Monday, November 17, 2008

Picture Incomplete opens this year's Off Center Series - this weekend!

I have a special attachment to the Shimberg Playhouse. Of all five halls at TBPAC, I likely spend the second-most amount of my time in the building in that room (the first of course being my office).

The Shimberg hosts a lot of events, but my attachment is mostly to my own Jobsite Play Series as well as the Off Center Series.

Before Jobsite ever began working in the Shimberg, I watched shows in the Shimberg Playhouse (then the Off Center Theater) that I couldn't have seen anywhere else in the region.

In the 10 years I've been in Tampa I've seen gripping solo work like Danny Hoch's Jails, Hospitals and Hip Hop (my first Off Center show). I've been delighted by the female clown troupe Gams on the Lam (twice). I've had the opportunity to take workshops from the Gams and from Shawn McConneloug and Her Orchestra. There have been puppets, gay Jewish jugglers and a one man play about an artist who cut his ear off as written by Spock and performed by a USF alum. Karla Hartley has done an outstanding job bringing quality, innovative work to TBPAC year in and year out.

The importance of work like this can't be overstated. Truly, this sort of work exists no where else in the region. Like much of what we do at TBPAC, you simply won't find it anywhere else.

It's often difficult to attract an audience to unknown plays even by known local or national companies. It can be far more challenging to attract an audience to unknown work by unknown players.

To be blunt, in these difficult financial times work like this is often among the first to be put on the cutting block - despite how mission-oriented it might be. It's economics, plain and simple. It's why we're trying to make such a push for this year's series, so that's not even an option.

The first of this year's Off Center Series is this weekend. It's Picture Incomplete - a one man musical. I spoke to Karla last night, and she tells me how great the show sounds from the rehearsals they've already had in the building. Some TBPAC patrons may even remember Trent Armand Kendall from his performance in Diva Diaries a few years back. He's a driven performer who is taking time from his other gig - part of the national tour for The Color Purple - to bring his show to us in Tampa this weekend.

Not to hard sell or anything, but there is a special offer on this year's series for just $49 for all four shows available through this weekend. It's a great deal, check it out if you're interested. Trent is also offering a free workshop on Friday on the subject of creating a musical.

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