Juneteenth. There’s a movement afoot to declare Juneteenth a national holiday, and why not? A commemoration of the date — June 19, 1865 — when news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Texas, thus freeing the slaves in the most remote of the slave states, it’s a reminder of a crucial turning point in American history, one which should be celebrated not just by African-Americans but by every citizen who values freedom and justice. Given the current protests demanding both, Juneteenth has more resonance than ever. Unfortunately, some live events have been cancelled due to the pandemic, including the celebration at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum that had been scheduled for June 19 at 9:30 a.m. (There will be a press conference at that time instead, the centerpiece of which will be the new Black Lives Matter mural that’s been painted on the street in front of the museum.) Virtual Juneteenth celebrations abound, including these:
Juneteenth Music Festival. Billed as the world’s first virtual global freedom festival, it’s live today (Thurs. June 18, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.) at juneteenthmusicfestival.com, and features music headlined by DJ Jazzy Jeff, podcasts, a dance competition, comedy and lots more, plus presentation of the #DreamBig Awards to a range of high achievers.
Miss Tampa Bay Juneteenth Coalition Pageant. A live pageant beginning 6 p.m. on Friday featuring middle and high school contestants competing in talent, community achievement and evening wear. The hopeful theme is “20/20: Our Future is Clear. Find it on the Tampa Bay Juneteenth Coalition Facebook page. 813-270-5687.
Juneteenth Justice Theatre Project. Two local theater companies, Jobsite and Stageworks, have teamed up with Rory Lawrence Productions in a national project in which theaters across the country are streaming staged readings on June 19 of Polar Bears, Black Boys, & Prairie Fringed Orchids, a play by Vincent Terrell Durham. A finalist for the 2019 National New Play Network’s National Showcase of New Plays, the play finds a liberal white couple hosting a cocktail party for a Black Lives Matter activist, his gay white lover, and the mother of a slain 12-year-old black boy. The six-person cast (Emily Belvo, Johnny Garde, Patrick A. Jackson, Nancy Mizzell, Andresia Moseley, Derrick Phillips) will appear via video, socially-distanced on the Stageworks stage, under the direction of David M. Jenkins. The stream will be available all day through participating companies’ websites and social media platforms, and although it’s free, viewers will be encouraged to donate to select charities such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, and a new national fund for Black American theater.
Father’s Day. Treat him right without even having to treat him! Dads get free or discounted admission to all kinds of attractions on Father’s Day — Sunday, June 21. Look for Dad deals at the Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum, and lots of local bars and restaurants, too.
Don’t Ask. Do Tell. at MIZE Gallery. Chad Mize, gallerist extraordinaire, continues his tradition of celebrating Pride month each June with an exhibition of works by LGBTQ artists. This year’s show was co-curated by Kurt Piazza and features artists Saumitra Chandratreya, Christian Cortes, Perry deVick, Santiago Echeverry, Cole Foust, Jay Hoff, Chad Jacobs, Lucky LeRoy, Diran Lyons, Cake Marques, Michael McGrath, Spencer Meyers, Chad Mize, Juliane Montoya, Andrea Pawlisz, Kurt Piazza, Gabriel Ramos, Matthew Schlagbaum, Justin Sears, Dylan Todd, and Angela Warren. Virtual opening reception tomorrow, June 19, from 6-10 p.m.
TIGLFF: Give or Take. The Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival has been hitting it out of the park lately with its online content, such as last week’s premiere of Shirley with Elisabeth Moss, one of the most talked-about movies of the spring. Now they’re sending us a Pride/Father’s Day double whammy with Give or Take, starring Tony-winning actor Norbert Leo Butz in a comedic drama about a man who returns to his childhood home on Cape Cod after his father dies and gets to know his father’s late-in-life live-in boyfriend. View it this weekend only (June 18-21) at TIGLFF Online.
Dance in the Time of Coronavirus — outside the Trop! Last Saturday morning, if you happened to be traveling down 1st Ave. S. in St. Pete, you came across something wonderfully incongruous: block after block of white-clad, socially-distanced dancers gracefully moving, swooping and twirling on the sidewalk. That was the first installment of Dance in the Time of Coronavirus, a series of outdoor dances envisioned by Andee Scott and Amanda Sieradzki “for a moving audience of cars, wheels, bicycles, and pedestrians.” The second installment, “Reverberation #2: Nightlight” on Sat. June 20, moves to 1st Ave. S. between 16th St. S. and 13th St. S., and as the name suggests it’s taking place at night, running continuously from 8:30-9:30 p.m. Dancers will be lined up along the sidewalk 20 feet apart, and the audience will “enter” the piece on 1st. Ave S at 16th Street S, watching from bicycles in the bike lane, from the sidewalk across the street or from cars driving by.
Abercrombie Park. As a recent transplant from downtown to West St. Pete, I’ve been discovering a plethora of parks and greenspaces I’d never visited before. One of my favorite discoveries has been beautiful Abercrombie Park, a shady waterfront oasis off of busy Park Boulevard in Jungle Terrace that is also home to an an archaeological site, a Native American “midden.” Now Abercrombie is getting even better, and bigger. Thanks to a landowner who was selling property adjacent to the park and preferred to see it preserved rather than overrun by McMansions, the city was able to purchase the land and expand the park by 2.1 acres. A ribbon-cutting for the expansion is scheduled for Sat. June 20.
The Top 35 Tony Performances of All Time. With the 2020 Tony Awards delayed for who knows how long (if the awards show ever happens at all), theater geeks took nostalgic comfort from the New York Times‘s recent roundup of great Tony performances from the past, complete with links. Better still is Time Out New York‘s collection; the video clips are easier to access and there are some gems (like Dorothy Loudon’s blowsy Miss Hannigan from Annie) that the Times overlooked. (Thanks to the Straz for alerting me to this list.)