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..
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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