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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..

Director Carlos Lechuga’s masterful unspooling of time in his second feature film “Santa y Ándres” constructs a uniquely Cuban mix of tedium and despair, resulting in an emotionally intense experience that sneaks up on the viewer in plain sight. The film opens with the stillness of a landscape painting: the eastern Cuban countryside of 1983 – rugged, lush, and verdant. The statuesque..

Memory – deep-seated, fragile, slippery, mutable – is at the heart of Jordan Harrison’s “Marjorie Prime.” A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2015, the play is a family tragicomedy given a sci-fi makeover; in other words, this thought-provoking theater piece charts its own, fresh path. Now getting its South Florida premiere as the second professional production from the Main Street Players, ..

The stage is a fixed space. It is the axis around which story, conflict, and character revolve. When that fixed space shifts, new possibilities emerge. Starting Wednesday, April 23, a shifting site for theater emerges at Deering Estate, a 444-acre environmental, archeological, and historical preserve along the edge of Biscayne Bay in Palmetto Bay. Four local playwrights have collaborated ..

Nearly two years ago, Miami’s Zoetic Stage took its first trip into the world of Harold Pinter with an intense, superbly acted production of the Nobel laureate’s 1978 hit “Betrayal” in the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater. Now Zoetic is delving further back into the Pinter canon with a riveting production of “The Caretaker.” This 1960 work is, like “Betrayal,” a three-character ..

Review: The Duality and Sexuality of ‘HOST’


Photo: Pioneer Winter and Alberto Pena Jr.; photo: Mitchell Zachs.
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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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About The writer

Cathering Hollingsworth is a dance critic and dancer

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About the Writer

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