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..
Celebrated Zimbabwe-born, Brooklyn-based dancer/choreographer Nora Chipaumire returns to Miami for a third time with her latest work, Portrait of Myself as My
Presented this week by MDC Live Arts and Miami Light Project at The Light Box at Goldman’s Warehouse, Chipaumire veers from her study of African
female identity to explore masculinity in a piece that started as a letter to the father she never knew, one lost to divorce when she was 5, and
to death when she was 13.
“I was interested in how I could create the kind of father that I would have liked to have,” Chipaumire says. “He’d be a superhero who’d be super cool: cooler than Shaft, cooler than Isaac Hayes, cooler than Muhammad Ali, a combination of all the heroes that I believe in, the African James Bond. I tried to create a portrait of my father that was a combination of virtuosic men.”
Chipaumire began studying masculinity through sport, and ended up focusing on the notion of boxing as a metaphor. Throughout the show, she performs tethered toSenegalese dancer Pape Ibrahima Ndiaye. Together, the pair prowl the stage-cum-boxing ring, the delineation between playing space and audiences marked by ropes and lights. A third performer, Shamar Watt, dressed in both coattails and athletic wear, shadows the pair. Chipamuire’s supple frame is bulked up thanks to football pads, and hidden beneath low slung, baggy pants, which stand in contrast to the briefs that adorn Ndiaye, his body and masculinity on full display.
To understand the physical manifestation of masculinity, she spent time watching the way men moved during residencies in Senegal and the Ivory Coast. “I was collecting a database of how these young men were getting down with their bodies, and the precision they moved with. I realized there is a very specific way that men are dancing – it’s very urban, fresh and full of virtuosity, and braggadocio in the face of so many difficulties, and I was trying to embody that, and do it my way,” she explains.
“It became more about the psychological placement, and placement of sounds in my body, how I operate in the world.”
Not just a study of gender, the piece also explores the dichotomy between blackness and Africanness. “Black and African are two separate ideas that I constantly work with, and wanted to understand better how they differ and the ways they intersect. I’m Black, but I’m also African,” says Chipaumire. “Black American men are much more overt, the stereotypical mans’ man, the swag that’s in your face. The African man is less so, it’s much more sexy and elegant, but nonetheless there is a great deal of machismo that runs through both of them -- but the African tends to couch it a bit, hidden under cultural norms.”
Exploring blackness, especially male blackness, is a particularly potent message in the United States, both historically and presently. While not a part of Chipaumire’s original, more personal motivation for the piece, she’s happy to add to the ongoing dialogue of race.
As she recalls with solemnity, “As I started working on this, Trayvon Martin was killed, and all these other black male shootings started to become an ongoing thing. And now, with Black Lives Matter, it has become part of our daily vocabulary; we have come so far in a short time with the conversation of black males – it’s intense, and I’m very happy to be a part of a conversation that is very necessary and that is difficult.
“There is a responsibility to family,” she adds, “and that’s the African part of me. You are raised in this community that is a family, and there are responsibilities to it, and from them to you, so I’m trying to overlay the landscape of family when I’m in that boxing ring.”
MDC Live Arts and Miami Light Project present Nora Chipaumire ‘Portrait Of Myself As My
Father’, 8:00p.m., October 14-15, The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th St., Miami Tickets: $30, $10 for MDC students mdclivearts.org.
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