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Actors’ Playhouse has been a musical powerhouse for much of its history. Launching its 30th anniversary season at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, the company is revisiting some of that history with a new production of a made-for-South Florida favorite: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Evita.” As it did in 2000 when recent Tony Award winner Rachel Bay Jones starred as Eva Duart..

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks won the Pulitzer Prize for “Topdog/Underdog” in 2002. But as Zoetic Stage’s superb new production of the play at Miami’s Arsht Center demonstrates, her funny, shocking tale of two brothers struggling to survive is as potent today as it was 15 years ago. Maybe more so, given the country’s deepening divide. Parks’ harrowing drama examines the complex relation..

We are born. We live, have families, grow old. We die, leaving those who loved us to mourn. Playwright Thornton Wilder brilliantly captured the eternal verities of our journey through life in “Our Town,” his 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about life, love and death in a small New Hampshire town at the turn of the 20th century. If you’re at all drawn to theater, you’ve probably ..

“Miami Motel Stories: Little Havana” written by Juan C. Sanchez, directed by Tamilla Woodard, and produced by Juggerknot Theatre Company, is a site-specific, immersive theater experience that interweaves narrative, performance, history and architecture. Nine short plays take place in nine hotel rooms on the second floor of the Tower Hotel, right off Calle Ocho on Seventh Street. Sanchez, ..

Artistic director and founder of Juggerknot Theatre Company, Tanya Bravo, had her first brush with immersive theater in New York City when she met director Tamilla Woodard. Working on the play “Broken City,” Bravo and other actors led audience members on a theatrical journey through the streets of the Lower East Side. “I was so blown away by the concept and the lines that were crossed between ..

We humans do love our rituals. When an extended family gathers for the holidays, familiar traditions promise a comforting respite from an increasingly complex, chaotic world. Still, realistically, troubles and fears refuse to be left behind. They surface like unwelcome guests. So do resentments and stinging remarks born of deep knowledge. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, you wonder: ..

After a tryout run in Chicago, 34 previews and 746 performances on Broadway, and a tour launch in Buffalo, “On Your Feet!” has finally opened in the place where Cuban-born music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan made their dreams come true: Miami. At Friday’s red carpet opening at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, with the Estefans and their extended family in atte..

Whether the comedy is high or low, performer-writer Steve Martin has been making moviegoers, “Saturday Night Live” fans and theater lovers laugh for more than half a century – hard to believe it’s been that long, but he started early. Martin’s way with both cerebral jokes and physical comedy is abundantly on display in “The Underpants,” his 2002 adaptation of Carl Sternheim’s once-ban..

Robert Schenkkan’s “Building the Wall” begins as a wary conversation between two strangers: Rick, a white male convict awaiting a likely death sentence, and Gloria, a black female historian and college professor. For 90 minutes, the two talk. She probes; he explains and justifies and slowly paints a picture of a man-made Seventh Circle of Hell. By the time the play ends, the audience ..

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ award-winning play “An Octoroon” layers an antebellum melodrama with 21st-century parlance and perspective. The result is an innovative play-within-a-play that skillfully reminds us of slavery’s horrible past and its ever-present legacy. Area Stage Company’s production, thoughtfully directed by John Rodaz, brings together a talented cast to ensure this melodra..

Baba Israel and MDC Live Arts Summer Lab


Photo: Baba Israel
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It’s 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning and 12 artists are being led through a warm up by New York-based theater artist Baba Israel. They reply to his command with twists and bends, finding complimentary motion in a partner across the room. An organic call erupts from one, and the others answer in response.

Such is the process during MDC Live Arts second annual month-long Live Arts Lab, created to offer Miami-based artists the opportunity to deepen their craft through rigorous study with master artists.

“Education is such a big part of MDC Live Arts, especially being based at Miami Dade College,” says Kathryn Garcia, MDC Live Arts Executive Director. “We wanted to expand on the education opportunities we already offer with something deeper. Something that would provide opportunities for our local artists to have experiences that challenges themselves and experiment with the creation of new work.”

In its first year, choreographer Nora Chipaumire explored the process of creating work -- asking participating artists: What is your voice as artists, what are you telling me and why should I care?

This year, Israel focuses on personal narrative and archive in performance. “We explore writing, spoken word, verse, as well as creating text through improvisation, recording, and collaboration,” he explains. Classes have seen the participants mixing physical exercises, working with original writings and bringing a theatrical element to dramatizations of stories from their lives.

“We are focused on developing a personal ethic when working with personal narratives, a philosophy on what each artist’s intention is around real stories and real life,” Israel says. “There’s been a lot of group development work, it’s a good chance for them to look at creating solo journeys.”

The artists participating in the Lab are a diverse representation of the creative voices that are defining Miami’s artistic narrative. Not limited to performing artists, the class includes visual artists with limited previous performance experience.

“I enjoy the diversity,” says Israel, who, when not teaching the Lab, has been developing a new theater piece, The Spinning Wheel, which premieres in London this November. “Having a class full of artists with such a broad range of disciplines and experiences removes any preconceived notions; there’s a freedom here. Everyone is willing to take chances, because it’s all slightly out of their comfort zone.”

One such artist stepping out of her comfort zone for this program is Miami-based dancer/choreographer Ivonne Batanero, who agrees. “From day one, I knew this was going to be good. I have taken many workshops and many times I find myself only learning a couple of new things; but in this program, I have been learning so much about so many other aspects of performance and theater that my experience has been one of the best ever.

“This was an opportunity to explore and find out if I have it in me to be able to create something like a one-woman show, a way to see what it felt like to be Ivonne the poet, spoken word artist and one-woman theater performer. Everything I learn is only going to enrich my work as a performer, dancer and choreographer.”

This year’s Live Arts Lab culminates with a free work-in-progress showing on Thursday, Aug. 28. All of the class participants -- including Israel -- will present work in an evening that will include samples of the solo performances they have been developing during the four-week intensive, as well as a bit of group imrov.

In addition to their annual summer Lab, MDC Live Arts plans to offer mini-labs during their performance season. For the 2014-2015 season, they are planning to offer two programs, a Wordpress workshop on Sept. 20, which will allow artists to learn about the popular blogging system and how they can utilize it for their own Websites and creative enterprises, and a week-long workshop on concepts of devised theater with the Texas-based theater company, Rude Mechanicals, in February 2015.

MDC Live presents Live Arts Lab Open Studio with Baba Israel, 6:00 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28; Prometeo Theater, MDC Wolfson Campus, downtown; 300 N.E. 2nd Ave., Miami. For more information, 305-237-3010, or www.mdclivearts.org.

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