Dog Days Has Arrived

Theater

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING WEDNESDAY JUL 12, 2017

Sarasota’s “off-season” keeps getting smaller and smaller, as cultural institutions expand programming into the summer months more and more. And this July, the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training jumps into the mix with the inaugural season of Dog Days Theatre, a two-production season running from July through August and opening yesterday with a production of Relatively Speaking.

“When the Banyan Theater left, there was a void in the community,” says Conservatory Director Greg Leaming. Running for years out of Asolo’s Cook Theatre, the Banyan Theater Company not only provided summer theater for audiences, but regularly cast students at the Conservatory as well, giving opportunity to local performers. With its close in 2016, summer theater in Sarasota took a hit, but Leaming ultimately saw opportunity in what would become Dog Days. “The year-round community is getting bigger and bigger,” he says, “so there’s definitely an audience for it.”

Determining programming for this inaugural season, Leaming wanted something “a bit lighter” to fit with the summer months, but without sacrificing literary value or intelligence. Dog Days productions may not drag the audience through the darkest depths of the human psyche, but there’s far more to theater than grim drama and the aim of Dog Days, he says, is to be “the rosé wine of theater”—quality and refreshing, but not overpowering. And for the community’s introduction to Dog Days, Relatively Speaking fit the bill.

Written by renowned and prolific playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn, Relatively Speaking catapulted Ayckbourn “to the top,” says Leaming, and remains “a great comedy about love, sex and the swinging ‘60s.” Centered around a young couple on the fast track to marriage, Ginny and Greg, their love turns into a comedy of errors when Ginny goes to collect compromising letters from an ex-lover and Greg follows behind, thinking he’s going to meet her parents. Currently onstage at the Asolo, the show runs through July 30, and is followed by the mystery noir, Double Indemnity, which opens August 8 and closes August 27.

Employing both students from the Conservatory and professional actors in the production, Leaming hopes Dog Days can serve both local audiences and actors in the off-season, meaning more performers make Sarasota their base of operations year-round and audiences yearning for more. “I’d like it to become a staple in the county,” says Leaming of Dog Days. “Something people look forward to every summer.”

For more information on Dog Days Theatre and Relatively Speaking, follow the link below.

Pictured, from left: Wyatt C. McNeil, Kelly Elizabeth Smith, David Kortemeier and Julia Gibson in "Relatively Speaking." Photo by John Revisky.

Dog Days Theatre

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