Florida Studio Theatre Improv brings excitement to Sarasota

If there’s one thing that you can find an abundance of at Florida Studio Theatre Improv, it’s laughter. Florida Studio Theatre  is located in downtown Sarasota off Palm Avenue. The theatre features musicals, plays, improv and a full restaurant and bar.

Palm Ave

 

 

 

 

The FST Improv troupe has a new show every Saturday night.   This season’s show is called Out of Bounds. It incorporates two teams that compete for points given by the audience. The teams can range from as little as two cast members to as many as four. The winning team receives a trophy they get to keep until next week’s show where they compete all over again.

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One of the most important aspects of improv is rehearsal. The entire troupe gathers at 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays to practice improv games and discuss how to improve their acting.  Darryl Knapp is a performer for FST Improv.

“I think rehearsal is very important because it is good for camaraderie for one thing, to get to know other players,” said Knapp.

Rehearsal

Normally one wouldn’t think of preparation as something that goes into a show that is thought up on the spot. However Chris Friday, who also performs with FST Improv, feels strongly that it is preparation is key.

“It’s very important. We don’t rehearse what we’re going to do in the shows as far as these are the lines we’re going to use or any of those kinds of things. Because we’re really creating the show with the audience in the moment. But you rehearse the technique of the game and part of that rehearsal and part of what makes an improve show go so well is playing with people,” said Friday.

FST Improv also features piano accompaniment. Not all improv troupes have a pianist to accompany the scenes, so FST makes use of the piano to enhance the shows. Pianist Hunter Brown brings his unique skills to the table.

“I’ve been playing piano since I was 8 years old. And I was like ‘yeah sure’ so I ended up playing a little diddy from there, for some reason they had enough faith in me to be the accompanist for this and I had no idea what to get into. But I was just like ‘yeah sure I’ll do it’. And from there I guess it ended up turning out really well cause I feel like my talents suit improve pretty well,” said Brown.

Hunter Brown

The Florida Studio Theatre tries to get as much audience participation as possible. They lay out suggestion cards on the tables before the performance that the audience can fill out. The scenes are then used in the shows.

Scenes from a Can

Improv is a popular thing, not only in the Tampa area but also around the country. Edith Jones is an audience member for one of the Out of Bounds shows.

“I love improv. But I’ve never been to it in Sarasota so I thought it would be fun to see how it is. I’m looking forward to it,” said Jones.

There is no doubt that when you go to an FST show, you’ll have a great time.

 

Goodwill Manasota Vice President Makes Impact in Manatee/Sarasota Area

 

Veronica Miller is many things. She is a vice president, philanthropist and graphic designer.  She is now the vice president of the foundation for Goodwill Manasota in the Manatee/Sarasota area. She has been working in the nonprofit sector for 25 years , four of which she has spent with Goodwill.

“I have the best job. I get to help promote the mission. That could be through talking to donors, talking to companies and getting them to want to become our partners and sponsor us,” Miller said.

For her, something crazy is always happening. Most recently, it was the Mardi Gras event held annually by the foundation.

“It was actually the 10th anniversary for Goodwill’s Mardi Gras. The former CEO’s sister runs the Goodwill in Louisiana, and after Hurricane Katrina, they lost a lot,” Miller said.

Since then, the foundation holds this event every year to raise money to help Goodwill in Louisiana, raising nearly $150,000 just this year.

When Miller is not working, she enjoys traveling and bike riding.  She and her husband have traveled around the world to places such as the city of Budapest.

Miller’s employees have nothing but good things to say about her.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot in the short time that I’ve been here. And that’s because of Veronica,”said Kelly Strausbaugh, the marketing and PR coordinator.” Everbody loves her in the community. She’s very philanthropic. She’s good at cultivating people and getting them involved in something and making them feel a part of what we’re involved in.”

 

USF celebration kicks off Black Heritage Month

 

With Black Heritage Month underway at the University of South Florida, the Department of Multicultural Affairs kicked off the month of celebration in style. They threw a ceremony that featured music, speeches, dancing and food.

To many, February is just another month. But for others, it has great importance in their lives.

“Black history month means a lot to me, especially this event,” said Dr. Tomar Ghansah, an assistant professor in USF’s Department of Molecular Medicine. She voiced her enthusiasm for what the Department of Multicultural Affairs is doing. “It gives me the opportunity to congregate with other diverse minorities.”

The keynote speaker for the evening was Delatorro McNeal. He is a Tampa area resident who attended Florida State University. His goal was to inspire the attendees of the event, and many said he did just that.

“I believe there is a few principles that we can learn from our foremothers and forefathers that, if we reach back and get them things and apply them to our lives, we can have a powerful today and an explosive tomorrow,” McNeal said.

The speaker’s enthusiasm spurred the audience to interact with him. He even gave out books and DVDs at the end of his presentation.

Many say the most important thing to remember about Black Heritage Month is honoring all of the prominent figures that made an impact in people’s lives. Sujit Chemburkar is the director of the Marshall Student Center at USF and spoke about the figure he looks up to the most.

“Arthur Ashe has always been a figure, for me, that has been motivational and inspirational — the barriers that he broke down and the way he did it with class,” Chemburkar said. “He demonstrated a lot of athletic prowess, but more than that, he was just a person of good moral character.”