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..
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.
Not everybody who begins a musical career at age three singing in his grandfather’s Pentecostal Church finds his way to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Soloman Howard did in two short decades...
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Just about now, even as the unsuspecting may be lounging at the beach, classical music is thundering forth in Miami. Our town’s annual eight week Miami Music Festival has begun with its offer..
Talk of weddings can quickly split a friendly gathering into camps of pro and con. Those on the pro side retell the moment when the crying six-year-old ring bearer, stunned by the attention o..
What better way to welcome summer than with a burst of live music? Leave it to the French to come up with the idea. Since 1982, they’ve marked the summer solstice with free concerts and p..
Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade is as tiny as a house sparrow, with a voice as clean and pure as a bell. These delicate qualities belie a fierce inner strength and a steely artistic will. A..
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