• Kuniko Yamamoto Unfolds

    The 2019 SaraSolo Outstanding Performance Art Award winner has created an original play premiering in the FallFest

    ORIGAMI MONOLOGUE

    Written and Performed by Kuniko Yamamoto

    After years of telling folk tales utilizing her mastery of the ancient paper-folding art of origami as an outward prop, Kuniko turns inward instead to unfold a deeply personal tale of transformation. She finds mesmerizing that all of nature "folds" including our DNA and without folding we are not here. The folded paper crane is external and she learns to see herself as the origami.

    SaraSolo Co-founders Ann Morrison and Blake Walton talk with Kuniko

    About Kuniko

     A native of Japan, Kuniko started performing professionally in Osaka where she grew up studying traditional dance, music and theater. In 1985, she received national exposure performing Japanese Storytelling Kansai National TV. The following year, traveled to the United States to study with Tony Montanaro. Kuniko has performed in numerous venues such as: The Kennedy Center (Washington DC) Disney Epcot Japanese Pavilion National Storytelling Festival Over the last two decades she has presented her programs international's for more than 3,000 schools and theatres. She is the recipient of the 2019 SaraSolo Festival "Outstanding Performance Art Award."

  • Meet Slake Counts

    "Becoming Burroughs" will be streamed 3 times Thanksgiving Week November 24-28

    Schedule announcement and ticket sales before November 1

    Becoming Burroughs

    Written and Performed by Slake Counts

    Anna Brennen, Director & Script Consultant

    "What a horrible loutish planet this is. The dominant species consists of sadistic morons, faces bearing the hideous lineaments of spiritual famine swollen with stupid hate. Hopeless rubbish!" - William S. Burroughs


    Burroughs re-examines his life, friends, and family in a jarring, sometimes harrowing and circuitous journey through some of his most controversial works, ideas and experiences. He provides the viewer with the tools and equipment to explore Burroughs further and to possibly explore their own place in this often-magical universe.

    SaraSolo Co-founders

    Ann Morrison & Blake Walton Interview Slake

     

     

    Slake Counts (performer/writer) is a stage and film actor, writer, poet, and artist and began to allow the likes of Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, Ginsburg, Kerouac and other questionable suspects to roam around and make well-worn paths in his grey matter many moons ago. Like Burroughs, Slake also studied Anthropology in college and in fact has a M.A. in Applied Medical Anthropology.

     

    Anna Brennen (director/script consultant) received her formal theatre training at Carnegie Mellon and the University of California, Berkeley. She studied with Sandy Meisner (Neighborhood Playhouse), Mira Rostova (Moscow Art Theatre), Wynn Handmann (American Place) and Lloyd Richards (Yale University Drama School).

    Anna’s professional acting credits include understudying Colleen Dewhurst in Hamlet and the three leads in Much Ado About Nothing for the New York Shakespeare Festival. She appeared with the Theatre for New York City, Playwrights Horizons and the Chelsea Theatre, and directed plays in California and New York before coming to Tampa Bay.

    As a playwright, Anna’s first play, Sleepless Dancer (Victims 3), had an Equity showcase production at N.E.T.W.O.R.K. in New York City in 1980. She received a Florida Arts Council Playwriting Fellowship in 1981 and in 1989, received an Emerging Artists grant from the Hillsborough County Arts Council for her new play, Echo Nevada. Anna Brennen has produced or directed more than 90 mainstage shows in Tampa.

    In 2006, Anna was given the Artist of the Year Award by the Mayor of the City of Tampa, Pam Iorio. Honored by the Rotary Club of Tampa’s 2014 Unsung Hero Award and Theatre Tampa Bay’s 2014 Visionary Award.

     

  • Blake Walton

    is back

    Co-founder and Managing Director has moved permanently to Sarasota

    See the video interview with Ann Morrison on SaraSolo TV

  • meet

    Marcus Cruz

    SaraSolo Board Member

    Back to School with SaraSolo

    Student Liaison Marcus Cruz

    by Maureen A. Martin

    “Classes today are all about when the norm changed,” muses Booker High VPA senior and SaraSolo student liaison Marcus Cruz. But, he adds, that norm keeps changing. First in March, with hastily assembled remote programs. A summer 'staycation' where the challenge of home confinement produced unexpected layers of self-awareness. And finally, a physical return…and altered reality…and a Covid-19 final year.

     

    “Nerve-wracking,” he says of suddenly being around so many people. “I came back in person because I figured it would be easier with theater—and the more demanding courses in my schedule.”

    An advance-placement student who has amassed college credits during high school and immersed himself in arts masterclasses as well, Marcus thought he was well-prepared for the routine balance of schoolwork, performance, and life. But the pressures have increased with the changing norm. Exponentially.

     

     

    Below: Working as a "safe-distance-reminder" mime at a SPAACES art exhibit downtown during Covid 19

    "The dynamics of school have tumbled into a new context."

    “My mom is a breast-cancer survivor,” he interjects quietly. “As a result, she has a compromised immune system; and my going to school increases the risks for her and for all of us…my dad, my sisters, and me.” But she, too, is working again as the family pushes back against Covid.

     

    The dynamics of school have tumbled into a new context. Although there are fewer students on campus than in past semesters, connecting after months of sequestering seems awkward and strange.

     

    “This reapplied pressure to be with people is different from the usual end-of-vacation, back-to-school days,” Marcus says, pausing to examine and sum up the various whys.

     

    “You have to dress nice and deal with new regulations and having staff enforcing social distancing,” he begins, stating the obvious first. “But the summer quarantine gave us all an opportunity to reassess and make changes. Now, you wonder how do you fit yourself back into that equation…and will anyone notice the changes?”

     

    While he professes to struggle with self-confidence and self-assurance (a malady particularly endemic to actors and other theater professionals), his words and actions belie that image.

     

    Below: Marcus Cruz left, and Evan Huit, in Tuck Everlasting at Booker High School] PROVIDED BY CHUCK MANAHAN

    “Freshman year I learned not to be afraid to sing on stage,” he explains. “I felt my shoulders unshrug and it felt good, empowering. So I build on that. It’s not just about understanding a character. It’s about understanding myself, and as long as I don’t give up on me, I’m okay.”

     

    Although he claims to be taking things slower, Marcus is emerging from an active and productive summer sequester. In his time of re-assessment, he explored interests and activities sidelined in his fast-track pursuit of theater: zoology, psychology, traditional art, poetry, journalizing in words and drawings.

    “I revisited and became more focused,” he considers. Overcoming the chaos of quarantine, he was able to continue voice lessons, audition for the Asolo Rep (“good practice and quite fun”), make headway on college applications (“Being in New York City is the dream”), and having a break-through experience in a masterclass with Dear Evan Hansen’s Will Roland (“the best two hours in ten minutes that I’ve ever experienced”).

     

    Apart from his career aspirations, Marcus uncovered a (slightly tarnished) silver lining in a close-to-devastating covid-19 experience. The family, which has endured multiple moves since relocating from Puerto Rico to the mainland when Marcus was in elementary school, was faced with redefining home once again. “I think of it as moving during a smaller version of the Plague,” he expounds with wry detachment. “But we climbed out and survived.”

    And he had a new bedroom on which to place his personal stamp, drawing on the eclectic artist within. The walls sport repurposed and self-created art from a purchased print of a street musician with cat to a fake rose in pastel oils to abstract personalized handprints and a spray-paint vision of space.

    “There’s a funky side of me that wants equal exposure with the traditional,” he acknowledges. And he taps into that otherness via color, form, or a single word. “I let it take over and then dance and move to its rhythm.”

     

    Below: Marcus in his solo play "The Home of Gypsy Boy " developed through SaraSolo's SoloSynergy workshop with the Booker High School VPA Junior Class

    "I don’t think that would have happened if I hadn’t had the experience of writing all about me and feeling comfortable expressing that vulnerability.”

     

    Last year, as a Booker High junior in the Visual and Performing Arts curriculum, Marcus was recruited for SaraSolo’s SoloSynergy program Flying Solo, which leads students to delve into their own unique selves and create a self-made personal solo performance piece.

     

    “Solo theater has given me a sense of confidence I didn’t have before,” he reflects. “I was working on my solo play at the same time I was cast as my first-ever named featured role—Hugo in Tuck Everlasting. I had three songs…lines…I even got my own spotlight and was on stage by myself! I don’t think that would have happened if I hadn’t had the experience of writing all about me and feeling comfortable expressing that vulnerability.”

     

    In ensemble work, he noticed a tendency to compare himself and his choices to other performers and approaches. “SoloSynergy showed me that people will enjoy my performance and that I don’t need to search for validation.”

     

    Below: Marcus (bottom center) with fellow Booker VPA students

    “I have so many ideas,” he emphasizes. “Of things I want to do. Life has taught me to jump at any opportunity offered and make it mine.”

    In ensemble work, he noticed a tendency to compare himself and his choices to other performers and approaches. “SoloSynergy showed me that people will enjoy my performance and that I don’t need to search for validation.”

     

    As an actor, Marcus Cruz remains hungry for more, and his post Covid future definitely looks promising given his vast array of talents and passions.

    “I have so many ideas,” he emphasizes. “Of things I want to do. Life has taught me to jump at any opportunity offered and make it mine.”

     

    Beyond that, he wants to share, to educate. “I see myself practicing my art—performing and assisting in productions—and sharing insights with the next generation on how to grow and change as artists.”

     

    For Marcus, making it is about giving in to curiosity and spreading the wealth (knowledge, education, what life will teach him). “I want it all,” he acknowledges. “Whatever comes my way.”

     

    Now back to the books, scripts, the stage, and—oh yes, college applications.

  • Annie Hints at performers for 2020 FallFest

    Artistic Director Ann Morrison

    Education Outreach

    Blake Walton in conversation with SaraSolo Education Liaison Carol Wolf

    Through Zoom, we've met and worked with our Booker Middle VPA students in the intergenerational program "The Bridge." They meet and interact with their 60+ adult counterparts through Zoom for the first time this week to practice active/creative listening skills.

    (2018 participants pictured above)