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..
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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..
Miami-based choreographer Pioneer Winter and visual artist Jared Sharon have invited us all to a “crazy space pirate Mean Girls and an operatic cyborg-like ship mixed with film projection, contemporary dance and extreme beauty regimens.” This new project, Sirens in Space, premiers on Thursday at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium’s versatile On.Stage Blackbox Theater. And If Winter and Sharon’s past work is any indication, Sirens in Space will be one of the more creative projects of Miami’s spring performance season.
Winter made his first mark as a choreographer on the Miami dance scene with a project titled Phallusy in 2011 at the Arsht Center’s Miami Made group show. Later that year, his first collaboration with Sharon, 42: A Stonewall Prospective, was presented to great acclaim at the Bass Museum. For these two collectively and individually, the last few years have yielded much: a dance school and performance space named Miami Dance Studio/ RIFT blackbox theater, further creative genre-bending performance work, and a series of outreach efforts including the site-specific performance initiative Grass Stains. Of particular interest and impact for the Miami community, Grass Stains is an opportunity for local artists to explore the possibilities of site-specific work with the support of significant funding and the creative guidance of a mentor.
Now, back to Winter and Sharon’s current performance collaboration, Sirens in Space. While the details of the project are still largely a guarded secret, Winter and Sharon offered some hints about their ideas and creative processes. For starters, they promise, it isn’t very cerebral. “There’s no overt social message, we wanted to have some fun.” And the underlying theme, when they are asked to state it, is dating. They describe Sirens in Space as “an outsider’s view of a dynamic of contemporary women.” The main characters aren’t exactly women, they are female aliens being guided through space by a consciousness they call “the Positronic Brain.”
The storyline is meant to operate beyond gender or sexual orientation. This distinction seems important to both artists. They often layer some form of “queering” into their work as a way to sidestep binary and hetero-normative categories, or as Sharon alternately describes it, “not having strict parameters imposed on anything.” In the case of the aliens in Sirens in Space, “that needing, searching for something is a very human trait.”
The creative dynamic between Sharon and Winter seems to be animated by a gap between their separate perspectives. Sharon was raised in an environment of traditional art, and he now describes his practice alternately as transmedia, or multi-platform storytelling. The idea is to allow the audience to receive the message in multiple forms simultaneously.
In a transmedia work, he says, there is a marriage between media, so no boundaries are drawn between different types of media that make up the work. “We’ve all exhausted each individual medium.” And, he says, “there’s no real reason to stay within those boundaries… it’s just not the way I think.”
Conversely, Winter -- coming primarily to the project as a dancer and choreographer -- finds the boundaries of his form to be productive for creativity. “I don’t think I’ve exhausted the possibilities,” he says. “Restriction births something interesting; when there are too many options, it’s not legible anymore.”
While they certainly seem to respect each other creatively, they are not necessarily coming at Sirens in Space from the same angle. There is a syncopated rhythm between them. This is no doubt a generating force, and the blend of media produces necessities that might not be present with either artist working alone. Structurally, for example, Sirens in Space has largely been determined by the length of the musical score (48 minutes long).
“That’s the complete opposite of what a choreographer does, but storyline-wise, the music is important,” says Winter. Sharon interjects, “in some ways, a visual artist is a wrench in the system.” But, he continues, “we level each other out.”
Together, Winter and Sharon are following a highly improvisational creative process whose product has yet to be revealed. Most likely, Sirens in Space will be in the works right up until show time.
Sirens in Space from Pioneer Winter and Jared Sharon, Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at the Miami Dade County Auditorium On.Stage Black Box Theater,2901 W. Flagler St.,Miami. General admission $20, discounted tickets for students, senior and groups $15.
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