All posts by Cathi Carr

Theater Professor Scott Cooper earns Florida Theater Conference Achievement Award

SPC Theater professor Scott Cooper directs actors in Antigone

Congratulations to St. Petersburg College’s Associate Theater Professor Scott Cooper for earning the 2017 Florida Theater Conference Achievement Award for College/University Theater. This award honors his contributions to the cultural fabric of the arts in the college and university community.

On Thursday, Nov. 11, Cooper will attend the Florida Theatre Conference at the Fine Arts Hall at Santa Fe College in Gainesville to receive the award.

“I am very grateful that people in the state are seeing what a dynamic theater program we have developed over the past seven years at SPC,” said Cooper.

set design
Cooper’s set design for SPC’s production of “Antigone”.

Since 1986, the Florida Theatre Conference began recognizing individuals in the state of Florida that had made a contributing effort in the area of
• Community Theatre
• Professional Theatre
• University/College Theatre
• Theatre for Youth
• High School Theatre

Cooper has led SPC’s theater program since its resurgence in 2011. Though the college began offering theater classes in the 1960s, it became a victim of budget cuts in 2002 and was halted. The program’s long anticipated return was heralded locally and now hosts at least two productions a year.

An award-winning set designer, Cooper started off as an actor in musical theater, but tired of that endeavor.

“I was in the theater a lot, and I loved helping work on and paint scenery and then decided that maybe I could try my hand at that,” he said. ” Lo and behold, I was good at it and then I went to school to study it.”

Cooper, who has a BA and an MFA in Scenic Design, has designed scenery for many shows in the Tampa Bay area, in theaters such as American Stage, Jobsite, Gorilla, the Jaeb Theater at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Stageworks and FreeFall theaters. His work has also been seen at the Goodman and Steppenwolf Theaters in Chicago. He says he’s most proud of his work on the set for “August: Osage County”, for which he received a Norton Award for best set design.

theater set design
Cooper’s set design for “August: Osage County”

“The set is a three-story house with multiple rooms showing all at the same time,” he said. “I initially didn’t want to do it but the director talked me into it and I ended up loving the design a lot.  It was quite impressive and it really worked with the play’s requirements.”

In addition to the Norton Award for “August: Osage County”, Cooper has been nominated twice for the Jefferson Award in Scenic Design in Chicago for his designs of “Bus Stop” and “American Buffalo”, both at American Theater Company. He has received Creative Loafing’s Best of the Bay outstanding Scenic Designer in the Tampa Bay area for four consecutive years, and won another Norton Award for best set design for “‘Night Mother” at Stageworks Theater.

In spite of his many accolades, Cooper said the Achievement Award took him by surprise.

“I had no idea I had been nominated,” he said. “I am a one-person department, and I usually think that no one really notices what I do, but I guess that isn’t the case. My entire career has been about getting students to enjoy and be good at theater—and to understand it’s importance. It is nice to think that I am known for that type of thought and that I have done well.”

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About SPC’s Theater Program

SPC offers classes in acting, directing, stagecraft, costume construction, script analysis, stage management as well as internships and work experiences.

Students are encouraged to audition for each theater production and work on backstage crews to further their understanding of how productions work and to build their resume before either transferring to other colleges or working professionally. Students can also intern at professional theaters such as American Stage and freeFall Theater to gain even more experience.

Theater department presents world premiere of Aimee and the XYMOX

The cast and crew of AIMEE
The cast and crew of AIMEE

On Thursday, Oct. 30, the SPC Theater department will open the world premiere of Aimee and the XYMOX by Ann Morrison and directed by Scott Cooper. This production includes 4 student actors, 5 student technicians, 3 puppets and a great story of hope and healing. The play is the story of a little girl, who has leukemia, who goes on a magical journey to Faerie to carry out her journey to find the Xymox.

Ann Morrison is a Broadway actress and playwright said she “has wanted to collaborate with St. Petersburg College Theater Department for a few years now. As an educator herself, she thoroughly enjoys working with future theater artists and inspiring their creativity to emerge.”

She has lead 2 workshops at SPC—one working on the script for this play and the other about acting techniques.

The show is free for students, faculty and staff, and there is a $10 suggested donation for general admission. All proceeds from this production will be donated to the Children’s Leukemia Research Association, Inc.

Check out our Facebook galleries from dress rehearsals to get a glimpse of SPC students in action.

Performances are:
Thursday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 1 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
at the Arts Auditorium on the Clearwater Campus.

Inaugural Arts & Entertainment speed networking event a success

Students, staff and industry professionals in the field of art and entertainment discuss the industry, their goals and ongoing projects during the Arts & Entertainment Speed Networking Event on Thursday, Oct. 9 at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus.

More than 70 students had a date with their future during the St. Petersburg College Arts & Entertainment speed networking event at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus on Thursday, Oct. 9.

Students got to strengthen their career networks with representatives from WMNF, Gasparilla Music Festival, the Mahaffey Theater, the Palladium, local music schools, and SPC’s fine arts faculty.

“The Speed Networking event was a great idea not only did we get to connect with a very diverse group of students, we were able to talk about how their interests align with opportunities at WMNF,” said JoEllen Schilke, volunteer coordinator and radio personality at WMNF. “I also loved how many students were helping each other with their dream projects. I’d be excited to work with each and every one of them.”

Debbie Carson, marketing manager at the Palladium Theater, said the event gave students a fun way to learn about the MIRA program while allowing the theater to discover new partnering opportunities with the academic program.

“Being able to interact personally with the students, faculty and program partners one-on-one in a fast paced, intimate setting was outstanding,” Carson said.

The event was based on the idea of a speed dating meet-up: students would sit together with their peers and industry professionals at a table for a set amount of time to talk and mingle before moving to another table to meet a new group of people.

The rotations were quick and engaging as students and professionals alike explored questions about their greatest accomplishments, inspirations, career goals and what advice they might give to someone entering their field or program.

The event culminated with an announcement by Ty Rodriguez, executive director of the Gasparilla Music Festival. Rodriguez announced SPC student Savannah Crowther as the winner of the 2014 Music Empowers Challenge $500 award.