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..
Even before the election that transformed billionaire reality TV star Donald J. Trump into the 45th president of the United States, playwright Robert Schenkkan was so disturbed by the candidate’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that he decided to respond. Not with a Tweet. Not with an opinion-page essay. The Pulitzer Prize winner spoke back to candidate Trump with a full-length play. “Building..
“Baño de Luna,” written and directed by Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and presented by Arca Images and the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, marks the debut of the Spanish-language version of “Bathing in Moonlight,” the original English production that debuted at the prestigious McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., in 2016. Performed by a stellar cast in Spanish..
Rafael Nofal’s play “El tiempo de la mandarinas” (“Season for Tangerines”) tackles the very relevant and disturbing theme of human trafficking. Produced by Antiheroes Project, this moving play is in its last week at Artefactus Teatro, a well-purposed black box and gallery space in a smattering of warehouses in Kendall. Nofal’s text removes overt violence and male characters fr..
Joshua Harmon’s savagely funny “Bad Jews” is an emotional cage match set in a pricey Manhattan studio apartment. The combatants are Daphna Feygenbaum (Hannah Benitez), a soon-to-be Vassar grad who plans to move to Israel, marry a man no one in the family has met and become a rabbi, and her cousin Liam Haber (Joseph Paul Pino), a master’s degree candidate and atheist who intends to..
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 50th anniversary calls for gold in celebration. But Balanchine’s “Jewels”—a sublime marriage of music and choreography from 1967—brings Emeralds, Rubies,and Diamonds. Those pre..
When the Limon Dance Company returns to Miami-Dade this weekend, it brings with it the powerful vision of founder José Limon. He was a man deeply concerned about and connected to the humanity..
When Cardi B, with her trademark no-filter attitude, raps in her recent hit “Bodak Yellow” – Now I don’t got to dance/I make money move – she has something to sing about, with her smash hit N..
Despite a packed show schedule, including performing with the Frankfurt Opera in “Rinaldo,” Sarasota native, dancer and choreographer James McGinn had a chance to discuss the upcoming dance-opera ..
Anniversaries usually celebrate the success of a partnership with symbolic gifts of crystal, china, silver and gold. For the Arts Ballet Theater of Florida, the company celebrates 20 years of..
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..
Dance lovers in Miami know that for the past two decades the International Ballet Festival of Miami (IBFM) has made the city in September a magnet for the brightest stars in the world of bal..
Orlando Taquechel, dance critic for two decades at the El Nuevo Herald (and now a contributor to Artburst), will have a book signing and discussion of his new book, “La danza in Miami (1998-..
The name Flamenco conjures the machine-gun snap of heels, arms arched overhead, the flick of red fabric and laser-like glares from beneath the starched black brim of a Cordobes hat. At the ed..
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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