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, ..
In HOST, the latest project by Pioneer Winter and Jared Sharon, two separate performances occurred. A simple, bare Styrofoam wall was constructed right down the middle of the stage in parallel to the audience. On any given night, audiences could see only one of the performances based on where they were sitting. The other was out of sight, visible only to the other half of the audience.
For its apparent simplicity, the wall created some rich dynamics. Most importantly, sound travelled easily across the wall even though sight was restricted. The result was a partial awareness of the other side, often a seemingly forbidden form of participation, like an audio voyeurism. Conceptually, the wall evoked a seedy motel or some other hook-up spot where sexuality can barely be kept private.
Vocalizations and audible strikes with each others’ bodies or the floor were built into the choreography. Nobody spoke, exactly, but they grunted, sang, clicked, among other amorphous communications. In many cases, the effect was some expression of manipulation, violence, or sexual ecstasy. Sometimes the meanings of the sounds were confused or mixed, depending on where one was sitting and what visual information was available. What sounds like orgasm from one side of the wall might be seen actually as a form of agony, with the performer writhing in isolation on the floor. Such play with perception and meaning was clearly deliberate.
The characters in HOST were fairly simplified “types” set in opposition or dynamic relationship to each other. On one side was a dominant/submissive pair, almost a caricature of manipulation and control. On the other side was a trio, including an insatiably affectionate pleasure seeker plus two others who connected and separated in various combinations. In this case, with an all-male cast, homosexuality was front and center. The sexual nature of the characters was foregrounded, as in much of Winter and Sharon’s work.
Overall the wall and its divisions metaphorically stood for separation between internal/external selves, private/public acts, and self/other. HOST implies that from any one position, literally or figuratively, it is almost impossible to know what lies outside or beyond.
Perhaps the most engaging aspect of HOST was the performers’ often unconventional physicality and the way each embodied movement. Dario Gonzales, the insatiable character on the trio side of the wall, is starkly thin. When he was stripped almost bare at the end of the show, he looked hungry and impoverished in all senses. On the duo side of the wall, Alberto Pena Jr. was the controlled. His dance training was evident in beautiful leaps and poses, but his slightly heavier body suggested a sense of insecurity or weakness that was exploited by the dominant character played by Winter. While neither Gonzales or Pena Jr. would appear oddly proportioned on the street, the dance stage is a place where nearly perfect bodies are more the norm (for better or worse). Winter used this to his advantage.
The performers physical eccentricities were paired with focused types of movement and vocalization to fully articulate each character type with some depth. Further, the movement did not feel artificial or forced, but rather as though each performer had internalized his character and was acting and moving from inside his role.
This may well be a product of the creative process Winter used to create HOST. He has said recently that he prefers not to use mimicry with dancers repeating set sequences. Instead, he has chosen to work more improvisationally, giving the performers loose instructions or physical challenges and allowing them to choose what that might look like. In the final product, each character has a way of moving that seems to belong only to him. Yet a high level of choreographic vision is evident in the way that all five characters, in the duo and trio, were integrated into a whole.
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