‘Last Rung’ Premieres at Ringling College
The Stephen King Dollar Baby Film ‘The Last Rung’ enjoyed an exclusive premiere at the Larry Thompson Education Center on Ringling’s campus. The audience–limited to cast, crew, and their families–enjoyed the film and Q&A.
The film is the culmination of nearly three years of work, beginning with applying for the Dollar Baby program. King offers rights to a selection of short stories for just $1 to fledgling filmmakers through an application process. Rights were granted on Nov. 13, 2019.
Then film source material, “The Last Rung on the Ladder,” is part of King’s “Nightshift” collection of short stories. The team first had to adapt the narrative story into a screenplay. What followed were months of preparation–and pandemic planning as well–prior to beginning production, which began in March 2021. After shooting all the scenes, student editors worked to piece clips together into a story. Finally, the team refined the video. The result? A spectacular film headed for the festival circuit. Hence, the limited premiere: in order to qualify for film festivals, a film cannot be so widely seen that it’s old news.
Congratulations to all the hands and minds who’ve contributed to this great VPA success. The undertaking of a project with this size and scope is enormous. Of course, the pandemic only complicated matters, with production halted until director Styles Summerlin proposed a COVID bubble plan. This was a work of determination and problem solving beyond the typical film production.
VPA Choir Participates in ‘Tomorrow’s Voices Today’
Each year, Key Chorale professional choir presents “Tomorrow’s Voices Today,” an intergenerational concert of choral works. Halted by Covid in the past two years, the concert is back, and Booker VPA choirs participated. The concert, on May 9, featured the Key Chorale choir along with students from Booker, Riverview, and Sarasota High Schools.
The choirs sang three pieces, and you can find those performances at the links below.
- In Remembrance by Jeffrey Ames
- Soon We Will be Done by Kyle Penderson
- O What a Beautiful City by Shawn Kirchner
The event is a wonderful way to unite voices and lift spirits.
Senior Showcases Demonstrate Varied Skills
This week marked the beginning of the VPA Senior Showcases, which are like capstone projects for our grads-to-be. The showcases are an accumulation of skills students learn throughout their tenure in VPA. Accordingly, they take on full production roles, from developing content to marketing to hammering out production logistics.
This week’s showcases began with Theatre’s “TBA,” a performance using text chats as a story structure and heavy on the concept of their own lives being in-progress. With exceptional group performances–Sondheim’s “Putting it Together” and “Cell Block Tango,” which riffed on (VPA Theatre teacher) Smith Jail. At turns hilarious and touching, the showcase exemplified all they have learned. Thanks to our partners at SCF’s Neel Performing Art Center for hosting us with grace and generosity.
Then came the Music senior showcase on Friday night at the First Presbyterian Church. Following an hourlong awards ceremony where students received such accolades as “Most Improved Musician” and “Director’s Awards,” the recital featured solo and chamber performances of the students’ choosing.
Finally (for this week), Saturday night was the Dance senior showcase, featuring all-student created choreographies that illustrated their dazzling skills and imaginations.
Next up, we’ll finish the year with the Film & Animation senior showcase, a double feature with the department’s annual showcase, “Reel Life,” at Burns Court Cinema on May 17. After, Art will exhibit their senior works at the Ringling College of Art and Design on May 20.
Sam Mossler Memorial Scholarship Winner Announced
Darwin Rojas was named the second annual Sam Mossler Memorial Scholarship winner at the Theatre senior showcase on May 12. As a recipient, he was given a Dr. Who journal signed by the scholarship committee and will receive a $5,000 check. Rojas will major in Acting at Lynn University.
The Sam Mossler Memorial Scholarship was created by Mossler’s friends and family upon the VPA Theatre alum’s sudden, tragic death in October 2020. In addition to graduating from Booker VPA, Mossler went on to earn an MFA in Acting from Florida State University and spent his life as a working artist in theatre performance and writing.
A compassionate and generous soul whose motto was “Keep evolving, please,” Mossler inspired those around him to be their most genuine and creative selves. Known as much for being a font of kindness as creativity, Mossler developed lifelong friendships with a range of people. His death shook the large community that adored him.
The scholarship is open to graduating seniors in VPA Theatre going into the arts, and candidates responded to writing prompts and held interviews with the committee. The committee seeks a combination of talent and Sam-like character traits: kindness, a sense of humor, an appreciation for life.
The inaugural Sam Mossler Memorial Scholarship winner was Kaity Cairo, who now studies theatre at the University of California, Los Angeles.
All-VPA Art Show is a Hit
The Art Department hosted an art show on May 13 in the studios on campus. Art in every conceivable medium was on display. The senior show will open on Friday, May 20.