The performing arts community in St Petersburg is thriving.
According to actress Katie Berger, the arts community is about growth and development and help people of all ages progress their acting skills.
Berger performed in the St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival’s 2016 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Snell House courtyard on the USF St. Petersburg campus.
“It’s a really cool experience to be part of the company grounding itself,” Berger said.
Before performing in Florida, Berger, 25, was a resident member of a theater in Minnesota.
“I went in (the theater) as someone who was hired on and I kind of had a place and job already set for me,” Berger said. “In St. Pete, I have more of a family and home –it’s more inclusive –we’re all on the same team.”
Aside from acting, Berger wrote a musical called Full, and performed in the play as the lead actress in its September 2015 Tampa Bay debut. She said, “(The process) was very collaborative, which was amazing.”
Members of the Tampa Bay arts community from various theaters and organization came together to help fundraise, set up and promote the musical.
“The community fed us. Everyone was so willing to help and was so excited to see what happened next,” Berger said. “I don’t think that I could have gotten it on its feet anywhere else.”
Natalie Cottrill, 15, has had a similar experience and said that being a part of the performing arts community helped her realize her career aspirations.
“I would love to continue performing because of this community that I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to know,” Cottrill said.
Cottrill started performing when she was nine years old, when her mother signed her up for a musical theater class to bring her out of her shell. Since then, she has performed at venues such as Tampa’s Straz Center, the St. Petersburg Opera Company and free Fall Theatre.
Cottrill said as a high school student, she had to find ways to maintain her classes and performing arts schedule.
“Balancing high school, advanced level classes, while participating in professional shows can be tough at times, but the outcome couldn’t be more worth it,” she said.
Cottrill goes to class during the day and attends rehearsals at night.
Tampa Bay’s performing arts scene provides opportunities for both those who create and those who appreciate the arts. And because so many contribute, the community becomes a melting pot of creativity.