Even before the election that transformed billionaire reality TV star Donald J. Trump into the 45th president of the United States, playwright Robert Schenkkan was so disturbed by the candidate’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that he decided to respond. Not with a Tweet. Not with an opinion-page essay. The Pulitzer Prize winner spoke back to candidate Trump with a full-length play. “Building..
“Baño de Luna,” written and directed by Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and presented by Arca Images and the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, marks the debut of the Spanish-language version of “Bathing in Moonlight,” the original English production that debuted at the prestigious McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., in 2016. Performed by a stellar cast in Spanish..
Rafael Nofal’s play “El tiempo de la mandarinas” (“Season for Tangerines”) tackles the very relevant and disturbing theme of human trafficking. Produced by Antiheroes Project, this moving play is in its last week at Artefactus Teatro, a well-purposed black box and gallery space in a smattering of warehouses in Kendall. Nofal’s text removes overt violence and male characters fr..
Joshua Harmon’s savagely funny “Bad Jews” is an emotional cage match set in a pricey Manhattan studio apartment. The combatants are Daphna Feygenbaum (Hannah Benitez), a soon-to-be Vassar grad who plans to move to Israel, marry a man no one in the family has met and become a rabbi, and her cousin Liam Haber (Joseph Paul Pino), a master’s degree candidate and atheist who intends to..
The play begins, as it must, with the velvet voice of Nat King Cole crooning “Mona Lisa.” After all, how many paintings inspire an Oscar-winning song? For that matter, how many masterpieces survive damage, theft and the rapacious covetousness of collectors for more than half a millennium? Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Gioconda,” popularly known as the Mona Lisa, is that inspi..
A casual conversation with a fellow theater artist prompted José Manuel Dominguez, founder and artistic director of Antiheroes Project, to produce the company’s latest piece, “El tiempo de las mandarinas,” (“Season for Tangerines”) by Argentine playwright Rafael Nofal. “I am drawn to themes of memory, dreams, and paradise lost, but for a long time I’ve wanted to do a play based on reality,” sa..
The 32nd International Hispanic Theatre Festival kicks off on Thursday, July 6 with the Mexican company Los Tristes Tigres’ irreverent spin on Shakespeare, “Algo de un tal Shakespeare” (“Something by One Shakespeare”). Founder and director Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the festival’s engine that could and still can, identifies this raucous play as part of the festival’s larger goal of attracting..
Nowadays, it’s tough not to feel worried, paranoid or in need of some escapist relief from the steady flow of oh-no-he-didn’t news out of Washington. Miami playwright Theo Reyna feels your pain. His response is “Firemen Are Rarely Necessary,” a jet-black satire now getting its Mad Cat Theatre Company world premiere at Miami Theater Center’s Sand Box. The play takes intricately aim..
Pearl Cleage’s play “Flyin’ West,” an M Ensemble production currently on stage at the beautiful new performing arts center in Liberty City, the Sandrell Rivers Theatre, is set in humble Nicodemus, Kansas, the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the reconstruction period following the Civil War. Set in 1898, the play focuses on the lives of Sophie (Brandiss ..
Esteban, (http://estebanlapelicula.com/en/) the debut of Cuban director Jonal Cosculluela being premiered at The Miami Light Project tells the story of a 9 year old, living in Havana with his mother, who’s raising him as a single parent, and his perseverance following his dream of becoming a musician. The challenges seem overwhelming. Esteban and his mother struggle to make ends meet (htt..
Choreographer Jeanguy Saintus works primarily from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but his creative work has global appeal. He is a pioneering artist who blends Haiti’s traditional music and dance alongside more contemporary styles of movement and music. He isn’t afraid to throw in some Tchaikovsky or Ravel.
His company Ayikodans annually premieres new work at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, and Miami has become a kind of home base for the company. This year, their sixth season in Miami, Ayikodans returns with two new world premieres, Rencontres and Initiation.
Jumping into the political conversation about gay rights, Rencontres is inspired by struggles he observed in Haiti. It features a male duet plus a solo piece by emerging choreographer Johnnoiry Saint Philippe. The other, Initiation, is a creative take on a vodoun initiation with Ogun, the god of iron and fire.
We spoke with Saintus as he was preparing for the company’s trip to Miami, to learn more about his perspective on the art and politics of the moment.
Ayikodans has just returned from traveling abroad, right?
Yes, we came back from two trips recently. We went to Sweden for a dance exchange on how we work as contemporary choreographers, using inspiration from the traditional dances and the reality of Haiti. And also we went to French Guyana for a dance festival they’ve been organizing for the past 20 years.
What is your creative edge right now?
My artistic development is based on all the things I’m seeing and experiencing in my everyday life. Last week, I was thinking about everything happening in the United States. The U.S. is super powerful for everybody in the world. And for us in Haiti, even though we used to be a French colony, the United States is an example. Sometimes you live the American dream even in Port-au-Prince. That’s why you have all those Haitians in Miami and everywhere.
As an artist, it’s natural to respond to current events.
I think my work will always be somehow political. Like Rencontres. Three or four months ago, a festival was planned to talk about gay pride. I was kind of shocked to see how people reacted, they had to cancel the festival. People were talking about gay pride, we are not ready, let them do this in their country, Haiti is not ready. And people are starving on the street, kids cannot go to school. It would be lovely if the politicians could invest in having all these kids going to school instead of paying attention to others’ private lives. So Rencontres was inspired in part by this. When you put the duet with two men on stage, coming from a country like Haiti or now in the United States of America, it will be political.
How do you see your role as an artist?
What I’ve been doing for the past 30 years, [is] trying to change people’s lives. The ones who don’t have access to dance, I try to go to them through my dance project Danspyenu, telling the young dancers or young artists approaching me, you have the right to dream and miracles are still possible.
I know that I cannot change the world. I am not very powerful and I don’t have the money to do it. You also become realistic. But I will still try to play my role and fight as a dance activist.
Ayikodans, Thursday through Saturday, 7:30 p.m., with Saturday matinee, 2:00 p.m.; Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami; tickets: $40; 305-949-6722, www.arshtcenter.org.
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