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USF St. Petersburg Brings Live Theater To Students

Opening performance
Nicole Slaughter Graham
WUSF Public Media
The opening performance at Short & Sweet Theatre Week at USF St. Petersburg

Across the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, both students and the public are finding a smattering of free live performances to enjoy. The inaugural Short and Sweet Theatre Week kicked off Monday, bringing the arts to the university.

Ann Wykell, USF St. Petersburg’s Places, Spaces and Art coordinator, plans an event each year that highlights different sections of the arts. This year, she wanted to bring live performances to campus, but she had to get creative.

“How do you do theater on a campus that doesn’t have a theater?” she said, pointing out that the campus lacks a proper performance space.

Wykell wasn’t deterred. The students didn’t need four walls and a traditional stage to be able to enjoy live performances, she said.

In place of a traditional theater, Wykell decided to put the entire USF St. Petersburg campus to use. Performances are being held outside, in the student recreation center, on outdoor patios, and in building common areas.

"The arts are part of a complete education for students of all ages,” she said. “We wanted to have some theatrical experiences for our students and this seemed to be a good way to try it out."

A series of short, simple performances are taking place during the weeklong festival, featuring a variety of options for students to choose from: improv, monologues, two-person plays, and hybrid-style performances are on the schedule.

Local professional artists are also excited to bring their work to USF St. Pete. Dancer and performer Helen Hansen French, who performed on Monday night, was happy to share her talents with the university community.

"I'm always inspired when I can see art intertwine itself in any other aspect of my community or my culture and so I think sometimes on academic campuses, we forget that art and culture are what make what we're studying come to life."

Another professional performer, Mimi Rice, said that Wykell's vision of performances all over campus rather than in one building is how theater should be experienced.

Theatre week performance
Credit NIcole Slaughter Graham / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
An improv performance held at USF St. Petersburg's student recreation center

"It can be done in a classroom, it can be interdisciplinary, it can be outdoors, it can be two people improvising. It doesn't need a theater.”

Short and Sweet Theatre Week runs through Thursday with two performances each evening.

Remaining schedule:

Death and Other Errors in Judgement. Ten short, surreal plays written by Matt Cowley. Directed by Vicki Daignault.
Tuesday, April 9 at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. at Lynn Pippinger Hall Collaboration Lounge.

Tales Thrice Told. Three original plays written and performed by Fanni Green, Bob Devic Jones and Maureen McDole. Co-presented with Studio@
Tuesday, April 9 at 5:15 and 6:30 p.m. at Lynn Pippinger Hall Auditorium.

She Speaks. Staged readings performed by Eugenie Bondurant, Stephanie Roberts, Mimi Rice and Vanesa Rendon. Directed by Vicki Daignault.
Wednesday, April 10 at 5:15 p.m. at the Edge.

Hello. Immersive performance by Chris Crawford and Anthony R. Smith.
Wednesday, April 10 and Thursday, April 11 at 6:15 p.m. at the Grind.

Cabaret. Performed by students from USF Tampa School of Theatre and Dance.
Thursday, April 11 at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. at the Edge.

Nicole Slaughter Graham is a WUSF Stephen Noble Intern for the 2019 spring semester.
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