN: LION KING, KINKY BOOTS, Book of Mormon
Tickets for Broadway hits are available at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and Ruth Eckerd Hall. Tickets for The Lion King (Jan. 20-Feb. 14) start at $35, and start at $50 for Kinky Boots (Dec. 1-6). (813) 222-1037. strazcenter.org. Over at Ruth Eckerd Hall, tickets for Book of Mormon (Feb. 16-21) go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. $38-$148. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.