FREE THEATER: TWO MIAMI ARTISTS TAKE THEIR SOLO SHOWS TO GABLESTAGE
Brandon Urrutia, left, and Luis Roberto Herrera will perform their solo shows at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21 and Monday, Jan. 22. Admission is free.(Photo courtesy of Brandon Urrutia)
Luis Roberto Herrera and Brandon Urrutia are young, multifaceted South Florida theater artists.
At 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 21, and Monday, Jan. 22, the two will get a significant close-to-home showcase of their work when they perform their solo shows – admission is free – at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel.
Herrera is a Colombian American playwright, actor and teacher who earned his bachelor’s degree in performance from the University of Florida and a master’s in playwriting from New York’s New School. He’s also one of the current participants in the Playwright Development Program funded by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs.
Urrutia is a Cuban American graduate of Florida International University’s theater program. He’s a founder and the artistic director of LakehouseRanchDotPNG, a company specializing in new absurdist and experimental theater, which performs in the small Artistic Vibes space in a warehouse district near Kendall. As Herrera did last season, he’s developing a play as part of City Theatre’s Homegrown project.
Their GableStage pairing came about because of producing artistic director Bari Newport.
“I read both pieces last year and really appreciated the writing. I have a long history of developing and performing solo…works, and when I knew we would produce August Wilson’s ‘How I Learned What I Learned’ (in the fall of 2023), I thought we could showcase these two local artists’ solo projects too,” explains Newport in an email.
“The fact that both pieces hit out-of-town/country festival circuits also inspired our decision to find a way to feature them both locally. When the calendar…made early fall difficult, we decided to carve out time in January for GableStage Gone Solo. (I’m) looking forward to seeing them brought to life on our stage.”
Herrera’s play, “As I Eat the World,” was first performed about a year ago at New York’s Frigid Fringe Festival. He then expanded his still-evolving show with the guidance of Miami playwright Vanessa Garcia, the master playwright in City Theatre’s Homegrown program, and recently did a three-week run at The Tank in Manhattan, with additional production help from the Broadway Factor.
Rooted in autobiography, “As I Eat the World” details a young man’s struggles with his weight, body image, mental health and the machismo of his Latinx culture. The writing and Hererra’s performance are fierce, insightful, wry, heartbreaking,
“This show has changed how I look at my art, creating a space for me to be more personal and vulnerable while still creating something that can help people and change the way think about their own lives,” observes Herrera. “The show has become a part of my own recovery, while I still struggle with mental health and eating disorders, I know this show is important not only for myself, but for anyone that feels as if they are unseen.”
Urrutia has performed his play “Lo siento, mi español es tremendo mal” at Miami’s Koubek Center, the Atlanta Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It also won an award from Miami’s not-for-profit Antiheroes Project for being “As Miamense As Possible.”
It, too, is personal: a warm, funny, sorrowful lament for the way his inability to speak and understand Spanish well kept him from a deeper relationship with his late grandmother.
In his script, the playwright describes the character of Brandón (note the accent) this way: “Born in Hialeah, raised in Miami, wants to die in the Sedano’s check-out line.” His dialogue flows from flawed Spanish to English to a mixture of the languages, but his messages and observations are clear.
And yes, his Spanish is pretty much the way it is in the play.
“I had a student help me proofread the Spanish sections, along with my grandfather’s Spanish-English dictionary. It was an all hands-on-deck ordeal for me,” he notes.
WHAT: “As I Eat the World” by Luis Roberto Herrera and “Lo siento, mi español es tremendo mal” by Brandon Urrutia
WHERE: GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21, and Monday, Jan. 22
COST: Free admission; to reserve a seat, click on Secure Your Spot at https://www.gablestage.org/events/gablestage-gone-solo-an-evening-of-solo-performances-by-miamis-own-brandon-urrutia-and-luis-herrera/
INFORMATION: 305-445-1119 or www.gablestage.org.
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