Women take over area stages in January

Ami Sallee, Katrina Stevenson and Jo Averill-Snell direct plays in a rare Tampa-femme shut-out.



THE DIRECTORS: From left, Ami Sallee, Katrina Stevenson and Jo Averill-Snell.
  • THE DIRECTORS: From left, Ami Sallee, Katrina Stevenson and Jo Averill-Snell.
Simone de Beauvoir would approve: Women directors are taking over Bay area stages this month, with Katrina Stevenson heading Jobsite’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, Jo Averill-Snell helming Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Heroes, and Ami Sallee calling the shots at the newly reborn Gorilla Theatre’s An Iliad. Add the recent news of Karla Hartley’s assumption of power at Stageworks, and the conclusion is inescapable: in local theater, at least, femmes rule and men, lowly men, have become the Second Sex.

Consider Stevenson, known mostly for her longtime affiliation with Jobsite, for whom she’s been director, actor, and award-winning costume designer. Her Hound is as much about live theater as it is about Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and the mysterious canine who haunts the Baskerville clan. Using only three actors — Giles Davies, Shawn Paonessa, and David Jenkins — to play more than a dozen roles, Stevenson’s Hound is a comic romp in which the performers’ ingenuity and the spectators’ imaginations meet at Holmes’ quarters on Baker Street and on the murderous, misty moors. If you liked The 39 Steps when Jobsite offered it a few seasons ago, this tour de force promises some of the same thrills and pratfalls. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 2 at The Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa; tickets $28. jobsitetheater.org.

Then there’s Averill-Snell, who as artistic director of Improbable Athenaeum brings us little-known texts in script-in-hand readings, and whose other theaters over the years have specialized in surrealism and alternative spaces. Now she’s directing Gérald Sibleyras’ comedy, translated and adapted by Tom Stoppard, about three World War I vets and their plan to escape from the rest home wherein they’ve been confined. Like Stevenson, Averill-Snell is working with three male performers: Steve Mountan, Jim Wicker, and C. David Frankel (TRT’s a.d.). Unlike Hound, Heroes employs a gentle realism as it presents its effectively helpless protagonists and their quixotic quest. They’ve got 85 minutes to succeed — or else. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays thru Feb. 2 at the HCC Performing Arts Building, Tampa; tickets $20. Go to tamparep.org.

And finally there’s Sallee, who for years has been a key actor in Jobsite productions, and who has been managing director of that theater and, more recently, theatre department chair for the Patel Conservatory, where she now teaches. Sallee’s An Iliad was written by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, and was adapted from Homer’s original as translated by Robert Fagles. It features actor Brendan Ragan as The Poet, who not only tells the epic story of the Trojan War, but adds reminders of how that terrible conflict is still relevant to our own time. Expect a monologue as stirring and turbulent as the tale it recounts — and welcome the ever-reviving Gorilla Theatre back to life. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, Jan. 17-19 at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin, Jan. 23-Feb. 2 at the Springs Theatre, Tampa. Tickets $25. Call 813-879-2914. www.gorillatheatre.com.

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