Short & Sweet Theatre Week Brings Professional Thespians to Campus

Christopher Rutherford, Alex Jones, Helen Hansen French, Brian Fidalgo and Erin Cardinal perform Air-Earth-Wind-Fire. Credit: Tom Kramer.

(March 27, 2019) – The University of South Florida St. Petersburg will host its first ever Short & Sweet Theatre Week from April 8 to 11. Featuring seven performances that will run between 30 and 60 minutes each, the week-long event will showcase works written, directed, choreographed and performed by local and professional artists. Theatre Week is free and open to the public.

“Although we don’t have a theater program on campus, we can still offer a theatrical experience if we’re creative,” said Ann Wykell, USFSP’s Public Art Coordinator. “We’ve managed to bring top-quality professionals to perform creative and unusual works on campus.”

Taking place at the Edge, Lynn Pippenger Hall, the Grind and Harborwalk, the performances will include improvised comedy, cabaret, poetry and modern dance.

In conjunction with the performances, a series of workshops will take place between participating actors and the university’s English department, in which actors will attend select English classes and provide a thespian perspective on the professors’ syllabi. The aim is to bring theater directly into the classroom and enrich the coursework.

“It is wonderful to see students learn to take their texts off the page and into the shared classroom space through spoken word, just as these works were meant to be experienced,“ Wykell said.

Among the performances are Cabaret, a 45-minute musical cabaret performed by students from USF Tampa’s School of Theater and Dance, Tales Thrice Told, a multidisciplinary piece about memory and storytelling co-presented with Studio@620, and Air-Earth-Fire-Water, a dynamic mix of theater, dance and music that explores the relationships between science and human nature.

Samantha Miller and Helen Hansen French rehearse Air-Earth-Fire-Wind. Credit: Sheila Cowley

“The piece contains poignant moments between humans that are both theatrical and very real,” said co-choreographer Helen Hansen French, a St. Pete-native and Juilliard graduate who danced in New York City and internationally before settling back in St. Pete with her family. “In it, the dancers embody these kind of over-the-top moments, such as traffic jams or elements of physics.”

One of Air-Earth-Fire-Water’s most notable features is its unusual props: three full-sized parachutes. In some instances, the parachutes represent waves. In others, they act as clouds or an ethereal force that carries the dancers off stage.

Since art can sometimes seem out of touch with reality, one goal of Short & Sweet is to make it more accessible and relatable.

“A piece like ours does exactly what art should do,” French said. “It shows how accessible art can be. It isn’t just ephemeral. We’re talking about real things like science, physics and marine biology.”

She added, “I’m excited that an audience might discover theater on their campus and discover something new about themselves in the process.”

Find the complete Short & Sweet program below:

  • It’s a Living. Comedy improv night with Hawk and Wayne.
    Monday, April 8 at 5:15 and 5:30 p.m. at The Edge.
  • Air-Earth-Fire-Water. Dance performance written by Sheila Crowley. Choreographed by Helen Hansen French and Paula Kramer. Original score by A.J. Vaughn.
    Monday, April 8 at 5:15 and 6:30 p.m. at Outdoors at Haborwalk.
  • 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@620.
    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.