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..
Desperate times call for desperate measures. For some, that might mean taking a second or third job. Or robbing a bank. Or moving in with family. For Casey, a straight lip-syncing Elvis impersonator in a Panama City bar, desperation means forsaking the King’s rhinestone-studded jumpsuit for leg hair-hiding pantyhose, fake boobs and big-hair wigs, the better to sell himself as a fa..
Writing about “Broken Snow,” the Ben Andron thriller now getting its world premiere at the J’s Cultural Arts Theatre (JCAT) in North Miami Beach, is a proposition almost as tricky as the play itself. The intricately structured 90-minute drama is loaded with surprises, twists and turns, all revealed at precisely the right moment so that the play builds to its shattering conclusion..
As this steamy spring melts into a sweltering summer, Actors’ Playhouse is inviting theater lovers to a wedding – a big, fat Jewish-WASP wedding, otherwise known as the Broadway musical “It Shoulda Been You.” Though the show seemingly takes place in the present, the piece by book writer-lyricist Brian Hargrove and composer Barbara Anselmi is an old-fashioned, stereotype-filled throwba..
'Death & Harry Houdini' Makes Another Magical Moment at ArshtDennis Watkins knows how to make an entrance. In the House Theatre of Chicago’s “Death & Harry Houdini,” now back at the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater five years after it first wowed Miami audiences, Watkins arrives onstage with the help of theater technology unknown in Houdini’s day. Dangling upside dow..
With a heightened emphasis on “Noise” as an innovative musical genre, this sixth installment of the Miami Performance Festival International (M/P’17), running June 23 to 25, challenges South Floridians to a riot of styles and mediums that should intrigue, offend, astonish, and titillate audiences.
In her Allapattah gallery’s office, a week before opening night, founding director Charo Oquet balances eagerness, stoicism, and anxiety, as she reviews her checklist and welcomes artists.
Friday and Saturday schedules of live sound, video, and performance will commandeer Edge Zones’ in-and-outdoor gallery spaces, which accommodate extravagant, messy installation and edgy, loud, late night sonic adventures. Last year, in a cathartic “ritual,” artist J. Jiménez smashed plates against the walls – each carrying a prayer or grievance. “Performance” in this context is different from a concert or movie-going experience. There’s often an element of confrontation. It’s communication, not entertainment, suggests Oquet. “It can be entertaining, but that’s not its purpose.”
On Sunday afternoon, Miami Beach Botanical Garden ideally suits varied forms of dance, experimental sound, procession, and hide-and-seek among luxuriant plantings. Its lush turf is perfect for ground-based movement (as when Jessica Hirst rolled across a sea of raw eggs).
Oquet’s own artistic career of installation and performance spans 30 years, grounding her role as impresario in practical experience. So has motherhood, she jokes!
“One thing about performance art is that the artist is present,” she says, “and this is one of the reasons I got into performance art [and] staging festivals. It's not just about the art, it's about the artist.” Tolerance for nudity and personal issues of body image, gender identity, and politics are hallmarks of the performance community and essential to Oquet’s mission. So are mutual support and mentoring.
Oquet’s call for proposals is international, and she has hosted artists from around the globe. Her own roots are in the Dominican Republic, where she has repeatedly performed and generated cultural exchanges. She emphasizes a post-colonial New World vision, which privileges the Caribbean, Central and South America. “We are trying to find out who we are away from the ways of Europe, away from what they think we should be,” she says.
Regional representation is equally vital – both for cultivating talent and generating audience. Locals bring their friends, who are then exposed to practitioners from outside. This year, artists are arriving from Cuba, Chile, Canada, Germany and the Dominican Republic. Two young musicians, active in the D.R.’s experimental scene, are benefiting from a Miami residency – making contacts and learning the administrative side of festival production.
Mainstream arts producers, who are generally risk averse, tend to shun performance, which Oquet calls the art of uncertainty. "You have to find a balance,” she continues. “You want them [the performers] to be a great artist, but not set fire to the place.”
To mitigate risk, she advises the artists, "You've got to tell me exactly what you're doing. I want no surprises."
But as a performer, she understands the flip side. "You might have a sketch of what you plan to do, but a lot of it changes as you go live." Sometimes inspiration shifts upon viewing the setting for an installation, which then calls for brighter color, larger elements. Or, audience response may push the performance in an unanticipated direction.
The International Noise Conference (INC), whose regional “guru” is Frank Falestra (aka Rat Bastard), was Oquet’s entree into the Noise genre, and Falestra is Friday’s “Noise Night” curator. And a prized performer. Churchill’s is the INC’s regional headquarters, and Falestra has invited several artists from their roster.
Guitarist Bill Orcutt grew up in Miami, then moved to California. He may go acoustic or electric and switch from extended drones to jittery, a-rhythmic melodic runs and clattering stops. Pocket of Lollipops, a poetic, pop punk band and visual artist David Brieske (aka Fsik Huvnx), who mixes bowed guitar and electronics, are among the Miami-based Churchill’s regulars. Muu Blanco, Pip and Duane Brant, Sarah Valdez, Maria Therese Barbist, and Pia Toribia – will join other visual/performance cross-over artists.
From Chile, Gustavo Solar brings NSFW aesthetics that may thrill some and disgust others. This is characteristic of prior festivals, which have included confessional storytelling, intrusive body contact, fire-dancing, studding an apple with pins, and dripping water “torture” – but also cake eating.
Returning to her list, Oquet extends a welcome: “If you are looking for something to make you question how you think about art and music… this is the place to come.”
Miami Performance International Festival runs Friday-Saturday evenings at Edge Zones Art Gallery, 3317 NW 7th Ave. Circle; and Sunday at Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach. For a complete schedule of performances, times and locations see go to
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