From reading tweets and Facebook posts and hearing snippets of conversation, I gather there's something interesting going on in the world of baseball. I think football season started not too long ago too, though as far as I can tell football is on TV all day, every day, all year 'round. But lately I hear more talk about how bad the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are, so it must be football time. Maybe it's basketball season, too, I don't know.
I'm not a sports guy, and just don't get the excitement people feel about watching people hit balls with sticks or beat the tar out of each other.
But that same kind of excitement most guys I know feel at the beginning of football season, I'm feeling now because performing arts seasons are starting.
The past few months have been long and intellectually arid but I've muddled through. I've rewatched every episode of "Rectify." I've caught up with all the episodes of "Dexter" I missed while Bright House wasn't carrying Showtime, and finally made it through to the disappointing finale. I've re-read a couple of my favorite books and seen the scattering of strong shows from the Manatee Players and Banyan Theatre, among others.
Performing arts seasons don't start with the fanfare of, say, the NFL season, but this week the arts exploded for me. In the space of four days, I'll immerse myself in two different versions of "Romeo and Juliet" -- the Shakespeare play from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory, and the Gounod Opera from the wonderful St. Petersburg Opera. American Stage has a production of "The Birds" by Conor McPherson, one of my favorite contemporary playwrights, whose words and ideas shake me to my core every time I experience them. And, in the same four days, there's another play in Tampa, "A Raisin in the Sun," that I want to squeeze in.
That's just the start. Modern dance is maybe my favorite art form, and Tere O'Connor Dance is coming to the Ringling International Arts Festival this week (see story at right). I've been waiting a very long time to see them again. Sarasota Ballet and Sarasota Opera will be starting up before long,
and so will Asolo Rep and Florida Studio Theatre.
Manatee Players promises to continue to do great things in its new home and Players Theatre in Sarasota has me excited in the few productions I've been able to catch there. And, although it's still a few months off, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is staging "The Whipping Man," one of the best plays I've ever seen," early next year and I'm already jazzed about it.
Most people I know don't get so excited about performing arts seasons starting. They don't get it and that's OK.
But while the sports fans are watching an exactly equal number of winners and losers, and feeling sad for days if their home team loses, I'll be watching nothing but winners, champions of ideas and athleticism. I get to root for every single person on every single stage. When the houselights come on, everybody has won.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919.