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Tall ship theater sails into city for production

The Amara Zee's crew - which is also its troupe of players - will put on the newest production of the Caravan StageBarge.

By JON WILSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 5, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- With talk of tall ships bouncing around the city's waterfront, a high-masted vessel tied up in Bayboro Harbor is drawing attention.

It is not one of the ships due here later this month as part of Americas' Sail St. Petersburg, a maritime festival.

But the Amara Zee, billed as the first North American tall ship theater, is a nice piece of foreshadowing.

A frequent visitor, the Amara Zee's crew -- which is also its troupe of players -- will put on the newest production of the Caravan StageBarge, a seagoing professional theater group. The free shows are Thursday through Sunday at Poynter Park, Third Street S at Ninth Avenue.

Performances start at 9 each night and take place aboard the ship. Seating is first-come, first-served in the park, which is near the Dali Museum and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus.

The play, Red Tides, is based on the fish-killing plague that periodically drifts in the Gulf of Mexico. The show uses decks, masts, rigging and the water to display dance, song, aerial artistry, lighting effects, fire and a full-length score of contemporary music.

An aerial character called the Red Tidess represents the natural phenomenon. An amoral goddess, the Red Tidess explores the relationship of humans to the natural world and to the forces of history.

Six dancers, three aerial artists and four singing actors are under the direction of Caravan founders Paul Kirby and Adriana Kelder.

The Caravan troupe began 32 years ago as a one-wagon puppet show in Canada. It evolved into a 25-member group traveling on six wagons, then into the theatrical company aboard the Amara Zee. The ship is a 114-foot long replica of the Thames River sailing barges that haul goods to London. Traveling from port to port, the ship's company usually puts on plays with an environmental theme. Its winter port this past year was in St. Petersburg. It left in February, with stops scheduled in Clearwater, Port Charlotte, Mobile, Ala., and New Orleans before returning a few weeks ago.

St. Petersburg's first maritime festival is June 26-30. Several of the classically designed tall ships are expected as the marquee elements. They will visit here for prize ceremonies after racing between Curacao, which is just off Venezuela, to Jamaica.

To learn more

For information about the StageBarge production, call 515-8163.

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