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Florida Studio Theatre Presents Virtual Improv Festival

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Florida Studio Theatre Presents Virtual Improv Festival

Florida Studio Theatre has announced that it will present an online improv festival the same weekend its annual Sarasota Improv Festival was slated to take place: Friday, July 10 through Sunday, July 12.

Held completely online, this Festival features workshops, shows, and interviews with established improvisers from around the world, including Joe Bill (a founding member of Chicago's Annoyance Theater), Craig Cackowski (Quartet, Orange Tuxedo), and Gael Perry (French improv troupe, La Carpe Haute). Shows and interviews can be accessed for free on the Sarasota Improv Festival's Facebook page. Workshops will be conducted over Zoom and cost $30 each. To register for workshops, visit floridastudiotheatre.org or call FST's Box Office at 941-366-9000.

"During this time of year, FST would be putting the final touches on our annual comedic extravaganza, the Sarasota Improv Festival," said Will Luera, FST's Director of Improvisation. "Due to COVID-19, we had to cancel this destination event. Though it can't go on in its usual whirlwind Festival form, we've decided to virtually celebrate and recognize the event that has brought some of the best improv comedians in the world to Sarasota."

"A few weeks ago, I contacted some of the Festival's past acts about putting together a few 'reunions' over Zoom," continued Luera. "But improvisers, being the energized, creative people that they are, quickly submitted ideas for interviews, workshops, and virtual shows. While nothing will ever replace the actual in-person magic of our annual Fest, my hope is that this virtual line-up will allow our community to connect with some of their favorite comedians and make some new memories."

The virtual Festival kicks off Friday, July 10 with workshops led by Tara DeFrancisco (Founder and Artistic Director of The Nest Theatre in Columbus, OH) and Joe Bill, who is widely regarded as one of the best teachers of Scenic and Comedic Improvisation in America. At 8:30PM, There Goes the Neighborhood, a group of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) performers across the United States advocating for anti-racism in comedy, will perform a 30-minute show. After that, Joe Bill and FST Improv's Charles Gooch will team up to perform a lively long-form show at 9PM. A one-on-one interview with Madi Goff at 10PM wraps up the day's events. Goff is a member of Impro Theatre's Main Company and an alumna of The Groundlings Sunday Company.

Saturday, July 11 begins with a 10AM workshop with Craig Cackowski, an actor, improviser, and teacher who has performed with three improv groups-Dasariski, Orange Tuxedo, and Quartet-at festivals across the country. At 12:30PM, Festival favorite Parallelogramophonograph (Pgraph) will lead a workshop exploring how to make virtual improv more dynamic by utilizing the camera, microphone, and Zoom in fun and inspired new ways. Pgraph will then perform their signature style of narrative improv at 8:30PM, to be followed by a 9PM performance by another Austin-based improv group, Available Cupholders. The day's events will conclude with an in-depth interview with Joe Bill at 10PM.

The online Festival comes to a close on Sunday, July 12, with events featuring improvisers in France, Amsterdam, and New York City. Married last summer, Gael and Laura Doorneweerd-Perry have traveled the world performing improv for the past year. Gael co-founded La Carpe Haute, the main improv group in Strasbourg, France, and Laura is an artistic leader and trainer at TVA Impro, one of the largest improv associations in The Netherlands. At 10AM, the improv duo will lead an online workshop focused on creating dynamic, distinct characters, and at 12:30PM, they will "sit down" with Luera for a trans-Atlantic interview.

After that, several of Burn Manhattan's founding members-Matt Higgins, Jay Rhoderick, Kevin Scott, and Todd Stashwick-will reunite for an exclusive discussion moderated by Luera. Burn Manhattan was a pioneering improv group from the '90s known for their physical, organically-developed shows. Then Luera will interview Stacey Smith, a member of Boom Chicago in Amsterdam and of several Chicago-based improv groups, at 3PM about her experience performing and teaching internationally. The Festival comes to an end with a 4PM performance featuring an all-star cast.

For the complete list of participating improvisers, please visit floridastudiotheatre.org. Shows and interviews are free and can be accessed using the Sarasota Improv Festival's Facebook page. Festival workshops will take place over Zoom and cost $30 each. To register for a workshop, call FST's Box Office at 941-366-9000 or visit floridastudiotheatre.org.


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