SaraSolo Winter Fest Showcases the Power of One

Arts & Culture

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY FEB 13, 2020

Currently underway at the New College of Florida Black Box Theater, SaraSolo Winter Fest brings four solo performers to the stage this week for the first of three festivals planned this year, each celebrating the intimate art of the solo show. With two performances each night, Ann Morrison’s Linda Lovely Goes to Broadway, Bridget Bean’s Mrs. Bliss’s Titanic Adventure, Jonathan Gillard Daly’s An Evening of Carl Sandburg and Theresa Puskar’s Causeless Love comprise the inaugural showbill. Each show is roughly 70-90 minutes long.

Festival founder, and Sarasota’s own, Ann Morrison revives her 2012 award-winning one-woman-show Linda Lovely Goes to Broadway for Winter Fest, commemorating a treasured friend with a fictional final adventure and delivering a performance both intensely physical and emotional. Inspired by Morrison’s experiences teaching and collaborating with the real Linda, a passionate student of theater living with Down syndrome, this high-energy ode to the power of theater condenses years to minutes as it contains bursts of insight and emotion in bare snippets of song, chronicling a life-changing friendship unbounded by mere facts and reveling in the unseen universe behind every pair of eyes. Morrison changes character on a dime with the set of her shoulders, the point of her toes, the pitch of her voice, bringing a varied cast to life with easy confidence and comedic flair, unafraid to wade into all the thorny places in search of a blossom of truth. See the final performance this Saturday at 9pm.

With Mrs. Bliss’ Titanic Adventure, performer Bridget Bean sets the bar high with an imaginative and semi-autobiographical odyssey through her life, the cold black waters of the Atlantic and even time itself. Opening on Bean as a lonely actor in a traveling Titanic exhibition, an overactive imagination and an intriguing stranger soon pull our protagonist on an unreal adventure. With all the rambling charm of a spirited and freewheeling conversationalist, the narrative jumps in fits and starts, peppering the audience with Titanic trivia, personal tangents, lusty musings and morbid humor, all culminating in the honest and hilarious baring of an odd soul on a universal journey. Catch the final performance this Friday at 9pm.

Following in the fine tradition of the traveling troubadour, John Daly arrives from Milwaukee with his guitar and An Evening of Carl Sandburg, celebrating the life and work and Rules for Happiness of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and historian. Part biography, part poetry recitation and punctuated by folksy musical interludes, Daly takes the audience back to an era of train-hopping vagabonds and small town jail stints, nights spent under the open air of an apple orchard and the simple pleasures of a simpler time—but one still plagued by war, prejudice and inequality. As Sandburg’s story unravels and Daly ups the intensity, political sparks threaten conflagration and the story of a poet becomes emblematic of an ongoing battle for the soul of the country. See the performance tonight at 9pm or Friday at 7pm.

Hailing from Chicago by way of Canada, author and performer Theresa Puskar melds motivational speaking, autobiographical narrative and some humorously frank fairy tale princesses into her show, Causeless Joy. Named for the elusive meditative goal, Puskar’s performance charts a period of self-growth, wherein a deeply unsatisfied mother embarks on a one-month trip to India in a quest for enlightenment, happiness or anything that can make her troubles go away. Amidst culture shock at chaotic traffic crossings and hunk-filled horndog yoga sessions, Puskar gleans her greatest insights from the surprise visits of four fairy tale princesses, each revealing the truth behind the myth and forcing Puskar to take a long hard stare into the metaphorical looking glass. Think Rapunzel as Freud, complete with the accent. Deeply personal and with minimalist but creative prop-work, an at-times flagging narrative ultimately leads to a few devastating moments of truth. Upcoming performances are tonight at 7pm and Saturday at 7pm.

Caption: SaraSolo Founder Ann Morrison performing “Linda Lovely Goes to Broadway.” Photo by Sorcha Augustine.

For more information on the artists, scheduling and ticket prices.

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