Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tampa Bay's packed with poet laureates

Gulfport's the latest town to crown a poet.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 3:34 PM

Margie Davis and Peter Hargitai. - CATHY SALUSTRI
  • Cathy Salustri
  • Margie Davis and Peter Hargitai.

True story: A group of poets is called an iamb, as in "-ambic pentameter."

Another true story: The Tampa Bay area now has an iamb not just of poets, but poet laureates. 

With the appointment of Peter Hargitai as Gulfport's poet laureate, the area now boasts four laureates. Eckerd College professor of poetry and nonfiction writing Helen Pruitt Wallace officially begins her tenure as St. Petersburg's new poet laureate in January, James Tokley serves as Hillsborough County's poet laureate, and the state poet laureate – Creative Loafing contributor Peter Meinke – lives in St. Petersburg. Before Governor Rick Scott appointed Meinke to the state poet laureate-ship, he served as St. Petersburg's poet laureate.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Light in the tunnel

A new conversation series connects through storytelling.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 10:36 PM

From left, panelists Jerry Rawicki, Beth Morean, Amy Foster, and organizer Ya Levy La’ford. - TIMOTHY ARRUDA
  • timothy arruda
  • From left, panelists Jerry Rawicki, Beth Morean, Amy Foster, and organizer Ya Levy La’ford.

Cocooned in a colorful tunnel, surrounded by soothing blue LEDs and sparkling metallic shapes, more than 60 students studying social justice at Shorecrest High School participated in a thought-provoking discussion Friday afternoon, during a community event presented by installation artist and educator Ya Levy La’ford in partnership with the Florida Holocaust Museum.

Second in a series of three, the program brought students together with educators, artists, politicians and other community members to share powerful stories inside the 85-foot-long tunnel adjacent to Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill in St. Petersburg — dubbed the Sunnel by La’ford, who created a permanent art installation in the space during September’s SHINE Mural Festival.

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Do This: Weekend Top 10

Festivals, sand sculptures, edgy new theater, Cranksgiving, indie bazaars and more.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 5:46 PM

CRAFTY AND DRAFTY: CL's Crafts and Drafts takes over the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club Saturday. - DANIEL VEINTIMILLA
  • daniel veintimilla
  • CRAFTY AND DRAFTY: CL's Crafts and Drafts takes over the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club Saturday.

It doesn't feel like fall outside but you can take a whirl inside Tampa's Downtown on Ice at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park will put a little chill in your cheeks and provide that elusive winter feeling. Admission is $12 per person. Ninety-minutes skating session includes skate rental. Open Friday, 4-10 p.m.; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visit tampasdowntownonice.com for more info.

Also at Curtis Hixon park this weekend: the Bourbon and Brew Festival. The boozy bash offers spirits for non-beer-drinkers, including  40 bourbon, whiskey and scotch samples, ranging from regular, to ultra premium and rare. Live entertainment includes Craig Campbell, Thomas Wynn and the Believers, Southern Train, the Logan Grant Band, Heather Lucas and DJ Lesage. $40-$65, $85-$125 VIP. bourbonandbrewfest.com.

Before they were glued to screens, kids whiled away hours building monuments from granules of beach sand and water. A few have grown up to be master sculptors who will show off masterpieces at Treasure Island’s Sanding Ovations Masters Cup Sand Sculpture Competition and Music Festival, this weekend. Bands playing the event include Bath Salt Zombies, Grant Peeples, Copious Jones, Rev. Funky D. & The New Diggz and other acts. Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Click here for event schedule and parking info.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

A bleakly fabulous finale brings the franchise to a bittersweet end.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 11:07 PM

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Directed by Francis Lawrence.
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland and Liam Hemsworth.
Opens Nov. 19 at local theaters.

The Hunger Games
franchise may have grossed more than $2.2 billion at box offices around the world, and may have dazzled us with ingenious eye candy, but critics and moviegoers alike have come away from the fashion-forward dystopia series with mixed feelings. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 does little to change this.

The story begins right where Mockingjay Part 1 leaves off, with Katniss in the hospital recovering from a near-fatal choking wound inflicted by a brainwashed Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Her onetime fiancee and fellow Hunger Games victor is still suspicious of her as she becomes more of a pawn, err, role model, in the revolution led by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore, who's assisted by former Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and Katniss’s former beau, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth).

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10 Questions for Straight No Chaser's Jerome Collins

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 11:54 AM

Jerome Collins (far right) lives in Florida. - LEANN MUELLER
  • LeAnn Mueller
  • Jerome Collins (far right) lives in Florida.

We caught up with Jerome Collins from Straight No Chaser, the men's a cappella group coming to the Straz Saturday night. Collins, one of the original members of Straight No Chaser, talked to us about his loves: his dog, music, and his wife (not, he stressed, necessarily in that order). 

1. You're a Florida boy. Where did you grow up, and where's home?
My father was born and raised in Cocoa Beach; I spent my summers down here and now I currently live in West Palm Beach. I’m originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

2.  You’re going to ping-pong across Florida this week – before Saturday in Tampa, you’re going from Melbourne to Sarasota to West Palm and then back to Tampa. This, of course, isn’t your first trip to the Tampa Bay area. If you could stay here for more than a night, what would you do?
I’m a big fan of the Tampa zoo [Lowry Park], it’s one of the best in the country. You’re talking to a Florida boy; there’s nothing like the beach. If I had more time we’re spend some time at the beach playing bocce ball, some cornhole. Florida, to me, is a place to come and relax.

3. What did you plan to do before Straight No Chaser became as big as it is?

I always wanted to be in the music business. Before this I was doing a stint as Simba in The Lion King over in Hong Kong. We had a vision of 10 guys who just wanted to sing for girls and food. It got bigger than our wildest dreams. We’re 10 friends from college who are, 20 years later, still singing together.

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Do This: Sanding Ovations

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 11:40 AM

  • Walter via Flickr/Creative Commons

Sure, creating them when we were little was an exercise in getting along with our siblings long enough to accomplish something, but face it: sand castles are not very original or interesting.

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Theater review: For Colored Girls... at The Space at 2106

A new West Tampa performance space opens in colorful style.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 10:30 AM

The ladies in orange and yellow (Marlene Peralta and Diana Hardy). - DANIEL VEINTIMILLA
  • daniel veintimilla
  • The ladies in orange and yellow (Marlene Peralta and Diana Hardy).

3.5 out of 5 stars
Runs through Nov. 22 at The Space at 2106, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., 
2106 W. Main St., Tampa, $20, thespaceat2106.com
With the recent onslaught of terror, Trump and tragedy, we could all use a good news break. Here’s something refreshing: A new performance space opened last Friday in West Tampa with an unconventionally uplifting night of theater, and it may just spur the revival of one of Tampa’s most neglected and charmingly historic districts.

Located near the corner of Albany and Main streets, the Space, aka The Space at 2106, is a multi-use venue with (mostly) repurposed contemporary decor designed by Urban Country Factory and financial partner Robert Morris. Organizers have plans for cultural events of a variety of types, all presented with one aim: promoting diversity.

Executive Artistic Director Jared O’Roark announced the Space’s hopeful manifesto during its opening night after-show Q&A. The director of the award-winning storytelling showcase and teen documentary, Project Shattered Silence, O’Roark left a 14-year position at Ruth Eckerd Hall as company/project manager to launch the venue.

O’Roark and Managing Artistic Director Erica Sutherlin were visibly elated to greet an eclectic, sold-out crowd last Friday night at the Space’s first-ever show, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf, a poetic and vivid portrait of the African-American woman in America. Performed with monologue, evocative verse, dance and music, For Colored Girls consists of personal tales and poetry that interweave and overlap, revealing common threads of oppression and sexism, as well as strength and triumph. The ambitious work, written in 1976 by Ntozake Shange, was the second play by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, after A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.

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Tonight: Got Jokes? Brings improv to The Improv

The multifaceted troupe performs at Tampa Improv Thursday night.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 9:21 AM


Got Jokes? is more than an improv troupe. They're a collection of comedians; they're a small business; they're a supporter of creative arts in the community; and they're the brainchild of founder Daniel Jefferson.

Prior to their show at Tampa Improv Thursday night, we asked Jefferson about what makes a great improv show, what he looks for when evaluating talent and how he keeps his head up as a Detroit sports fan.

CL: As the leader of the Got Jokes? crew, you get to have a lot of fun. But it also falls on you to manage the business part of things. How do you balance those roles? How do you keep everybody focused when actual work has to get done?

Jefferson: Evolution and empowerment. I'm a big proponent of personal growth. We're just at the cusp of eight years of operation, and I’ve learned over time that I can’t do this without help. It’s the only way that you scale a dream. Who better to help than the foundation that has helped build your brand?

Currently, I have appointed two long-term members as creative directors: Chuck Glass and Barry S. Naylor. Nina Ramdat, another local comedian, chips in as my Tampa operational manager. Together, this team helps me to manage Got Jokes? better than before while I focus on expansion in other segments of our business.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Laugh Tract — Who's Bringing the Funny

A full lineup of pre-Turkey Day comedy events.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 at 11:12 PM

There are two reasons why you should laugh it up before Thanksgiving.

One, you need the good humor before you deal with your family.

Two, the comedy schedule will be different next week, with most rooms going dark on Thursday.

Fortunately, there are plenty of good comedians in town to deliver whatever kind of material you most enjoy. So pick a stage and have a good time before facing family members you don't really want to see.

Here's the lineup:

Ninth Annual Crack-Up Cancer Comedy Benefit. This is comedy for a good cause, with a really good lineup. Dean Napolitano, Helen Keaney and Al Romas are respected headliners in their own right, but they'll all be on stage that evening, as well as others.
Showtime is Wednesday at 8 p.m. $25. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa (Ybor City). Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.

Got Jokes? at Tampa Improv. Got Jokes? is a long-running, award-winning local improvisational troupe, with talented actors and comedians on its roster. Every show is a little different, but that's what improv comedy is all about. Expect a fast-paced, creative show.
Showtime is Thursday at 8 p.m. $10. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa (Ybor City). Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Dance Review: A BEACON of hope in St. Pete

In the wake of violence, a night that honored human dignity.

Posted By on Sun, Nov 15, 2015 at 8:58 PM

Mourners pay tribute in Paris after the attacks. - SKYNEWS
  • SkyNews
  • Mourners pay tribute in Paris after the attacks.

Saturday morning, on a day when consciousness of the horrors in Paris threatened to block out thoughts of anything else, I heard an interview with choreographer Twyla Tharp on NPR (recorded before the Paris terror attacks) in which she talked about going back to work with her dancers in NYC the day after 9/11, only four days after the company had performed in the World Trade Center's outdoor plaza. (She also recalls that day in a journal, excerpted in the New York Times, that she wrote during her current cross-country tour.)

The story was familiar to me. I interviewed Tharp in New York shortly after the WTC attacks — I was living there at the time, and was in attendance at that WTC performance. The feelings she expresses now were similar to what she told me in 2001.

"Of course the magnitude and implications of this causes one to look for priority," she said then. "Should you be outside doing relief work, or should you be working at what you know how to do?"

I was pondering similar questions during the launch of BEACON, a new dance/performance series that premiered Saturday night at the Palladium in St. Pete. How do we sit and watch dance when the world is falling apart? How do artists continue making art in the wake of the inconceivable?

For Tharp, the answer was, if not easy, then inevitable: "We don't have a choice," she told me. "We can't stop doing what we do."

And, fortunately for the audience (and, I have no doubt, for the performers), BEACON showed us why art — and the particular art form of dance — are so necessary.  At the end of the program, after a moment of silence for the victims and survivors in Paris, co-founder Lauren Slone said that the series' ambition is to foster "a new way of thinking about human dignity in every single body" — a mission that the evening resoundingly carried out.

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