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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Come and par-taay with Miss July and the Girls of Relapse Calendar

Relapse Comedy Theatre has something in store for you as one of their own, Sarah Simmons Turner — who’s commonly known as the “Balls of Improv” — has been crowned “Miss July” for the Girls of Relapse Calendar. She gave me a sneak peek at some very risqué photos for the upcoming calendar and it’s definitely a lot for the guys and girls to awe over!

The bubbly Miss July was raised in Winston-Salem, N.C., and started her acting career a bit earlier than most by landing a spot in a Midwestern television kids program called “Uncle Al’s Show.” That’s quite an accomplishment for the tender age of 3.

Sarah has continued to expand her career in Atlanta, living and working here for the last 6 years. In spring of 2011, she proudly snagged the title as dean of Relapse University, which includes duties such as running and organizing the education program at Relapse, registering students, and assisting with marketing approaches that build comedic relief to the audience.


Although improv and acting consume the majority of Sarah’s life, she adores ACC basketball, going to the movies, watching the Atlanta Braves, and attending art festivals. She may not have many family members in Georgia, but when asked what makes her heart sing, she says, “The arts community. In acting, especially at Relapse, you gain a close relationship with those amongst you who become family, and that makes me happy.”

In the process of peeling layers we also learned that Miss July isn’t just an advocate for peace but recently participated in the Occupy Atlanta protests. What would she occupy in Atlanta? Her ballsy reply was, “Kasim Reed’s office!” The Occupy Atlanta protester also believes that “people are demonstrating civil disobedience, while the politicians fight for votes it encourages the protesters to fight for a voice.”
Besides being political and basking in theatrical efforts, it’s interesting to learn that theatrics aren’t a part of Sarah’s background. Her mother, Ginny Simmons, worked in the volunteer section of a children’s hospital before becoming a stay-at-home mom. Her father, Randy Simmons, started his career in sales and management at Labcorp; eventually he landed a spot at the top, where he now holds the title of Senior VP. Witnessing the dedication of her father’s work ethic inspired Sarah to advance within the field of acting. “My father has always been a hard, incredible, and tenacious worker. I’ve learned from him that you don’t always have to be the smartest in the class, but you have to try the hardest.”

Indeed, effort counts for everything. Miss July isn’t just known for her uproar of confidence, but as an inspiration and partner in crime to some. She’s an observer, and an inspirational quote queen. What draws you in the most about Sarah is her dedication; I, too, was captivated as she explained the ladder you must climb to attain your goals as she speaks of doing “image intensives” while furthering her career in acting. “Within acting, you’re not getting hired for someone else, you’re doing this for yourself, and that is where doing intensives come into play. These sessions are extremely helpful for people within this business because it forces you to face the things held under the surface that you refuse to peel back.” These intensives are composed of a cram session that generally lasts eight weeks into a complete weekend, and take into account how the actor is perceived by the notable host — usually a casting director — based on their looks, vocabulary, and personality — quite harsh if they’re perceived like Charlie Sheen. Depending on your outlook, intensives could be considered raw, refreshing, or tedious!


Technical training aside, it’s all about putting it out there once the training is done, Sarah says. “The shit you learn in the classroom is definitely important, but where you grow your wings is on stage. That’s where all your training comes to life and you fly!”
“People are in this business for different reasons. Acting is almost like a drug. When I’m traveling, I try to find local theaters to do improv. It’s almost like an addiction to the spotlight lingering from the feeling you’re left with from entertaining people. Women have to be bold, period, but in this business girls bring a different perspective to acting and improv. Within acting, it requires you to become a naturalist, instilling the actuality that you have to know who you are.”

While the spotlight is still beaming on Miss July you can catch up with the action of Relapse Theatre during their weekly events, including one on Thursday, Nov. 10: the release of their Girls of Relapse calendar. The Girls of Relapse are providing an excuse for a new monthly addiction — although you could just declare yourself an avid supporter of these creatively inclined beings that happen to call their home a 20,000-square-foot venue off 14th Street. The theater's TBD move to Atlantic Station will not only create a new residency, but ensure an enormous following of newcomers! The thing that sets Relapse Theatre apart isn’t the appeal of the church-like venue, however, but that it’s a company that builds profits to benefit the community. Relapse not only allows creative expression for inspiring artists, but recognizes talent within others and encourages networking opportunities for the public.

That, and having fun, of course! Which is the whole point of tomorrow night’s GOR Calendar release party. Shellie Schmals, the Gilrs of Relapse marketing director, and Jen Thrasher, artistic director, led the GOR Calendar project and will be on hand to celebrate, along with Miss July. Come meet her in person, with the rest of the Relapse crew. It’s bound to be more fun that a year’s worth of Jello shots — which increases the laughter!

FREE 18+/ Full bar 21+
Thurs., Nov. 10. (8 p.m.-1 a.m.)
Relapse Theatre, 380 14th Street N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 343-0347
Calendars will be available for a $15 purchase.

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