SaraSolo brings intergenerational Sarasota community together

Theresa Puskar, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Bridget Bean, and Ann Morrison each performed their own solo productions multiple times throughout the week.

by Kallie Delis

For the week of February 10 through 15, New College’s very own Black Box Theater played host to a series of solo performers. This was the 6th season of the festival that Ann Morrison and Blake Walton co-founded. The founders arranged for a variety of performers to present their work over the course of the week, each bringing a fresh perspective on life and humanity. 

The call sheet began with Bridget Bean, actress and director from Tampa Bay. Her performance in Mrs. Bliss’s Titanic Adventure – written and performed by Bean – followed the storyline of a character actress in a Titanic exhibit. Her character incidentally travels back in time to the actual tragic ship, and adventure ensues. Second chances are a central theme in her performance. 

Theresa Puskar was the next artist who performed, sharing her raw personal struggles and attempts to find herself while vacationing in another country. Her show Causeless Joy is not only an investigation of inner peace, but also a reimagining of fairytales like Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Princess and the P, and Rapunzel. These princesses offer more realistic advice to Theresa as she meditates and explores India. 

Yet another performer in the series was Jonathan Gillard Daly, who acted as Carl Sandburg in An Evening of Carl Sandburg. Directed by his wife, Gale Childs Daly, Jonathan Daly revives the work of the late poet, storyteller, and singer for a night of entertainment that draws audiences back to the days of the 1900s. The performance was written and performed by Jonathan Daly. 

Lastly, the co-founder Morrison performed a solo work that she wrote, directed by co-founder Blake Walton. This act centers around the story of Morrison’s friend Linda – a fellow writer and actress who has Down syndrome. In Linda Lovely Goes to Broadway, Linda road trips to New York in an effort to sing on stage on Broadway. Linda has other intentions that are discovered along the way, and bestows emotional lessons for those in her life. 

The audiences for each performance were an unexpected mix: older Sarasota residents, young adult New College students, and even a couple teenagers from local high schools. No matter the age or background, each audience member was attracted to the Black Box Theater this week for the common reason of appreciating fine arts. 

“There’s something wonderful about the intimacy, especially with solo [performance], because the audience is the other character,” co-founder Walton said. 

“Called the scene partner,” co-founder Morrison interjected. 

SaraSolo will continue their shift from annual two-weekend festivals to their new three-festival format, and they invite anyone to come experience the festivals for themselves. 

Kallie Delis is a fourth-year students at New College of Florida.

Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 700 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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