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My Barbarian wanted to take Miami on a boat ride. “We wanted to interact and be out in the public,” Alex Segade reveals over the phone from Los Angeles, where he just got out of rehearsal for My Barbarian’s first Miami show, coming up this Saturday at the Miami Light Project, as part of Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design’s “Living Together” performance series this season. ..

The time seems right for Karen Finley to be visiting Miami, to be performing in the black box space of the Miami Light Project at the Goldman Warehouse, and to present her latest performance-art manifesto about the current political landscape, “Unicorn Gratitude Mystery.” In the show, which she began developing as a response to the U.S. presidential election in 2016, Finley plays a unicor..

Getting into a true holiday spirit can be tough in South Florida, where palm trees, expansive beaches and balmy skies signal perpetual summer. Ever-earlier store décor and the incessant push to buy presents – more about commercialism than celebration – can make many of us feel more anxious than festive. Not to worry. Just squeeze in a trip to Miami’s Arsht Center, where City Theatre h..

One of the centerpieces of this year’s Art Week is not a static art work, and it is also one of the most sensuous and disorienting. Lebanese performance artist Tania El Khoury is producing her “Gardens Speak” for the week, courtesy of MDC Live Arts, a piece that has been applauded in cultural capitals throughout Europe and the United States. “It is a work,” she says, “that can only co..

Since its founding in 1996, City Theatre has been an important part of South Florida’s theatrical landscape, though the company’s visibility has always been highest in the month of June. That’s when its popular Summer Shorts festival takes place; for more than a decade, its high-profile venue has been the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami’s Arsht Center. Though the company founded by S..

If you were to predict who might become a nationally famous – OK, world-famous – multiplatform sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer would probably not be your first choice. Born in Germany in 1928 as Karola Ruth Siegel, the 4’7” Dr. Ruth seems more like the doting Jewish grandmother she is than a woman who used her nationally syndicated radio show, TV shows and 40-some books to help hun..

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, ..

MDC Live Arts Unveils the Season of Ojala/Inshallah: Wishes from the Muslim World

Photo: Tania El Khoury 'Garden's Speak'
Written by: Elizabeth Hanly
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It’s a tall order to present a season as surprising as it is moving, as disturbing as it is delightful. Miami-Dade College’s Live Arts 2017-2018 season -- Ojala/Inshallah: Wishes from the Muslim World sets out to do all that.

“We talk so often about commonality and diversity in Miami,” says Kathryn Garcia, Executive Director of MDC Live Arts. “Even as our country takes up these issues, for quite a while here in Miami, we’ve been talking about migration, about inclusion and exclusion and the experience of being ‘the other.’ Even as we wrestle with all this, we may not remember just how close Hispanic roots are to Moorish culture. Live Arts wanted to take a look at that. We also hoped to shed some light on just how diverse our community actually is. .. and we wanted to recognize the thousands of Pakistani families living among us.”

MDC Live Arts officially begins its season on November 4 at the Olympia Theater with the Sachal Ensemble, better known in some circles as the Pakistani “Buena Vista Social Club.” And what a story they have.

Life wasn’t so easy for old time musicians in Lahore, the Pakistani city that is home to the group. The Taliban’s influence led to frequent assaults on musicians. Even carrying one’s instruments in the streets could bring on an attack. To make matters worse, this was a group that really liked American jazz.

It hardly felt foreign to the musicians of Sachal. Traditional Pakistani musical structures, its ragas, welcome similar improvisation. Suffice it to say, the group spent most of their time playing only for themselves behind closed doors. Then one of their number decided a post their rendition of Dave Brubeck’s classic “Take Five,” on Youtube. And everything changed.

Not incidentally, Brubeck himself called the group’s sitar-heavy “Take Five,” “the most interesting version ever.”Other American Jazz icons took note. Wynton Marsalis invited the group to play with him in the Jazz at Lincoln Center series. An award-winning documentary on the group, “Song of Lahore,” was narrated by Meryl Streep.

Guitars will mix with a sitar, Pakistani flute, and nearly a dozen tabula (small drums similar in sound to bongos) for the performance. Miami audiences will be treated not only Brubeck but Ellington, Henry Mancini and the Beatles along with a range of Pakistani chestnuts. Through it all, expect percussion as intricate as anything Afro-Caribbean rhythms have dreamed up.

From December 6 through 9, during the clamor of Miami’s Art Week, Live Arts presents a still point --- an artist whose performance pieces have been described with reverence by major newspapers. Lebanese Tania El Khoury’s work, “Gardens Speak,” is a breath-takingly intimate look at the Syrian conflict. She asks members of the audience to make their way to a defacto grave, “claw through the earth” and finally, while resting there and holding the space for one buried far away, listen to audio telling his/her story in oral history and music. El Khoury’s title alone speaks volumes. Under Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad, death has become so politicized that families often bury their lost ones in a back-yard.

“These burials are often an act of resistance,” explained El Khoury in a 2014 interview with London’s The Guardian. “Funerals in Syria often lead to more deaths: there have been incidents of the shelling of cemeteries while funerals are taking place, and in some instances before the burial can take place the families are asked to sign documents exonerating the Assad regime of their loved one’s death. The lack of liberation follows people even into death.”

Garcia cautions, “Gardens may sound like only a painful work, but my experience with it was very much the opposite. In being able to connect so deeply with another’s life, I felt empowered.”

Like each of its offerings this season, MDC’s April residency and free, all-community event challenges easy stereotypes of ‘other.’ Hip-Hoppa-Locka is not only an evening of hip-hop from an Arab and Arab-American crew, that crew is all young women. The show will be part of the womens’ two weeks of workshops in area schools.

“And what better place to have the evening than in Opa-Locka,” says Garcia. “After all Opa-Locka is the U.S. home of Moorish revival architecture.”

The season’s finale is a culmination not only of a wondrous season of performances, but of their subtext. On May 12 at the Olympia Theater the 24-piece National Arab Orchestra will perform – its members are not a multi-national group, but hail from Michigan, which has a large Arab-American population. The evening will be one of classical Arab music punctuated by the work of internationally acclaimed flamenco guitarist Jose Luis de la Paz.

In between these highlights are five more evenings that include Persian lute music, a trumpeter, an all-guy dance troupe, a collective working with Moroccan ritual/trance music and a spoken word combo of Vets and refugees.

Stereotypes, beware.

The Sachal Ensemble, Nov. 4, Olympia Theaterat 8:00 p.m. tickets: $25-$55. Tania El Khoury, Dec. 6-9, Fillmore Theater Jackie Gleason Room, performances hourly Dec. 6-9. For more information on the season and all performances, visit


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