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‘Catalyst Sessions’ recap: Veronica Leone Matthews

Bill DeYoung

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From western North Carolina, where she and her husband are staying with relatives through the pandemic, St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival artistic director Veronica Leone Matthews checked in with The Catalyst Sessions Wednesday.

Matthews co-founded the nonprofit theatrical company in 2014, at the University of Florida St. Petersburg, and after three years the productions moved to the big public stage at Williams Park.

She came to love seeing and hearing Shakespeare’s works performed outdoors, she explained, when she began working with American Stage at the age of 11. American Stage discontinued its Bard-under-the-stars series in 2006.

It’s not always easy keeping an all-volunteer group going on limited funds, but Matthews passionately believes in the power of Shakespeare, and the dedication of the Tampa Bay theater community – both performers and patrons.

And she’s particularly pleased with the company’s ongoing collaboration with thestudio@620 and its founder, Bob Devin Jones.

“He’s so focused on, and so good at, getting the actors to really embody what they’re saying,” she explained. “And I feel like this is something that I’m lacking. And we’ve talked about it at length.

“So when we’re in rehearsal together … we figured out our separate spaces. Like ‘This is the kind of thing I excel at, and this is the thing that you excel at,’ and so we’re able to really let each other move forward that way. And I’m learning so much from him in rehearsal.”

Today on The Catalyst Sessions: Musician Katie Talbert, the woman behind those amazing DTSP Live: Saved By Streaming videos.

Weekdays at 7 p.m. on the Catalyst Facebook page. All episodes are archived on our YouTube page.

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