A Brooklyn comedy duo named after an infamous American Idol spin-off is launching an improv festival in Ybor City.
The Countdown Improv Festival story sounds off the wall enough to form the basis of an improv routine. But so far it has worked quite well. The improv extravaganza returns to Tampa and Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor Performing Arts Building for the sixth year August 11-13, featuring 67 acts from Tampa Bay, Florida, the US and even parts of Canada.
How did it happen? In a video on the festival website, co-founder Justin Peters, one half of the improv duo From Justin to Kelly, jokes that they were looking for a place where chickens roam free and cars roam the streets with loud music until the morning . In an interview, festival co-founder Kelly Buttermore, the other half of “From Justin to Kelly,” expands on her comedy partner’s explanation.
“The original intent of what we thought the festival would be in 2017 was a pop-up festival that would travel from one year to the next,” says Buttermore. “But we just loved being in Ybor so much that we decided to put down roots and build this up.”
Justin Peters and Kelly Buttermore, comedy partners in Brooklyn-based improv duo From Justin to Kelly, decided six years ago to start their own improv festival.
Countdown Improv sets itself apart from other festivals by focusing on solo, duo and trio improvisation in small groups.
“Nobody can hide in groups of one, two or three,” says Buttermore. “You just have to make it work. It lends itself to innovative and boundary-pushing fun work simply because you’re up there. It’s a bit riskier and a bit more daring, but there’s also more room for creativity and innovation within the piece.”
A sample of the acts in store is “Solovela,” a solo improvisational telenovela in which a woman, Plantation’s improv comedian Diane Jorge, plays all the characters. There’s “I Am the Show,” where the audience chooses a movie that plays without sound, and Chicago improviser Chris George does the dialogue, sound effects, and music. In “Cuzzins,” a duo of real-life cousins, Miami-based David H. Hepburn and Alex Taylor, offer comical group therapy through audience questions and enactments of possible solutions.
With the large cast, the performances will take place simultaneously on three stages at the HCC Ybor Performing Arts Building.
There are also workshops to learn and hone improvisational skills, including a free workshop on Saturday 13 August for beginners.
For more information, see Countdown Improv Festival.
Tampa International Fringe Festival
Countdown Improv isn’t the only fun-loving, irreverent festival happening in Ybor this month. The sixth annual Tampa International Fringe Festival is underway and will run through August 7th at the HCC Ybor Performing Arts Building.
The Tampa event and other like-minded gatherings around the world are inspired by a group of artists in Scotland who performed on the ‘fringe’ of the city-curated festival in 1947 as an act of rebellion against the event. The eclectic line-up includes cabaret, burlesque, uncomfortable comedians who tell stories instead of jokes, a clown/magician from Brazil, theatre, opera, children’s events and more.
For more information, see Tampa edge.
The Carrollwood Cultural Center releases the 2022-23 schedule
The Carrollwood Cultural Center has released its theater schedule for 2022-23. The upcoming season, titled A Season of Classics, kicks off with Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play, which runs December 2-11. The holiday-themed show is an adaptation of Lance Arthur Smith’s 1947 Lux radio show and features original songs and arrangements by composer/arranger Jon Lorenz.
The diverse selection of classics from the season continues with Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie (February 17-26, 2023); and the musical Gypsy (April 28-May 7, 2023), with music by Jule Stone and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The season concludes with Monty Python’s Spamalot, a musical comedy based on the classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The outrageous retelling of the legend of King Arthur features book and lyrics by Monthy Python member Eric Idle, and music by Idle and British conductor and composer John Du Prez.
You can find more information about the 2022/23 season and ticket sales at Carrollwood Center.
Community Stepping Stones mural in Port Tampa Bay
An environmental mural by students from the Sulfur Springs community in Tampa is on display at Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal Six. Students in the Community Stepping Stones program made “One Waterway One Tampa Bay” from recyclable materials collected from beach cleanups and community cleanups in Sulfur Springs. Originally created nine years ago, the mural was restored this year by students at a Community Stepping Stones art camp and hung on World Oceans Day.
“Teaching conservation through art and allowing our students to interact directly with nature is an important part of the Community Stepping Stones program. We’re proud to be exhibiting at the port,” said Georgia Vahue, executive director of Community Stepping Stones, in a press statement.
For more information on the organization’s youth programs at Sulfur Springs, visit Community stepping stones.
“MULTIPLE: Twins Seven-Seven” at the Museum of Fine Arts. St. Petersburg
August 13th marks the opening night of the exhibition “MULTIPLE Twins Seven-Seven” by the late Nigerian graphic artist, painter and sculptor Prince Twins Seven-Seven at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg. The opening night for an exhibition by the late Nigerian artist Prince Twins Seven-Seven will be held on August 13 at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg.
The exhibit, drawn largely from the museum’s own collection, “mixes abstracted imagery of the physical world and evocations of the spirit world,” according to a description on the MFA’s website. The exhibition includes early prints, as well as textile paintings and a drawing from the 1970s, which are part of the MFA collection. The work of Prince Twins Seven-Seven blends traditional Yorùbá art with his own “sense of colour, pattern and evocation of spirits and dreams,” according to the MFA exhibition description.
For more information, see MFA St Petersburg Prince Twins Seven-Seven.
Rodin exhibition at the Polk Museum of Art
The works of legendary 19th-century sculptor Auguste Rodin are on display at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College in Lakeland in the Rodin: Contemplation and Dreams exhibit. The exhibition features more than 40 of Rodin’s bronze sculptures, making it the largest sculptural installation in the museum’s history. The Rodin exhibition runs until Sunday October 30th and admission is free.
For more information, see “Rodin: Contemplation and Dreams.”
Gobioff Foundation announces micro grants
The Gobioff Foundation has announced Microgrant Awards for upcoming projects by four local artists. Amanda Sieradzki’s Chorus Novae at Plant Park on the University of Tampa campus “will provide a platform for local choreographers to showcase their dance works outdoors in a non-traditional venue in celebration of National Dance Day,” according to a press release.
Susan Henley Fredricks’ “Fading Florida” at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin features portraits of Florida through a series of photopolymer gravure prints.
Sarah Walston’s Ghost in the Black Jacket at All That Dance in Tampa is a modern ballet that spotlights a “shifting sense of personal identity and mental health.”
Alicia Campos’ 100 Female Artists in the Art History of 100 Florida Female Artists calls on Florida female artists to be part of an art exhibition that promotes the work of gifted but often overlooked female artists from around the world.
The current Gobioff Foundation grant application cycle ends September 1 for projects taking place between November 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023.
For more information, see Gobioff Foundation Micro-Grants
“An artful home” at Atelier de SoSi
St. Petersburg art studio Atelier de SoSi debuts at its gallery space on August 12 with a new exhibition, An Artful Home. The gallery is transformed into a living space, showing how table settings, glassware, furniture, lighting, textiles and other art used in the home can be both functional and beautiful.
For more information, see “An artful home.”