Stageworks gets nearer to a home of its own

By JOHN FLEMING, Times Performing Arts Critic
Published November 19, 2007

The dream of Stageworks to have its own home came closer to reality with the announcement that the Tampa theater company has been named Bank of America's Hillsborough County Neighborhood Builder for 2007. The award, which comes with a $200,000 grant over the next two years, is in recognition of the company's pioneering development to build a theater in Tampa's Channel District.

Stageworks, celebrating its 25th anniversary, has been a vagabond for at least 15 years, performing in a variety of rented venues. Under founder and producing/artistic director Anna Brennen, this season's productions are being staged at the Shimberg Playhouse of Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and Gorilla Theatre. By next season, however, the company hopes to be in its own space, a 99-seat black box theater in the Grand Central at Kennedy mixed-use complex in the Channel District.

"We are very excited to be part of the revitalization of this new neighborhood," Stageworks board president Andrea Graham said in a statement. "The opening of our theater will help to entice other commercial activity in the neighborhood, emphasizing the role that the arts can play in economic development."

AIDS DAY: Tonight, theater artists from the Tampa Bay area will pay homage to World AIDS Day with a program of readings and music, "Creating a Quilt: A World AIDS Day Celebration." Performers will include Joe Parra, Sharon Scott, Bonnie Agan, Leonard Williams, Julie Rowe, Angela Bond and others. The performance is at 7:30 p.m. at American Stage, 211 Third St. S, St. Petersburg. $10, with a cash bar. 727 823-7529. Proceeds will go to FACT, which provides services to people living with HIV and AIDS. World AIDS Day is Dec. 1.

HELPS: Jerry Hui, a student at the University of Wisconsin, is winner of the 2008 Robert Helps International Composition Competition and a $10,000 prize. Hui's Between Water and Love, for chamber chorale, piano and clarinet, sets poems by Thomas Lovell Beddoes. It will be premiered in St. Petersburg during the Helps Festival in February.

John Fleming can be reached at (727) 893-8716 or fleming@sptimes.com.