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 ..
Imagine animation created live on stage, with mini backdrops, puppets, and low-tech props. Channel it through multiple cameras and mix it live into a projected film. Add a string quartet and a DJ. This is the structure of “Nufonia Must Fall,” an upcoming project presented by MDC Live Arts. The show is slated for appearances around the world, from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and..
That Actors’ Playhouse opened its production of Robert Schenkkan’s “All the Way” on the same day that the American Health Care Act was pulled from a vote by the House of Representatives is ironic and more than a little instructive. The much-touted replacement for Obamacare didn’t have enough sure votes to ensure passage, as Speaker Paul Ryan told President Donald Trump, so the “replac..
The take-no-prisoners world of high finance and ruthless business deals has long been a tantalizing subject for artists. From filmmaker Oliver Stone’s 1987 “Wall Street,” with its antihero Gordon Gekko spouting “greed is good,” to Damien Lewis’ slick hedge fund mogul Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series “Billions,” movies and television allow those of us in the 99 percent a glimpse at wha..
One could say that Bistoury’s 305 & Havana International Improv Fest, which debuts this Saturday at Miami Theater Center, has been in the works for almost 20 years. In 1999 Cuban-born cho..
The process of creating “Shade,” choreographer Augusto Soledade’s latest full-length work, has been one of remembering and reconfiguring memory to discover new ways of talking about identity ..
Upcoming this week, Tigertail presents choreographer Myriam Gourfink and musician Kasper Toeplitz. Hailing from France, the two will be present for a 3-day residency at Subtropics’ South Beac..
From her home base at 6th Street Dance Studio in Little Havana, longtime Miami dance figure Brigid Baker has been slowly crafting a new performance piece. It’s not conceptual or political like con..
Karen Peterson is the artistic director of Karen Peterson and Dancers, a company that brings professional dancers with and without disabilities together in the same piece of choreography, and..
Revivals are hot on Broadway these days with “CATS”and “Hello, Dolly!“once again gracing the Great White Way. There is a certain nostalgia in taking a second or even third viewing of a belove..
What happens when urban dance style meets classical music? We’ll find out when Brooklyn-based hip-hop dance troupe Decadancetheater takes the stage, backed by Miami’s own experimental classic..
“What does it mean to belong? What does it mean to not want to belong?” These are questions that choreographer Reggie Wilson contemplates in his provocative piece “CITIZEN,“ which makes its M..
If even a modicum of redemption can be forged from the hellish after-effects of gun violence, we must listen to the communities most affected by the violence. To this end, “Trigger,” a hip-ho..
If the political movement that saw its birth after the November elections is in the market for a composer to set the score for its many marches, Frederic Rzewski might be a strong contender for the role. Rzewski, who makes a rare South Florida appearance Saturday at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium to open Tigertail Productions' month-long dance and music festival "Fire," is the real deal. With a lifetime of progressive causes infused in his music, the 78-year-old contemporary pianist has the requisite experience for a concert entitled "Music of Resistance." And age has not dampened his passionate commitment to art as an agent for social change.
Other "Fire" events include "Fire Gods in the Garden," with site-specific dance pieces by Marissa Alma Nick, Carla Forte, Hattie Mae Williams and Pioneer Winter, on April 12 at the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens; and New York-based Reggie Wilson and his Fist and Heel Performance Group in "Citizen," April 21 to 22 at Miami-Dade County Auditorium.
Rzewski developed both his political beliefs and his musical talent at an early age. Born in Massachusetts of Polish stock during the waning days of the Great Depression, both of his decidedly apolitical parents were pharmacists who could send him to piano classes at the age of five. His left-leaning piano teacher, Charles Mackey, “used to mix politics in the music,” Rzewski said in a phone interview. “Everybody knew he was supposed to be ‘Red,’ but he was also the best piano teacher.”
This was during the beginning of the McCarthy era. “He taught me all kinds of things, and these were not the kinds of things that good American boys were supposed to know about," Rzewski said. "It didn’t take long before I acquired the nickname in seventh grade of ‘comrade.’”
Centuries of worldwide political rebellion appear in Rzewski’s work. A song from Ireland’s Easter Rising of 1916, a melody invoking 1938’s Kristallnacht (the night when violent Nazi persecution of the Jews was unleashed), an anthem from the U.S. Civil Rights Movement—all took on a symbolic value in Rzewski's hands, often different from their composers’ original intent. Rzewski latches on to a popular melody, then revisits, reworks and revives it for audiences who may never have known the original but who can now feel its incantatory pull.
Included on Saturday’s program will be the most famous of these pieces, “The People United Will Never Be Defeated.” The composition is a nearly hour-long exploration of the seemingly limitless possibilities of a fragment of melody that is beautiful, infectious and replete with real-world drama. It is Rzewski’s 1975 answer to the CIA-aided Chilean military coup that saw the overthrow and death of a democratically-elected president, Salvador Allende, and the installation of General Augusto Pinochet, setting off a Latin American reign of terror. Riffing on Sergio Ortega’s emblematic protest song, “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido," Rzewski works and reworks a single melodic line, each time finding a different tone or detail to emphasize. The voices are disparate, but each expresses the same overarching, inspiring idea, much as a group of individuals in the market for a successful revolution must.
Rzewski began writing "The People United" as a response to the disinformation in America regarding the events in Chile. It was, ironically enough, a commission for classic pianist Ursula Oppens to perform in the Kennedy Center as part of the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. Our independence, thought Rzewski, “was about a small country… asserting its right to independence against a large country, which was Britain. Now, 200 years later, the roles are reversed.”
Rzewski will also play a much newer, politically charged work, 2016's “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around (Songs of Insurrection No. 3).” His interpretation of the iconic freedom song will surely differ from the one NAACP leaders sang at a sit-in at then Attorney General nominee Jeff Session’s office in January, but the feeling is no doubt the same.
Not all of Rzewski’s work is focused on politics; he's also known simply for making good music. His performances are feats of stamina. He plays with hurricane force, with dangerously fast passages that race down the keyboard, reminding listeners that the piano is indeed a percussion instrument. Technique is essential, and Rzewski admits to purposefully making his compositions difficult in order to weed out lousy would-be performers. Pianists not up to snuff, he says, won’t go near his work.
“There are no bad performances,” he comments wryly. “Music comes first. Whether it’s a baseball cheering song or whatever, the only reason that it catches on is because it’s good music.”
Frederic Rzewski “Music of Resistance,” Fire festival, Miami-Dade County Auditorium On.Stage Black Box, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami; 8:30 p.m. Saturday; $35; tigertail.org.
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