April 1, 2021

Summer Dawn Wallace, Co-Founder of Urbanite Theatre, Joins the Club

Summer Dawn Wallace, Co-Founder of Urbanite Theatre, Joins the Club

From Crossville, Tennessee to Sarasota, Florida, how did Urbanite Theatre's co-founder and artistic director Summer Dawn Wallace land on the Suncoast to bring us cutting edge, ground breaking theatre? And who are the amazing women playwrights that will be featured on this year's Modern Works Festival from April 14 to 18? Take a listen to this week's episode of the Suncoast Culture Club podcast and find out.
Come along and join the club!

• Urbanite Theatre Website & Facebook & Instagram & YouTube

• Asolo Repertory Theatre Website & Facebook Page & Instagram & YouTube

• Lida Key Beach Website

• Lila Restaurant Website & Facebook & Instagram

• Baker and Wife Restaurant Website & Facebook & Instagram

• Bikram Yoga Sarasota Website & Facebook & Instagram

• SCF Theatre Program Website & Facebook Page & Instagram

• SCF Website and Facebook & Instagram & YouTube

SCF Music Program Website & Facebook & Instagram

• SCF Foundation Website & Facebook & Instagram & LinkedIn

Support the show (https://scf-foundation.org/suncoastcultureclub/)

Transcript

Amanda Schlachter:  I am thrilled to welcome  Summer Dawn Wallace, Co-Artistic Director of Urbanite Theater in beautiful downtown Sarasota. Summer is an accomplished actor, director, producer and teaching artist. She's worked with such companies as Asolo Rep, Madcow Theater, Playwright Center, and many, many more. She's also taught with FSU Asolo, Conservatory, New College Riverview High School, Manatee School for the Arts, and held master classes across the United States. She's currently producing the Modern Works Festival, a celebration of  female voices and playwrights. And those are just a few of her very impressive resume. But what I want to do is ask questions. So we'll learn more about you. So welcome Summer.

Summer Dawn Wallace: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

Amanda Schlachter: We're thrilled that you're here and I have to say Urbanite, one of my favorite theaters in the area, and we always love to see your work. always say to Tom, when we leave that I always have to process the work and it really makes you think and really makes you question and grow. And so I think that it's such a profound, role you play in our community here.

Summer Dawn Wallace:  I feel like if I'm not making you think, then I haven't done my job.

Amanda Schlachter:  And you guys are just such a unique part of the Suncoast in terms of what you've brought and the honesty of the work as well.  But I want to start with you first and then we'll dive into Urbanite a little bit later. So I feel like we have so many artistic people in this area, but we never know where they've come from. So I'd love if you could talk a little bit about your background, how you got into acting and your evolution as an artist up until the time you founded Urbanite.

Summer Dawn Wallace:  So I am originally from , a very small town in Tennessee called Crossville, , which is between Knoxville and Nashville. Hence. Crossville. was born out West, but we finally made it to Tennessee when I was like in the second grade. So  most of my time was spent in  Appalachia Dolly Parton country.  In my hometown, there is a professional regional rep theater company. It's the largest theater in Tennessee and it was founded by two actors, I'd done Broadway stuff film stuff. And it was a couple, the Crabtrees and  they wanted to start a family and  visiting Tennessee and they have like 10 kids So Paul Crabtree, it's Paul and Mary had been working on this play Perils of Pinocchio. And  he thought, well, maybe I can do it with some of the locals   workshop this play.  So they did it at the local high school and  it's a rural community.  The community had not really been exposed to theater, so they fell in love instantly. And they were like, how do we do this more often? And the Crabtrees were like, well,  we need to build a theater. So the community rallied together and did it was pretty amazing. And  then it evolved into like a larger company and both the son and the daughter of Paul and Mary were  the ads for a very long time. And now it has different leadership. And so that was kind of my stomping grounds.   They would use  ensemble members from the community and they had a dance program, which is very smart. And their dancers because of the training,  it was like Broadway quality. So I auditioned for Peter Pan and   Stupid Cupid and the rest was history. 

Amanda Schlachter:  Did you know how to sing already?  

Summer Dawn Wallace: No, no. I guess that's not true.  When we lived out West, I was part of this group called the Sunshine Kids. And we wore like little cowboy hats and did  numbers. And it wasn't like formal training. You know, we were just like little kids doing stuff, but I do remember that I was assigned to duet, Rockin Robin, and my scene partner  forgot her words and I  pushed her out of the way and like took over. But not  I was a little one of those kids that was very, very shy. I never talked  and so there was something about   getting to do that in the play world that just  brought it out of me. And so I got cast in Peter Pan and then the rest was   history.  I was like, you know, that kid that was kind of in all the shows. And then I was an intern the theater,  my first job I think, was in the costume shop and I don't iron to this day because of it   doing all of that laundry. And so  you really had to do everything and, I would sit in the artistic director's office and  take notes sometimes. So  I learned  how to do a little bit of everything. And then around when I was 14, It's really, it's kind of shaped my life, but I've never done this play. I never would have been a professional actor. But they do the show called Smoke on the Mountain. That was very popular for them. And one of the actresses in the show very unexpectedly, he said, I've got another gig I'm out of here. And so they were like, what do we do? Cue timing is everything I happened to be. Plunking across the stage to sweep it, to set up for a play. And the next thing I know, they were like, how do you want to be in the show? And I was like, what? Already set up for this play. I don't understand. And they were like, no, no, no. How would you feel about being in it? And this was a bluegrass gospel show where you had to sing and play instruments. And I had never played an instrument  I had never sang a solo before.  But when I didn't know what the time is, I was that character, there was no acting involved. It was just, I was playing myself. And so I sat in the lobby with the musical director for five days and got shoved out on stage. And that playing kind of changed my life. So I never really went to high school after that. I did, but I would do like hybrid cause I was always doing the shows took it out on the road. So I got to tour with it. Went and did it in Nashville and  then it got time to go to college and I was like, okay, well I guess I'll do this. And that show became a part of my life for literally 25 years. I got my first professional gig in college because of it. I'd went to an SETC. You have to have a number and do all this stuff to audition and. I was just going to get the experience and I didn't get a number, cause I didn't do the college screening because I was doing the play. And so I saw that it's very weird that you auditioned to people's hotel rooms. Like it's very strange. I don't, that's going to change now. What's happening in the world, but being young and dumb and clueless, no clue about professionalism. I saw that there was a theater doing Smoke on the Mountain and that was like, Oh, I know that play. So,  , a fearless little 19 year old and knocked on their door and said, Hey, I've been doing the show for five years. Can I audition for you? And they were like, Sure. And so I auditioned and then they hired me for that summer. And then I did Summer Stock with them for three years. And then the director there worked for a theater in South Florida. And so he offered me a year contract to come to Florida. And so I was an undergrad. I went to Western Kentucky, but I wasn't really learning anything. And so I thought, okay, so I finished up college through the mail and left school and just started working. So I went down to South Florida,  did that contract that turned into like two years of work.   And then moved to New York and then the artists have full began.   If I had never done Smoke on the Mountain, I would never have been an actor. 

Amanda Schlachter:  It's so interesting because you were really raised with this family, but then you were also raised as a professional actor by the time you were in high school. And it's interesting because that idea of training, which I think we all believe in training or in education. And yet at the same time,  you had already. Been doing so much work,  finding those people that could challenge you as well, which you then went back to school here at Asolo. Right?

Summer Dawn Wallace: Yeah. So that any first kind of discovered Sarasota. So I had been technically I didn't graduate until 2003, cause it took me a long time to finish it up by the mail. Before I wasn't doing shows. 

Amanda Schlachter: Does that mean by the mail? I'm so curious, 

Summer Dawn Wallace: so  we had the internet, but no one really had personal computers. So I would have to do my assignments, mail them in, get graded and they would mail them back. And then to  take the final test, I would have to go to an approved testing center to take like random tests. And  when you're working. You're always somewhere random. So I'm like, well, great. I'm doing a Christmas show in West Virginia. Is there a testing center here? So and I think he took an anthropology class, a health class, some kind of biology, something it's always weird to be like singing and dancing and then being like, Oh, I gotta go do biology. I don't necessarily recommend doing it that way, but it,  works. for moi. And so I got to a place  kind of where I was in my career.  I had felt, I never really had had formal training. My training was always just working and,  I'd been a paid professional since I was 14. . And always kind of learning  how I go and taking voice lessons and taking dance and obviously learning in the rehearsal room.  I learned how to do comedy from one actor this really an actor, Jason Ross, and just figuring out what he did and watch him for hours to figure out his timing. But I'd never had formal, formal acting training and. Taking classes in New York. But when you're in the city, you're auditioning, you've got your survival job. You've got class on Monday, but by the time you even think about what you're working on in class, you don't have time. So I was like really interested in maybe going back to school to have no distractions. And really to kind of change the scope of my career. If there was somebody who was dumb, funny, had a weird speaking voice The bimbo Canon, so to speak or you know, standing there playing a musical instrument that was kind of my jam and also at a place where I was like, if I have to do that one more time, I don't want to do this anymore.  And I'd also had always wanted to run my own company and I knew to do that. I had to get taken seriously. So it was like, I think having an MFA that will give me more street cred.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.  And because that leads me to my next question about when you founded Urbanite. So it's interesting to me that you knew for a long time, you wanted to found your own company. So in the fall we had had Brendan on and he talked a little bit about it from his perspective, but it really seems like you guys met back up and then  there was already a ball in motion for the theater. So could you tell us a little bit about  how. You came up with it. And then about specifically the concept, the kind of work you all put out and the standards you expect 

Summer Dawn Wallace: So  post graduate school, it went back to New York and  it was going back to that, hustle and pounding the pavement. There was a brief period where I took a very crazy job on a cruise ship, so I could pay off my student loans and was back in New York and without an EPA, which is kind of like a general.  Equity audition and you know, you sign up in the morning, you try to get an appointment. And my appointment I got in there at the very end of the day. And,  as I was auditioning, I felt really sorry for the casting director on the other side of the table, he had seen like 300 people  and  as I'm  auditioning, I was like,  I could do a Cartwheel right now. And I don't know if he noticed,  he's crunchy, he's burnt, like he is closed for the day. And then I'd had one more audition that week that was kind of similar. And I was just like, there's got to be a better way. And then prior to this,  my hubby boyfriend at the time we'd been on vacation in Sarasota and he unexpectedly got a job offer there. Not in the plan,  but what do you do? So he was subleasing in Sarasota. I was subleasing in New York, kind of going back and forth  and trying to book as much work in Florida as possible which was kind of starting to happen. And then I thought, you know, I think now's the time if I don't do it now. I'm never going to do it. So  I got off the train stop and Astoria at two stops early and was just walking home and  called Gram my boyfriend at the time. And I said, okay,  I'm coming back. And he was like, are you sure? Yeah, I'm going to start a theater company or somehow make this work. Because I don't want us to be a part, and this is dumb. I'm going to have to go to 500 of these things.  While having an MFA is very important, the rest of the world doesn't care. So been through this life changing thing and everybody's like, okay,  So, yeah, that was it. So I came back to Sarasota and. Was trying to book work as much as I could  in the Florida region and driving around, looking at possible places in Sarasota. That could be like a pop-up something.  And then  around that time is when I connected with Harry Lipstein. And  we were talking and,  he was very interested in kind of doing something in Newpaltz. And I was like, that's amazing, but the Sarasota community that theater is close. That's there. You could go to New York and see that type of work and Sarasota, there's not a company that's kind of focused on new work. , or a black box,  I think there's a niche here that we could do.  You know, I only have so many skills and then Brendan was also circling  around Sarasota because  at the time he was dating somebody that was here.  I had talked to a few other people, people, and they were like, you're nuts, no, come to Sarasota and start a theater company. And so me and Brendan had coffee and I was like, okay, so this is kind of happening. And  what do you think? And he was, just as kind of crazy as I was to say, yes, let's do it. so from there he was back in New York.  We were talking every day, like making plans writing mission statements. So that kind of started. And then eventually we got him here kind of full time. Which is like crazy. I'm like taking pictures up to the apartment. What do you think of this one?  When I look back on it, it was such an interesting time.  

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.

Summer Dawn Wallace: it was really important for us to start a company that focused on , I hate the word edgy, but work that just really makes you think and feel.  And voices that are new, or maybe they're not new, but   Sarasota hasn't experienced them yet. And then really making sure from the beginning that we were providing equal opportunities for both women and men in terms of playwrights, that we were presenting all the quorums acting opportunities  as a performer yourself, you know that sometimes when you see notices go out and you look at what the available, there's like two roles for women. And so that was super important that there were some equality within the beginning of that. And then,  we put our first season together having no idea it was actually going to work Our philosophy was,   you only get one chance. So go big or go home. And  we're so thankful to Harry that he built,  the theater space. And so , we had . The privilege and luxury of having a theater to be able to do this within, Harry built the shell and , Urbanite had to fundraise for seats for chairs, for lights for this. And I'm so thankful to the Sarasota community and,  our donors early on and the theater practitioners that gave us advice and worked with us  I had a rollout piece of paper of like, this is what it's going to look like. I promise we're going to do a play you know, they believed in it too. You know, a technical director coming to look at our air conditioning before it was being put in to say, don't put it there, put it on that side. Now we bought our first lights from Bob Turoff from the Golden Apple, it was really amazing. How many artists in the Sarasota community really  were helping us behind the scenes to  get the doors open and we were painting the theater until I think we opened the doors. 

Amanda Schlachter: Till the last minute. Yeah. I love that you have the Golden Apple as a part of your theater, because it's such an integral part of this community. And so it still is with us what a sweet story. Yeah.   So then you opened the company and now. I know you play like so many roles and you play them often all at the same time.  You direct, you produce, you teach you perform. I know you're recently a yoga instructor to add to the list. Right. I think that's awesome.  I think that's so cool. But  how, do you manage and balance all that? And are there differences in terms of how you have to think about it or go about those roles?

Summer Dawn Wallace: Yeah, so I do wear many, many hats.  I don't perform as much as I would like, because there's just no time to and if I'm getting to act at Urbanite, it is a period that is just such a luxury. Because for  three weeks, I  almost get to step into actor shoes where the one little hat that I get to wear, not like totally because there's so many things that I do that no one else can do and I have to do them. So we try to balance that out for each other, if either of us performing that we take some stuff off each other's plates so that We can kind of put those acting shoes on. But we don't perform that much. It's a theater because not completely possible to just play out there as much as I would love to. And then directing, at Urbanite, I get to direct  once within the season and then modern works is  its own baby And then most of the time  even if I'm acting in the show, I still have a producer hat on and  I'm doing all the contracting, payroll, accounting   all of that. So it is a lot of hats, but know.  

Amanda Schlachter: Sure.  Yeah. Is there something that's like the most challenging for you  about running a company in general? 

Summer Dawn Wallace: You don't know what you don't know. And so I think the hardest thing is that I'm always working slightly out of my comfort zone. Which is also exciting but I'm always every day or at least every week running up against something that is like, Oh gosh, I don't know how to do that. And so I have to figure out how to do that. And that can get really, really challenging. I also feel the pressure is I want to make sure I'm taking care of everybody. And so I feel that pressure a lot, making sure that  I'm meeting all of my fundraising goals, that everybody's having a wonderful experience as part of the process.  So I think the hardest thing sometimes is getting pulled in so many different directions.  I wish there was like three of me, but there's only one of me.  That gets challenging. It's always slightly working out of my comfort zone. 

 Amanda Schlachter: what would be the most  rewarding or one of the things I'm sure there's lots of different rewards,

Summer Dawn Wallace: Oh God. There's so many  sometimes it's not even about the play itself. When I get to see what wonderful work the artists are doing, it just gives me such pleasure particularly. If I'm working with an artist that I might have also worked with as a student it makes me  so proud of them. That's extremely rewarding for me. It's really rewarding for me. When I see artists connecting with each other to me, what I think has evolved from me wanting to  create art and have opportunities that left in my scope very early for me, what the most rewarding thing about being able to run a theater is to provide so many other people with opportunities.  And,  I still  have to always figured it out on my own. And  even though I grew up with this amazing theater didn't really have mentors, I just kind of had to figure it out. It's very important to me to make sure that I can provide mentorship. I can support artists.  And that's been really the most rewarding is providing opportunities for other playwrights, other actors, our interns, that's to me the best part about running a theater. 

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. And we're so appreciative. Many of our students have gotten the opportunity to work with you all, and we're always so grateful and they always come back and they've learned so much. So I really do see how , you've become a mentorship wing in the community as well that they can really get support and grow to the next level after they've been taking classes. So with that, What advice would you give a young aspiring artists director, or even somebody who just sees themselves in performing arts professionally? 

 Summer Dawn Wallace: One, I would say, create your own work and create your own opportunities.   I've been thinking about this a lot lately with  what's happening in the theatrical world, which is exciting and changes occurring that,   in order to even get a voice. At this table, I had to build it literally to get in the room. And if I hadn't done that, I don't know if I would have had that voice. and that came out of creating my own opportunities and a lot of luck and timing along the way. So a big one I would say is,  create your own work. A lot of this business is kind of who, you know, and who can help you. So sometimes just sitting in a room or, getting into a really great intern or apprentice program  not being afraid to ask for help, not being afraid that if you get into a play and even if you're. Ensemble tree number four on the left. That director, if they can have a meeting with you,  use those opportunities that sometimes I feel as artists we're like afraid to ask for help or afraid to not know what we're doing,  I'm always like, I have no idea what I'm doing. 

 Amanda Schlachter: Yeah,   that's terrific.  I'm going to share this with all my acting students. It's going out. As soon as it releases  cause they need,  to hear this and they need to hear it from a wide range of voices and people that are running professional theaters.  We're  gonna take a little break right now. And then when we return, we're going to learn about the upcoming virtual events happening with the Modern Works Festival. So stay tuned for more. We'll be back in a minute.

Welcome back to the Suncoast Culture Club. I'm here with Summer Dawn Wallace, co-artistic director of Urbanite theater. So we want to dive right back in to talk about what you're doing now and chat about the Modern Works Festival.  I'm curious how the concept and the idea for this came into existence.

Summer Dawn Wallace: Is the third  time we've done the festival. I can't say annual because of that whole thing that happened with 2020. Yeah. So initially  we were season planning and  we've always been very conscientious of making sure that we've had a quality amongst the plays that we were doing in terms of Equal representation. And I thought, well, I think we could do more.  Sarasota has such a funny  schedule in that,  we triple in size in   season, but there are one of  year round patrons that are here. So it was like, what is  another program that we could introduce that we don't have to be concerned  it's not a full production cause we couldn't  handle that workload. and I laugh.  Modern Works just like planning eight weddings at the same time. what'd you don't know what you don't know.    We take play submissions from across the country.  An in the festival, I should say, it's not just about female playwrights. It's about female theater makers. Because in this industry female playwrights are underrepresented on stage. It's just true. We're finally getting a little moment right now and some momentum and I hope that doesn't die. Also women of color have been totally left out of the conversation a lot in terms of women in theater. And so  the festival is, providing more opportunities for women. To work, to collaborate with each other and to connect. So  if submissions from across the country have plays, it's panel of all female readers who are screening these plays, and then we pass the plays. We choose these three finalists and then the playwright is supported with a dramaturg. A professional director and a professional cast rehearsal hours. It's not a lot of rehearsal.  You can only do so much in this wee period of time. And then prior to all things COVID, we would do three readings of that play in the space, a talk back after each play. And so that way the playwright could also see how the audience responded to their work. And what was landing, what wasn't landing, maybe what was. Confusing to really support some play development on this piece.  It is a contest. So every playwright is provided with $500  honorarium award. And then the winner of the festival gets a total of 3000. So that's kind of where it started. And then amongst the festival, we do additional programming featuring Panels with other female playwrights or makers. We've had guest speakers, Martina Mayak Lori ne that have come in and been  our featured speaker for the event behind the scenes work. What do women in technical theater do, which was just really, really loved. And this year it being virtual   what I miss is having,  50 women all in Sarasota working on theater together. So I have that we're just on little computer screens. But because it's virtual,  net that we're being able to cast in term of the artists that we're able to work with. , if you usually fly the playwrights in and we,  bring actors in and I only have so much housing, I always joke that the festival, I have bodies everywhere, motels, Airbnb. So not having that this year, I can kind of work with directors that aren't local. Not that we don't have amazing local directors here, but an opportunity to meet new artists. To get to know how they work and to connect for other future opportunities down the road. So this year, the women that have joined the festival, I'm just so thrilled. We're working in three different time zones, which is kind of crazy. And then this year, the panels are gonna feature female playwrights of plays that we've produced in the past. So that way we're gonna have little bit of a knowledge of  the play that, that play right has written. So we've got Jennifer faucet who did Apples and Winter Elizabeth Heffron, Bonita. And then I call her the OJI, but Anna Jordan. her play Chicken Shop, we've done two plays. Chicken Shop and Freak of hers, but Chicken Shop was our very first Urbanite play that we ever did. And we were theatre makers who approach this amazing playwright and said, we want to do your play. We're opening up a new theater.  By the way, can you adapt this play and set it to the States? And she said, yes.    doing a panel this year. So I'm  so excited for patrons to get, to meet her.

Amanda Schlachter:  Can you talk a little bit about the plays some of the actors or directors? 

Summer Dawn Wallace: Yeah. So we've got three different plays are very different from each other.  Very different style. We have a play Nick and the Prize Fighter by Camilla Bush Crystal and Lloyd, who's going to be directing. She was in that little thing called Dear Evan Hansen. You might've heard of it. 

Amanda Schlachter: Oh, just that. 

Sure. 

Summer Dawn Wallace: And Camilla's play. It's just amazing. And the fact that this was her COVID baby,  I'm just like, wow, you did a lot more productive things  over the course of this last year than I did. It's this beautiful play where we need a  father and daughter say let and Forest. Forest is a playwright and he's finishing out his legacy of this last commission of a play that he has to write for a theater. And  it was kind of referred to as the other August Wilson. And then there is  a young journalist who's  interviewing him working with him and  may or may not be trying to steal his work or take credit for his work in this play that Forrest has  developed and you meet this amazing powerhouse daughter who is  supporting and taking care of her dad and the legacy of  the black father figure and playwright and  dating  across the races.  She writes characters so beautifully and I can't wait for us to dive in and work on it. So, that's one of her pieces, then we have This is a Mortality Play Set in an Office Depot,   

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah, I was going to say very different. 

Summer Dawn Wallace: Absurdist in nature Lavina Jadhwani going to be directing it. Audiences might know her from she directed Roe at the Asolo. And we've been wanting to work with the Lavina for a very long time. So we're  so excited that she said yes, and if we weren't doing virtual, I don't know if she would have been able to make time in her very busy schedule to do this.  It's a funny funny play and these characters are kind of stuck or examining, might they be in this time loop and existential crisis and what are you doing with your life?   Very few things make me laugh out loud and this play had me laughing so hard I was crying.  And it also has these beautiful  moments that really make you think it has some like tender moments too, so super excited.   All of our playwrights are just amazing. So I'm  like, Oh my gosh, this is wonderful this year. Then we have a Skeptic and a Brouhaha written by Rosa Fernandez, and I've never seen a play like this one before it has  like a spooky element. This character Priscilla, she  wanting to run a BNB. There's some paranormal activity happening within the house.  Kind of a ghost investigation team  comes in and they have  their own podcast TV show where one is a not.

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.

Summer Dawn Wallace: And there's like spook and scare moments within the play that are  written in. So  as an audience member, you're not sure what is real and what's not real. but it's not just about  the ghost story elements. She written some really amazing characters and we learn about them and their journeys that they go through. And  I've never seen a play that quite captures both of these things meshed together.  So that's super exciting directors. Theresa Mon, she works with San Diego Rep. So once again, if we weren't in COVID and we weren't doing virtual,  she would be able to fit us into her schedule. So I'm just amazed at  the women that are joining this year. And we have two dramaturgs, Meredith Barton, who  was with us last year. She's coming back. And then working with a new dramaturg Lindsay Jenkins, who'sin LA, so it super exciting and we're in the casting process, like mad because the festival starts yesterday. It feels like.

Amanda Schlachter: right,

Summer Dawn Wallace: so, yeah, I'm just so excited and, I know audience and patrons, and everybody might be a little zoomed out, it's been a long year  Urbanites, not done anything on Zoom.  We're known for kind of our intimate, honest work  But with Zoom in play development, it's really the festivals about supporting these playwrights in these texts. And so much of that work of can happen on Zoom. So I really hope patrons tune in.  Not only would they hear amazing plays that by the time they're hearing it  it might be a different play than when we started with on Monday than what we actually are doing when they see it. They are truly supporting  the new voices in the theatrical canon, and it's a chance to get, to see their work, in a way that, is going to be unique because all of these playwrights are going places and are already there, 

Amanda Schlachter: During the rehearsal period too, that the playwrights still making adjustments.  See that's interesting as well. I didn't know that. 

Summer Dawn Wallace: Yeah. And  some of the plays  the playwright just might need to hear them out loud and it might be small changes in the past.  We've had our playwrights make significant, huge changes  within the process.  And they're not required to,  it's their baby. if they want to, we try to support them through that 

  Amanda Schlachter:  I was having a discussion in script analysis yesterday about playwriting,  I was saying,  this play that we're holding, , the years it took to get to this publication that we're now discussing it. And it's so important because  it's such a labor of love and passion. And  to be able to give them that space. And like you said, to support females, Was in this profession because     

Summer Dawn Wallace:  It's really just about supporting marginalized voices period.  I think  audience members see  a finished product and it takes so much work. Till it's ready to get to that finished place. And then it might not even be finished.  At one way in time and you have to say, okay, enough tinkering. And I feel, as a theater maker, it takes a lot of trust on,  these playwrights who trust us at Urbanite. That we're going to give them the team around them. We're going to be supportive and, they're opening their workup. And  I I'm so honored that 

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah, absolutely. So listeners support Modern Works?  And also just how can we support Urbanite in general? 

Summer Dawn Wallace:  So the Modern Works festival is going to be happening April 14th through the 18th. You can go direct and for our website, tickets are currently on sale now. We have a few different tickets structures. We have a $20 ticket basically for your household, so people can do that. We have an under 40 ticket. We have a $10 Industry ticket. So if you're a theater professional,  there's a $10 ticket for you because everybody Yep in the entertainment business has been out of work.   let me five dollar students. 

Amanda Schlachter: Okay.

Summer Dawn Wallace:  It was asking me,  how do you people prove? And I call it the honor system.  If you need to buy a $5 ticket, you need to buy a $5 ticket,  So people can buy tickets. You could also add a donation onto your ticket.  Any donations that we receive are gonna go directly back into making this festival happened, you know, this year from an expense place, it's probably our most expensive festival that we're going to be doing because we want to provide as much.   Support for artist monetarily that we can, because artists have been out of work for a year. So donate right on our website. You can get tickets for the festival. You can also personally email me, , if you want to know more about the playwright,  I'm more than happy to  talk about the festival or to talk about Urbanites and we've got  our season planning, we're  hoping we will be opening back up again,  traditionally in our space, hopefully November, December, flexible with where we are in  this, 

Amanda Schlachter: absolutely. And with  COVID and  we've all been in this, but for either yourself personally, or at Urbanite, has there been something creatively that's come out of this pandemic? What's come out of it for you as challenging as it's been. 

Summer Dawn Wallace: I think for The company, we've had to  think. What are some alternative programming that we can do? Because our space is intimate. So even social distancing in our space, you can't do, you cannot,  so it's kind of, out of it is having to think about,  what else could we do and, creating some other partnerships within that. So I think that's been some. Artistic freedom.  And then for me personally, I think  leading a simpler life and call it I've trimmed the fat, so to speak in that it's made me what is squeeze my loved ones closer and Making sure that I'm being as supportive to the people in my life that I can be. And   every day  I'm still kicking. I'm still breathing. I'm still here.  I feel really thankful. 

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah.   So I'm curious of your like perfect date night on the Suncoast 

Summer Dawn Wallace: Oh, my gosh. date night my perfect date night is usually not at the theater, just because I spend much time at it.  Oh gosh. Well I have five rescue dogs, so I would say  I love when you're going out to Lido and you're going over to that bridge.  I used to call it an, I only say this because I am from Tennessee, so no one get mad at me, but we used to call it beach. But now it's beautiful.  That's when you're going over the bridge over there to the,  side. Now it's like the beautiful park area. But I love to go there. Walk my dogs, have a nice little  picnic kind of dinner situation with,  a bottle of wine and then kind of just looking at the Bayfront cause it's so beautiful.  Sarasota is so gorgeous and we're always busy  I'm like I live here.

then it just Yep, yep. Yeah. 

And so that, that's a great date night. I think it's like really fun. once we get out of COVID I think I I can't wait to go dancing. so that's  on my to-do list  really listen to  live music go to every restaurant in town.  That's  on my to-do list.

Amanda Schlachter: Okay. Do you have  any particular restaurants or coffee houses you really love 

Summer Dawn Wallace: So I'm a vegetarian, I bounce back and forth between being a vegetarian vegan. I should be a vegan, I love Laila Lila, Lila, sorry, owners  that's one of my favorite spots and I really love Baker and Wife.

  The Baker and Wife is right off of 301 and Siesta Drive.  There's like the mall Plaza. That's on one side,  there's like a post office it's in that kind of post office the side of her, on the left.  They changed their menu up. It's super cute. Very. I would say farmhouse, modern, inspired and kind of decor. to go  

Amanda Schlachter: that out and,   you already kind of touched on it, but I'm just curious when  things are as normal or the new normal. Is there anything besides what you've shared that you're like, this is what I want to do when comes back.

Summer Dawn Wallace: .

I mean, selfishly, I can't wait to go and get  a pedicure and  a proper haircut.  That's a dream. Cannot wait. And then I really  want to , see some of my family that I haven't been able to see that makes me super excited. And then I said dancing. And I think the biggest thing is I'm a toucher, so I can't wait to  hug and squeeze everyone.  Yeah.  because I haven't been able to do that for a year. And it was like a shoulder Tapper, you know? Like, how are you? 

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah. Yeah. I got this vision of all these like group hugs happening once things, you know, walking down. Oh, 

Summer Dawn Wallace: The biggest one. I cannot wait to go to Bikram Yoga. 

Amanda Schlachter: woo.

Summer Dawn Wallace: wait. , I get my second vaccine April 8th. And so then once I'm cleared, I will be at hot yoga every single day and  I cannot wait.   I'm going to cry.  I've been,   doing it by myself, in my living room for a year. So can't wait to  what I just being able to like, 

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah, absolutely. Well, Summer, this has been awesome. And I really thank you for taking your time, because I know this is  a really busy time for you. and thank you again for all you do for our students here in the work that you and Urbanite offer. So you are now So welcome to the club.

Summer Dawn Wallace: I've never been in a club before, so 

Amanda Schlachter: Yeah, you're in now, you're in forever and ever, and we hope when you have other projects, you'll come back and share them with us because that's really one of the main missions for the Culture Club is to get people, being able to talk about their projects. So when we have visitors and tourists come, they can look up really what's happening currently.

Summer Dawn Wallace:  Great. Anytime.