While we’re the first to tell you that Miami’s cultural boom is currently, well, booming, there are still a few niche artistic communities whose talents aren’t as well known around town as others. Theater, one of the oldest forms of creative expression on stage, is one of them. Some might consider it an art form of the past, but if today’s creative climate has taught us something, it’s that with just the right amount of foresight, everything can be reinvented and made exciting again. Check out some of the loudest thespians around town in case you’re longing for a theatrical night:
For decades, Miami’s Southern quadrant was in a cultural drought, with performing arts centers being over an hour away and movie theaters looking mighty fine as the only access to entertainment. When the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center (SMDCAC) opened nearly a decade ago, they brought with them a whole world of possibility and namely, internationally-known theatrical productions. Namely, their partnership with Broadway brings world-class productions to their main stage like The Color Purple next March, among many other stage performances throughout the year.
Photo: RENT at SMDCAC
For those of us who might feel a wee bit intimidated by the colossal nature of the Arsht Center, we can relish the fact that within the performing arts compound there lay multiple stages to catch a show. Namely, their innovative black box theater, Zoetic Stage. Specializing in unique and refreshing interpretations of modern plays and musicals, you’ll find some of the most celebrated works in recent times sharing the calendar with regional premieres and new works by local artists. It’s a great start to get your foot through the door if you’re looking to get into theater, without the flashy velvet ropes that usually come along with it.
Photo: “The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Nighttime” at Zoetic Stage
As proven above, Miami’s theater scene doesn’t just stop at the city’s center. In fact, there are great places to access the performing art all around town. In Little Haiti, Villain Theater has been holding down the improv and local theater scene for several years. They offer classes and workshops throughout the week in case you yourself want to get into the art form. But more than that, their weekly shows put local actors and writers at the forefront, and have generated a serious fan base along the way. Say for example, their Saturday Gigantic shows which feature a blend of Magic City-centric stories, plus an entirely improvised musical on the spot.
Photo: Villain Theater
The non-profit organization currently stirring things up on the Beach, Miami New Drama, deserves every bit of your undivided attention. Their program focuses on works by national and international artists whose stories fit perfectly with Miami’s bizarre, multi-cultural persona. They’ve made the historical Colony Theatre their home, proudly managing the 1935 cinema-turned-theater, and filling its calendar with some of the most creative and colorful performances in town. They’ve had many “firsts” on that stage, and world premieres tend to be a pattern there–so you can boast about seeing a play before anyone else.
Photo: Colony Theatre
Finally, in order to adapt to changing times (and shorter attention spans) we have to make these essential arts more interactive so they can break through to more audiences. That’s where Juggerknot Theatre Company shines. They revolutionized Miami’s theater scene when they took over a historic hotel in Little Havana for Miami Motel Stories, and the rest as they say, was history. They specialize in spotlighting the soul and spirit of each of Miami’s vibrant neighborhoods by recreating the stories of those characters who have helped shaped their identities, no matter how small. Each room becomes a stage and every person in attendance plays a role in the story unfolding before your eyes. Since then, they’ve popped up in MiMo, Wynwood, and even the PAMM since their essence includes all of Miami and doesn’t need four walls and a stage to come to life.
Photo: Miami Motel Stories at PAMM
Cover photo by Miami New Drama.