Fall Arts Preview 2017: Etcetera

Stuff you don't want to miss because you'll... well, you'll miss it.

click to enlarge Fall Arts Preview 2017: Etcetera
via Snap Judgment

OK, our critics have weighed in, but they’re only human, right? They can’t mention everything in their selective lists of what to watch for in the fall/winter arts season. And besides, many of the coolest events — from awards shows to mural fests to art parties to book releases — don’t fit inside the regular bounds of genre-fication. And then there are those events that do belong in the usual spheres, but may not have made it onto our critics’ radar. Soooo, along with some additional suggestions from contributors, we’re giving a boost to some of our own faves in theater, art… etcetera. —David Warner/Cathy Salustri

Kris Radish's A Dangerous Woman from Nowhere (Sept.12) promises something different — a Western — for her readers, while still delivering strong female characters. Radish, who co-owns Wine Madonna in St. Pete, has moved from a big-name publisher to a boutique one, Spark, and her works seem to flourish more with the extra attention. As always, her writing evokes imagery of strong women with strong bonds and hard choices. Sept. 12 release. —CS

click to enlarge Jack Davis paddles near his hometown of St. Pete. - Cathy Salustri
Cathy Salustri
Jack Davis paddles near his hometown of St. Pete.

Even if it hasn't been quite the same since it sprawled across Eckerd College, the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading looks to have a good lineup so far. Jack Davis (Gulf: The Making of an American Sea) will be there, as will Lee Irby (Unreliable). The fest always welcomes a heavy concentration of Florida writers, and this year's no exception — other Florida writers at the fest include John Capouya (Florida Soul), Norman Van Aken (Norman Van Aken's Florida Kitchen), Bob Kealing (Elvis Ignited), Doris Weatherford (They Dared to Dream) and me (Backroads of Paradise). Florida has the best writers, doncha think? We know Colette Bancroft does. USF St. Pete. Nov. 11. —CS

A big long table with Gulfport's best restaurants lining Beach Boulevard, and all the proceeds go to Gulfport Elementary — that's the Second Annual Gulfport Chef's Table. Tickets are on sale now (one restaurant sold out the first day) for the November dinner. Restaurants include Fish Bar and Grille, Mangia Gourmet, Neptune Grill, O'Maddy's, Island Flavors and Things, Stella's, Smokin' J's BBQ, Pia's Trattoria (sold out), Manatees on the Bay and Isabelle's at the Peninsula Inn. No matter which restaurant you choose you get a four-course prix-fixe meal (tip not included, so bring cash for the servers). Beach Blvd., Gulfport. Nov. 6 (rain date Nov. 13): 6-10 p.m. $40-$85. —CS

Lee Irby planned to give a lecture on Confederate Monuments in the South: Place, Memory, and Lingering Wounds long before the Nazi march earlier this month, but I'll bet the lecture hall fills up — especially since he's sort of famous for his fiction and the lecture's open to everyone, not only students — and free. Eckerd College's Triton Room,  4200 54th Ave. S., St. Pete. Oct 23: 7 p.m. eckerd.edu—CS

If you have yet to visit the St. Petersburg Museum of History, Happy Hour with the Historian: An Evening of Wine, Words and Wisdom is the perfect excuse to check it out. Happy Hour with the Historian is a bimonthly series hosting local historians who discuss a variety of hot topics. November’s featured speaker is Lynn Waddell, author of Fringe Florida: Travels Among Mud Boggers, Furries, Ufologists, Nudists, and Other Lovers of Unconventional Lifestyles. Come enjoy a cold beverage and compelling conversation. St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 2nd Ave. N., St. Pete. Nov. 9: 6:30 p.m. $5; members, free. Cash bar. spmoh.com. —Resie Waechter

Conventions are everywhere these days: comic book characters, sci-fi and horror fans, panels, special guests, dealer tables, all that stuff. What makes one special over all the others? How about a 35-year track record, local organization, plenty of fans dressed up as pop culture characters and a variety of activities that run late into the night? Necronomicon is still the place where Dr. Who can chat with Dr. Strange over a Dr. Pepper. And that will always be a beautiful thing. Holiday Inn, 700 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. Oct. 20-22. $25-$30, daily; $55, all three days. stonehill.org—Michael Murillo

Give me a T, give me a B Not to confuse matters, but the next few weeks are big ones for the aforementioned letters. First, there’s the announcement of the Theatre Tampa Bay (TTB!) Awards Nominations on Aug. 28 at Studio@620. And then, on Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 1-3), it’s time for the fourth annual Tampa Bay Theatre Festival (TBTF!) at the Straz. The brainchild of the irrepressible actor/director/playwright Rory Lawrence and his wife, educator Kahlila Lawrence, the award-winning fest features a mix of workshops by such talented folk as Karleigh Chase and Karla Hartley, acting and writing competitions, and performances of new full-length plays. tampabaytheatrefestival.com—DW

Stu Stu Studios There’s always something worth saying “Yes!” to at St. Pete’s Studio@620. I’ll second Mark Leib’s recommendation of Take Me Out, which opens at the Studio on Sept. 14. It’s a literate baseball play, plus cute semi-naked guys — what more could you want? Earlier in the month, on Sept. 8, you should also hit the Studio for the opening reception of Lovelife, a photography show by the ebullient photographer Leslie Joy Ickowitz, who lives up to her middle name in everything she does. thestudioat620.org. And speaking of studios, the Arts Xchange in St. Pete’s Warehouse Arts District reaches a major milestone on Sept. 15 with the grand opening of more than 20 of its new studio spaces for artists; if you saw this project in its early stages, you’ll be astounded by the transformation. warehouseartsdistrictstpete.com/ArtsXchange. —DW

click to enlarge Fall Arts Preview 2017: Etcetera
via freeFall

Dog Days Jack London’s Call of the Wild was one of the first books to grab my imagination as a young reader — a heroic sled dog, how could a kid resist? — so I’m jazzed to see that freeFall is kicking off its “On 2nd Glance: Familiar Stories, New Perspectives” season with a world premiere adaptation of London’s White Fang. A Yukon adventure yarn about a young girl who finds an ally in an abandoned wolf after her tribe is massacred, it’s being co-produced with UK-based Jethro Compton Productions and will go on from freeFall to London and Vienna. Opens Sept. 29. freefalltheatre.com. And big sloppy dog kisses are due the organizers of the Gasparilla International Film Festival, who had the brilliant idea of bringing the NY Dog Film Festival to Tampa’s Waterworks Park Oct. 6. It’s a double feature of short films about, you guessed it, dogs, with all proceeds from the sale of dog tickets going to the Humane Society. Yes, I said dog tickets — you can buy a ticket for Fido (or in my case, Walter) for five bucks. (Humans pay more.) gasparillafilm.com—DW

The Write Stuff I’m happy to be part of two Dramatists Guild events in September. First, on Sept. 8 from 7-9 p.m. in the American Stage lobby, I’ll be moderating a discussion on “Resources for Theatre Writers in West Florida” with a panel of local heavyweights, including Stephanie Gularte (American Stage), Bob Devin Jones (Studio@620), Sheila Cowley (Flying), Dewey Davis-Thompson (West Florida DG Regional Rep) and Jordan Stovall (a St. Pete native who’s now manager of creative affairs for the national Guild). On Sept. 25 at Stageworks, I’ll be joining another all-star cast — Bridget Bean, Karla Hartley, Lynne Locher, Chris Romeo, Jim Sorensen, and Angela Markus — in a performance of “Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret” as a part of Banned Books Week (Sept. 24-30). It’s a celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on America’s stages (everything from Cabaret to Angels in America), and will be performed in 15 cities across the country as part of Banned Book Week activities. Free, but donations accepted for DG’s Dramatists Legal Defense Fund. More info on both events at eventbrite.com. —DW

Win-Wins We maybe don’t need to tell you this because, really, we’ve been telling you, and you’ve been voting like crazy, but Sept. 27 is the date of CL’s Best of the Bay Awards Party at the Mahaffey, on the eve of the issue’s release. Come and party with winners like you! cltampa.com/botb2017. A few days later, find out which of the Theater Tampa Bay Awards nominees went on to win at their awards gala at the Palladium on Oct. 2. theatretampabay.org. And on Oct. 19, some very deserving folks are being recognized by the Tampa Bay Business Council for the Arts’ Impact Awards, including philanthropists Neil & Gianna Gobioff and the Florida Orchestra’s Michael Francis, at the Armature Works in Tampa — which, being brand new and all, will be an attraction unto itself. tbbca.org/impactawards2017. —DW

Getting Festive October’s all about the festivals. St. Pete’s SHINE Mural Festival, hoping for slightly cooler weather conditions, has shifted from September to Oct. 4-15. shineonstpete.com. Since Pride festivities also tend to be on the steamy side, the LGBTQ community will likely welcome the first Come Out St. Pete festival in the Grand Central District Oct. 7-15 (comeoutstpete.org), which coincides nicely with the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Oct. 6-14 (tiglff.com). —DW

click to enlarge Fall Arts Preview 2017: Etcetera
via Ringling

But the splashiest festival of the month, and perhaps the year, is the Ringling International Arts Festival Oct. 18-21. RIAF can always be depended upon to bring in astounding performers from all over the world, and this season looks to be no different, kicking off with the mind-blowing video-and-acrobatic antics of the Italian troupe eVenti Verticale. ringling.org/riaf. —DW

Susanne Bartsch - © Steven Menendez
© Steven Menendez
Susanne Bartsch

Party People It’s the late ’80s all over again at the Tampa Museum of Art. Not only is the museum celebrating the couture worn by the now-and-forever doyenne of NYC nightlife in Susanne Bartsch: Art-a-Porter. She who made partying into an art form will also be at the epicenter of the museum’s annual fashion show fundraiser, CITY, on Sept. 9 . That ought to be some party. tampamuseum.org Andy Cohen throws a party every night on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live. We can’t wait to watch what happens when he gets together with his more sober-sided pal, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, for a conversation and Q&A at the Straz Oct. 7. We talked to Andy a few weeks ago, and he promises “AC-2” is kinda like a party, too — just the two of them having drinks with a couple thousand friends. strazcenter.org. —DW

Partners in Art A powerhouse art couple gets their due in Mickett/Stackhouse: Reciprocity, Oct. 7-Feb. 4, at the Museum of Fine Arts. The partnership of St. Petersburg-based artists Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse has yielded sculptures, paintings and prints of great beauty, often on a mammoth scale, so it’ll be fun to learn more about how their brand of reciprocity works. mfastpete.org. —DW

Go for the Gil The prolific local playwright Gil Perlroth has made a name for himself with his mega-popular comic musicals about the vagaries of senior citizenhood, but in his latest work, Letting Go (Gulfport Community Players, Nov. 2-12), he takes a turn for the poignant (but still funny) in a musical about a widower who finds it difficult to forget his late wife when she, well, keeps showing up. gulfportcommunityplayers.org. —DW

Take that, Florida Man! It's a well-nigh-perfect title: We Can’t Help It If We’re from Florida. It's a new anthology of essays, stories and poems by some of the best writers to have ever mused upon our amusing, infuriating, beautiful state, including Lidia Yuknavitch, Sarah Gerard, Jeff Parker and anthology editor Shane Hinton of the University of Tampa. The book is not officially due out till November, but there’s a late-October reading in the works locally, and it has already received a rave from Kirkus Reviews, who called it “a heartfelt, complex counter to all those #FloridaMan jokes.” burrowpress.com/catalog. —DW

click to enlarge Fall Arts Preview 2017: Etcetera
via Snap Judgment

Snap Judgment comes to Tampa Theatre live, because Glynn Washington is awesome and so are we. This podcast/broadcast tells stories — and we all love to hear a good story. These are true (to the person telling it, anyway), dramatic and always have a theme. Download the podcast if you haven't heard it, and plan to see it live — maybe even splurge for the VIP option with the private cast party. Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St., Tampa. Sept. 29: 8 p.m. $38.50-$139.50. tampatheatre.org. —CS 

What a perfect venue for Threepenny Opera, an iconic theatrical experience blending music, lyrics, dance, politics, spoken theatre, set design, agitprop, small orchestra on stage, intentional alienation, a veritable frisson of decay and depravity in front of our very eyes. What's not to like? One critic calls it “the weightiest possible lowbrow opera for highbrows and the most full-blooded highbrow musical for lowbrows.” Originating in the 1930s, this show paved the way for such musical theatrical depictions of decadence as CabaretChicago and Spring Awakening. The show features “Mack the Knife,” now a jazz standard covered by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Bublé and others, and “Pirate Jenny,” covered by Nina Simone and Judy Collins. Pet Shop Boys, Tom Waits, even William S. Burroughs have all released recordings of Threepenny Opera selections. Must be something here, don’t you think!?! Should provide an astringent alternative to other Broadway schmaltz schmoozing its way through our local theatre scene. Don’t miss it. Shimberg at the Straz Center, 1010 N. WC MacInnes Place, Tampa. Oct. 18-Nov. 12. $29.50. strazcenter.org—Ben Wiley 

I also can't wait for Fun Home. This is Alison Bechdel’s stunningly funny and poignant coming-out memoir from 2006, now a powerful Broadway musical (Tony for Best Musical in 2015). She explores her lesbian identity in the midst of a dysfunctional family, haunted by depression and her own father’s closeted homosexuality. This sounds grim and pathological, but it is anything but! Let me reiterate: stunningly funny and poignant. Originally a graphic novel where Alison illustrates her dark family history with sweetly gothic drawings, her book became a musical with all the charm and darkness intact. The family’s ‘fun home,’ as Alison and her brothers refer to it, becomes the basis of this Broadway musical about a complicated, and complex, and loving, family. Shimberg at the Straz Center, 1010 N. WC MacInnes Place, Tampa, Nov. 28-Dec. 3. strazcenter.org. —Ben Wiley

Two prominent places have had leadership changes this past year — St. Pete's Museum of Fine Arts and the Florida Humanities Council, a state-wide council headquartered at USF St. Petersburg. I'm over-the-moon excited to see what Kristin Shepherd is going to do with the MFA, a beloved institution that seemed, in the past few years, a bit a victim of the "We always do it this way" syndrome. And as for the FHC, the shakeup with staff and leadership had those close to them a-twitter, but Steve Seibert — a longtime board member and passionate supporter of FHC — spent a delightful morning with me talking about the future of the humanities and their role in Florida. Keep your eyes on fine-arts.org and floridahumanities.org to see what changes come about. —CS

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this preview listed the wrong date for CITY, the Tampa Museum of Arts' fashion event with Susanne Bartsch. The date, now correct in the copy above, is Sept. 9.

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About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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