There’s a storm headed this way, and while it doesn’t look like Isaias is going to give us much trouble (other than lots of rain and a spelling challenge), this weekend certainly looks to be a good one to remain inside. Here are some options for your homebound entertainment
8/1-15: Tampa Digital Fringe Festival. Three years ago, the Tampa International Fringe Festival made its debut, bringing performers from all over the world and Tampa Bay to Ybor City. Because of COVID, this year’s edition has gone from stage to screen. From Aug. 1-15, you can watch a wild array of solo story-telling, spoken-word horror, action comedy and burlesque in an online fantasy version of Ybor — “wandering around venue to venue to watch a variety of high-quality recorded shows entirely for free,” says festival producer Trish Parry, “and when a patron walks by their favorite restaurant or shop they will be offered to be taken to their web portal if they want to order Ybor food for delivery or do some kitschy shopping. Acts for the Digital Festival include locals Scott Swenson, Hoof Arted, Smutty Nerd Burlesque, ThinkTankYA, and Josh Goff, and shows from away include veteran fringe performers Jon Bennett, Dandy Darkly, Les Kurkendaal, and more (including some surprises)!” This week’s edition of Creative Loafing has an in-depth survey of the fest. Go to tampafringe.org or the festival’s Facebook page for info on logging in and scheduled events, starting with a free beer bash on Saturday night.
7/30: The America We Need: Making Better Jobs. Know that Sunday supplement staple “What They Earn” about people’s annual income, from gazillionaires to dog groomers? Here’s a chance to chat (or complain) about your own payday in a 3-part, 45-minute online event sponsored by the New York Times. The fun starts with a discussion between former Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich and the head of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, continues with stars of Hamilton and Little Fires Everywhere performing a poem written by taxi drivers, nannies and others from the Worker Writers School at PEN America, and concludes with Times readers sharing how much they make and whether they think their pay is fair. Free. 5-5:45 p.m., Thurs. July 30. R.S.V.P. here.
7/30: New Shorts at American Stage. I spoke too soon. I reported previously that last weekend’s New Shorts at American Stage was the last of the series. Hallelujah, I was wrong, because these Zoomed performances of scripts by playwrights from around the country have been consistently enjoyable. So do catch this installment, which does conclude the series: a double bill of Hear Me Roar by Jennifer Blackmer (three generations of women look at their take on feminism) and Real American Dinner Party by Jen Silverman (a couple hosts friends in their new apartment and soon everyone is blinded in a game of one-upping). Live performance Thurs. July 30 at 8 p.m.; viewable for a limited time after that on the American Stage YouTube channel. Alex Harris emcees, mixing a cocktail and leading a theater trivia contest. Pay what you can..
7/30: Beauty & the ’Burg Live: Pinellas County Arts Education. Tampa Bay is rich in learning opportunities for young performing artists, including the Pinellas County Center for the Arts (PCCA) at Gibbs H.S. in St. Pete, the Patel Conservatory at the Straz, ACT St Pete (Arts Conservatory for Teens) and the St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory. Beauty & the ’Burg’s Cindy Stovall welcomes two leaders in arts education to her online variety show — Brian Melton of the Ballet Conservatory and Alex Harris of ACT — as well as performances by students. Thurs. July 30, 7 p.m. via the Creative Pinellas Facebook Live feed.
8/1: Jacob’s Pillow Virtual Dog Dance. Thanks to Creative Pinellas for this recommendation: “Back by popular demand, Jacob’s Pillow Virtual Dog Dance for beloved canines and their dance-loving companions happens on August 1 (Saturday) at 11:30 a.m. and is hosted by Jacob’s Pillow and led by Elizabeth Johnson Levine, Associate Artistic Director of Dance Exchange, and DZ Maciel. Meet them online with your dance-loving pup and be guided through a series of simple and fun movements that highlight the beauty of our pets and the unique relationship we share with our dogs. Free. No experience required for humans or dogs.”
Chill out with Next Generation Ballet’s Nutcracker. Beat the heat (and the rain) by watching a video of the “Snow Scene” from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker performed by the stars-in-the-making of the Patel Conservatory’s Next Generation Ballet. Who doesn’t need a little Christmas in July?
The Zest Podcast: How to Photograph Food Like a Pro. The latest episode from WUSF’s tasty podcast, The Zest, features a St. Pete power couple — USF’s Janet Keeler, former food and travel editor for the Times, and her husband, Scott Keeler, veteran Times photographer — discussing how to make your food pics look better with tips like using a white napkin as a reflector. Listen anytime here.
Virtual filmfests. Tampa Theatre is continuing to stream a stellar lineup of new arthouse films, including Good Trouble, the 2020 documentary about the late Congressman John Lewis. Find the full lineup at tampatheatre.org. And through July 31 the Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival is showing “Pioneers of Queer Cinema,” including the 1933 musical romance Victor and Victoria which inspired the Blake Edwards/Julie Andrews romcom in 1982. Got to tiglff.com for more info.
Emmy Catch-Up. Now that the nominations are out, it’s time to hunker down and watch Watchmen and give a Schitt about Schitt’s Creek, both of which scored big in the noms department. It’s not clear whether the Sept. 20 awards show will be live or virtual, but with your homework done you’ll enjoy it even more. And if you’re wondering why some shows didn’t get squat, it may be a matter of timing: I’m a fan of the very LA noir-ish Perry Mason remake on HBO, but it didn’t debut till after the nominations cutoff on June 1, so no go. And speaking of noir…
Tampa Bay Noir. This would be the perfect weekend to dive into Colette Bancroft’s new anthology of stories about “the shady stuff people get up to in the sunshine.” The Times book editor is joined by three of the anthology’s contributing authors — Gale Massey, Lisa Unger and Sterling Watson — for a virtual panel discussion on Tues. Aug. 4 on Tombolo Books’ Facebook page, so all the more reason to pick up a copy at Tombolo and start reading now.