By Rodger Skidmore
Welcome to the Metaverse
To some the Metaverse is scary and to others it is a bright new tomorrow. Of course, “tomorrow” is the key word as most of its features, and how it is to be delivered, are still under development.
If you’ve read about virtual reality, you know that you wear a helmet or goggles that project a totally different reality around you. Everything that you see is projected on the screen just in front of your eyes. So, if you see a wolf charging at you and you jump to your left to get out of the way, you may bump into a chair or a wall, or step on your dog’s tail.
The augmented reality of the Metaverse is different. What you see around you is intermixed with actual reality. If the wolf is charging you, you can step around the chair and the wolf will run through the chair. But don’t worry, if it seems to bite you, its teeth will pass right through you without tearing any flesh. Great, right?
It seems that Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook fame, may one day be offering a meta-home that you will be able to buy (or more likely lease with unending payments). That way, while you huddle in your cramped studio apartment, you can look around and envision yourself in one room of a 15-room McMansion, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from one window and the Pacific Ocean from another. Yes, for only $$$$/month you may be able to have glorious sunrises and sunsets — or at least think you have. Thunderstorms in the distance and a yacht tied up to your imaginary dock would be extra.
So, how to tell, now, how much fun the Metaverse will be? Simple, take a trip to Selby Gardens’ Spanish Point campus between now and August. And, to make it more fun, take along some children. The children can be 40 or 50 years old, or 5 or 10. The age doesn’t matter — what matters is how much fun seeing all this will be for you and for them — and how to keep up with them as they dash about all the other gorgeous attractions that are there.
And, what will you see? That depends: Seeing the Invisible, the exhibition at Spanish Point, is also at 11 other botanical gardens around the world, so each one is different. In each exhibition, including this one, you might see a tent made of red colored aluminum tiles floating in the air — under which a small child may run. Or, see a large vase full of flowers outside the butterfly pavilion (yes, there is a butterfly garden at Spanish Point). Anything special about the beautiful bouquet of flowers? Yes, watch it for 15 seconds or so and it will explode into butterflies flying in all directions.
Before you arrive at Spanish Point, download the Seeing the Invisible app onto your smart phone or tablet (they can help you at the welcome pavilion). Taking a photo or doing a screen grab of a water monster slithering near your grandchild will make a great keepsake. Ask the helpful staff how to do it.
Whoops — news flash. The exhibition, Seeing the Invisible, which was to end this August, has just been extended to August of 2023. This does not mean that you have over a full year to see it. It means that you should see Seeing the Invisible now so that you have time to see it again with other friends and family. More info at Selby.org.
New plays, new insights
It can be enjoyable to watch new versions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Hamlet, but perhaps even more enjoyable is seeing new playwrights’ takes on things more current.
Athena, now on stage at the Urbanite Theatre, provides us with views from two perspectives that are not normally shown. The first is a view of the lives of teenagers, which is not often presented on stage. This story of two girls in their late teens is performed with the seemingly truly spoken words of the teens themselves, as they parry and thrust in more ways than one. Practicing for the National Fencing Championship, they become frenemies. They need to train together so they may compete against others and then against each other. This can certainly bring out one’s best and worst, confronting oneself while confronting another.
The second perspective, a now somewhat more frequently shown viewpoint, is that of a playwright who is not a white male. Gracie Gardner is the author of, at last count, nine plays, none of which has been performed here in Sarasota but which have won at least, at last count, six grants and awards. Info at Urbanite.org.
For this production at the Urbanite and the one at Florida Studio Theatre discussed next, the viewpoint of a male playwright would certainly be valued, but only as much as that of a female’s (or other’s) viewpoint, as the world is made up of so many diverse peoples. Perhaps seeing the world through someone else’s eyes helps us to understand how the world really is. If you look at something with one eye closed, everything is flat and has less meaning. Open both eyes are there is greater depth.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Audrey Cefaly ‘s play, Maytag Virgin, is just opening (June 29) at FST’s Keating Theatre. The backstory is that two small-town high school teachers are neighbors and both have lost their partners. And, no spoiler alert necessary, there is friction between them. This play, while having a good comedic bent, also provides deep insights into the depths of human emotion. Voted “best comedy” in Atlanta and called “unflinchingly honest” in Washington, D.C. (finding anything unflinchingly honest in D.C. is quite something) a balance is created that keeps dark areas light enough for most comfort zones. Kate Alexander’s deft directorial touch keeps everything moving nicely. Info at FloridaStudioTheatre.Org.
When does the world end?
Based on observable evidence, probably the evening of July 30. The question is, which world will end?
It will be the world of advanced ballet students. The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School’s Summer Intensive ends with a performance at the Sarasota Opera House on that day.
Another question: What is an intensive — summer or otherwise? It is when some of the best young up-and-coming ballet artists gather together in Sarasota, to cram as much practice, technique, and knowledge into their minds and bodies as they can, so that their aim of living the ballet-dream can come true. On this day, their world of being Summer Intensive students will end and they will show the greater world around them how much they have learned. You may become part of their new world by attending that Saturday evening’s performance of On Stage 2022. And, if you love ballet (classical, contemporary, or modern), perhaps be blown away by how much these burgeoning pre-professional dancers can do. Spurring them on will be guest artists from the London Royal Ballet — Francisco Serrano and Charlotte Tonkinson — in excerpts from Le Corsaire. More info at SRQCubanBallet.Org and Tickets.SarasotaOpera.Org/5970/5971.