MEET THE ARTBURST WRITERS: CHRISTINE DOLEN
Following a 40-year career at the Miami Herald, Christine Dolen, the daily newspaper’s now retired theater critic has found a new home at Artburst Miami. As the arts media bureau has launched its theater section, gaining her insight and knowledge of South Florida theater is an incredible asset. The feeling we found out, is mutual.
“I’m thrilled to be writing for Artburst … for which I’m tremendously grateful,” said Dolen. “Writing about theater has been my passion for most of my adult life so I appreciate that Artburst is providing a new platform and another model for getting arts writing and criticism to media outlets and to readers who care about the arts.”
Upon her departure from the Herald she welcomed joining the Artburst team, something she says allows her to remain in the conversation about theater in South Florida — “to follow the show-by-show evolution of multiple companies and to report on the developments that shape theater in the region,” said Dolen.
She has seen that evolution firsthand, noting that theater in Miami today is very different to theater that existed when she first became the Herald theater critic. Those were the days when the Coconut Grove Playhouse was the area’s major regional theater, “a 20-year-old company that had evolved from where Samuel Beckett’s mysterious Waiting for Godot had its U.S. debut to a commercial theater built around star headliners to a regional theater tackling challenging plays,” she said.
That was also when Ruth Foreman ran one of the few small companies here and Zev Buffman brought touring Broadway shoes to the Jackie Gleason Theater.
Now, we’ve got the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts showcasing touring Broadway shows and serving as home to Zoetic Stage, which presents eclectic material; the House Theatre of Chicago; and festivals like City Theatre’s Summer Shorts and the International Hispanic Festival.
That is not all: “Theater in Miami is diverse, abundant and growing,” she said. There’s also Actors’ Playhouse at the restored Miracle Theatre, featuring large-scale musicals and comedies; and in Coral Gables, GableStage at the Biltmore Hotel. New Theatre has a new home at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, focusing on both new work and classics.
The list continues with Miami Theater Center, which reinterprets classic plays, stages new works, and whose SandBox space is now home to Mad Cat Theater. And the newest company, Miami New Drama, is one that “aims to create exciting theater reflective of multicultural Miami,” she said. A revival of the Coconut Grove Playhouse, abruptly closed down in 2006, is on the horizon with plans for a smaller regional theater run by GableStage in partnership with Florida International University.
“I look forward to the return of the Coconut Grove Playhouse and hope that will just be the start of that theater’s growth into a major regional theater,” she said.
She also hopes the Arsht Center will continue to cultivate its partnerships with local companies and to showcase their work.
Her goal when writing for Artburst is “to increase awareness of just how much theater – quality theater – is produced in South Florida; to make readers familiar with the companies and the range of shows they produce; and to make readers interested in theater aware of Artburst as a source for news, features, and reviews.”
The Miami Herald ran Christine Dolen’s farewell article where she reminisced on her career and her many experiences over her 40 years there: Click here to read it.