Jobsite Theater co-founder and Producing Artistic Director is right when it says that “Nothing can replace the dynamic, emergent, and communal magic of a live event,” but let’s face it: Ain’t nobody getting together, shoulder-to-shoulder, in one of Tampa Bay’s local theaters anytime soon.
So with that in mind, Jobsite, like many other local companies, has adapted.
On Wednesday, the downtown Tampa-based company announced two new online series: “One From the Vaults” and “Socially-Distant Soliloquies.”
The former is a mix of written, photo-essay, and video stories with an emphasis on mementoes and memorabilia from the best shows of Jobsite’s 21-year-run. The content will be delivered by Jobsite artists in self-isolation, and Artistic Associate Paul Potenza gets to go first.
“Socially-Distant Soliloquies” features an initial group of 21 performers from Jobsite’s past Shakespeare-related productions choosing any of The Bard of Avon’s set speeches, soliloquies, or sonnets, then performing it in a mundane, socially-distant setting. Cornelio Aguilera, Matt Aquard, Patrick A. Jackson, Sadie Lockhart, Kara Sotakoun, Katrina Stevenson—all from Jobsite’s smash presentation of “Midsummer”—are already on deck to participate.
The new installments are just the latest Jobsite projects that finds the company reaching out to Tampa Bay theater lovers during quarantine.
In April, Florida Bjorkestra maestro Jeremy Douglass tapped five members his ensemble, plus 17 from Jobsite for, an split-screen, socially-isolated cover of Tina Turner’s ’80s hit “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” which was in the 1985 film “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.”
When he released the video early this month Douglass told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that he had the song on his mind since he and Bjorkestra puppeteer and St. Petersburg College grad Chelsea Hooker were supposed to sing it at a Jobsite gala last year.
“Last week, I realized how relevant it is to right now,” Douglass said. The clip was just supposed to be Hooker and a four-piece band, but the Jobsite crew submitted videos, to. He said the process took about two days.
“Not like we all have much else going on right now so it was pretty easy to find the time,” Douglass added. He and just about everyone in the Florida Bjorkestra are full-time musicians.
“Some have day jobs but not all can transition to work from home so they’re furloughed or straight up laid off. It’s just gruesome,” Douglass explained. He lost three musicals on March 13 alone, and was already preparing for American Stage’s “Footloose” in Demens Landing, for which he was music director.
Douglass’ days off were devoted to rehearsing for the Bjorkestra’s “Buffyfest.” The third installment of the beloved concert performance of “Once More With Feeling,” the musical episode from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” was supposed to be on April 11, but now it’s indefinitely postponed. As a love letter to the many ticketholders and fellow Buffy fans everywhere, the ensemble recorded a performance of “Walk Through The Fire.”
“Couple all that with my wife getting a cancer diagnosis in [February] and a mastectomy that happened on [March 26] and you’ll get an idea of the anxiety in this house,” Douglass said.
Other local theaters are turning their anxieties into something productive, too.
American Stage—which has also worked with Douglass and Florida Bjorkestra—started a “Spotlight” podcast to connect with its community.
Powerstories Theatre is celebrating its 20th anniversary by collecting stories of joy during the pandemic. The “#positivelypowerstories” clips have been playing since April 7.
And at freeFall Theatre Company, Artistic Director Eric Davis and Resident Dramaturg, Timothy Saunders—together with Associate Artistic Director, Chris Crawford and Community Outreach Director, Matthew McGee—have been leading Zoom discussions about different National Theatre at Home productions being aired on YouTube.
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