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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..

The songs are familiar; the love story is also familiar but made fresh in “On Your Feet!,” the musical biography that comes to Miami this week. The narrative of Emilio and Gloria Estefan meet..

Bang for the Train, and for Public Transportation

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Local musician Juraj Kojs has been making noise all around Miami. His latest project, Bang for the Train, is a musical campaign designed to highlight the local public transportation system. Kojs found that Miami’s system was inefficient to say the least, despite a strong personal commitment to travelling only by bus and train. After spending over three hours a day to commute just a short distance, he had to depend more on his car.

Public transportation, he says, is a vital place of human exchange where people sit together instead of being separated into individual and isolated “metal boxes” on the road.

Bang for the Train is a populist summoning for policy change, set to appear at various locations around town. The project debuted at Miami Light Project’s Here & Now showcase in May. Known for his experimental approach to instrumentation, Slovakian native and co-founder of the Foundation for Emerging Technologies and Arts (FETA), Kojs made some field recordings of Miami trains and scored them as music. He added an adaptation of an old railroad standard, Wabash Cannonball.

For the opening appearance, Kojs’s percussionist team played empty water bottles, plastic tubes and other objects he calls “beaters,” and moved in procession through the Miami Light theater space and eventually out into the street. While the composition was structured around Kojs’s unconventional score as played by musical performers, the audience was given beaters and encouraged to make sounds by banging on metal bars, dumpsters, signposts, whatever.

This past weekend, Bang for the Train made a second appearance, presented as part of Edge Zone’s Miami Performance International Festival. The venue, Miami Beach Botanical Garden, was decidedly less urban than Miami Light Project’s Wynwood warehouse. But between the exotic palms and groomed grass there were plenty of walls and tables and metal things to bang on.

Again, Kojs repurposed plastic waste as instruments. Here, the percussionists used the flimsy plastic pots that usually end up in the trash after a day of planting. Each musician started with a mini drum kit of overturned pots on the floor. When they stood up and started moving through the garden, they played on whatever surface was available, shouting the word “train” and calling out names of metro stops: “Brickell, City Center, Allapattah….”

The audience was supplied with plastic pots and paint sticks wrapped with duct tape. Although the audience at the botanical garden was not large enough to make a big ruckus, the intention was clear and the message was delivered.

In both its activist bent and its musical creativity, Bang for the Train is accessible and satisfying. The sound generated from the homemade instruments is more subtle and sonically appealing than expected. And the piece successfully engages the public, not just within each performance but also through repetition in different parts of the city.

By extending the project to multiple locations, Kojs connects different neighborhoods, mirroring the kind of location-linking that happens with a train network. Momentary communities are formed at each event, and maybe, some interest in political action is sparked.

While future plans for Bang on the Train are still in the works, Kojs hopes to bring the project into more public zones. He is currently in conversation with local transit and urban planning organizations including Miami-Dade Transportation & Public Works and Miami-Dade Transportation Enhancements to extend the project and bring greater awareness to his cause.

Stay tuned for more departure times; http://www.kojs.net/

An extended version of this story runs in MIami New Times.


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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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