Scene & Heard


Scene & Heard


Date: February 29, 2012
by: Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor



+ Playwright program swimming in scripts
If you think you’ve got too much work on your plate, try sitting at Adam Ratner’s desk at Florida Studio Theatre.

The FST teaching artist and improv comedian is up to his waist in new submissions for the “Under Six” competition in this year’s WRITE A PLAY program.

Written by children in kindergarten through sixth grade, the plays are cleverly titled (“How the Evil Alien Became Nice,” “Oreo, the Lifeguard Dog,” “Bob the Donkey’s Job Search Adventure,” “Clean Your Dirty Desk” and “The Puppy Who Stole the Police Car”) and have come from all corners of the world. The theater even received one from a blind child that was written in Braille.

At last count, more than 3,000 playwrights submitted scripts, 10 of which will be performed this spring by professional actors in FST’s Keating Theatre. (I’m crossing my fingers for the donkey on a job search.)
In May, the winning playwrights and their families will be honored at the Young Playwrights Festival. May the best scribe win!

+ SMOA nets sculptor at ARTmuse luncheon
Wondering what’s shaking with the Sarasota Museum of Art since it unrolled its banners on Sarasota High School?

Well, the museum continues to host dynamic new artists at its regular ARTmuse programs. Last Thursday, sculptor Janet Echelman paid a visit to the future site of the museum — i.e., the former Sarasota High School building — where she spoke before the museum’s largest luncheon crowd yet: 117 people.
Echelman, a Harvard grad, is the museum’s third guest artist this season. Her unique public-art sculptures, created using nets, are an example of the kind of contemporary work that will one day grace the SMOA campus.

According to President Wendy Surkis, the museum, which will operate as a division of Ringling College of Art and Design, has now raised more than $14 million toward its $22 million fundraising goal.

+ Wallenda’s waterfall wish is coming true
As a native of Buffalo, N.Y., I can’t let Nik Wallenda’s impending wire walk over Niagara Falls slip by without at least one mention in this column.

Last fall, the Sarasota daredevil submitted a proposal to walk 1,800 feet between the American and Canadian sides of the Falls; a spectacle he assured officials would draw more than 120,000 spectators and at least one major television special on the Discovery Channel.

Hip to the merits of a good publicity stunt, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo immediately approved legislation authorizing Niagara Falls parks officials to approve the walk.

The Canadian side, however, was slow to warm to the idea.

In December, the Niagara Parks Commission in Ontario turned down Wallenda’s proposal, prompting Wallenda to embark on a relentless lobbying mission that finally paid off two weeks ago.

On Feb. 15, Canadian commissioners approved the act on the basis that “stunting” has always been a part of the “history and promotion of Niagara Falls.”

Wallenda is scheduled to cross 60 to 70 feet above the Niagara River Gorge sometime this summer. The date of the walk will be finalized by the end of this month.

According to a recent story in The Buffalo News, Wallenda says his dream is to parlay the stunt into a permanent summer attraction, which would mean making Niagara Falls “his second home,” marking the first time anyone from Sarasota has relocated to (and not from) Western New York.

+ Asolo Rep cuts ribbon on production
It’s about time the Asolo Rep cut the ribbon on the Robert and Beverly Koski Production Center.

The building, which houses the theater’s scene shop and vast costume and prop collection, has been open for two years and already has 22 shows under its tool belt.

On February 21, the 36,000-square-foot facility on Tallevast Road was officially dedicated to its benefactors — the late Robert Koski and wife, Beverly, who several years ago initiated the project together with a group of ambitious arts patrons. (We’re talking about you: Ted and Jean Weiller, Joan Armour Mendell, Warren Coville, Herman Frankel, David Bavar and Jim Chandler.)

Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards praised the group for its persistence at last week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“(This) team of movers and shakers scouted this foreclosed warehouse, researched the market assiduously, assembled the funding and struck while the iron was hot,” he said.

‘Disenchanted: Bitches of the Kingdom’: Sarasota’s favorite scorned princesses are back. After a successful (and raucous) run in October, the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre has decided to bring back its ‘Bitches’ for a second round of royal fury. The show returns Feb. 28 and runs through March 25. If you’ve ever scoffed at “happily ever after,” this is the musical for you. Snow White has never looked so angry … or empowered. For tickets, call 366-5454 or visit


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