If you haven’t experience a Miami Motel Stories pop-up performance around town yet, we can’t express how much you are missing. While Juggerknot Theatre’s immersive projects have taken multiple Miami neighborhoods by storm, it’s their ability to completely transform a space that leaves you truly impressed. The experiential theater performances have taken place in derelict motels throughout Miami and, with such a powerful attention to detail, they somehow make it seem as if these places have always looked and felt the way they do. Or, that the performance itself serves as a time capsule for the stories of the specific neighborhood they take place in.
When you step inside a Miami Motel Stories show, it’s instantly impressive based on the production alone, and for many people it might come as a surprise that the main minds and hands behind the physical transformation are all women. Hot on the heels of International Women’s Day, we want to spotlight the amount of creativity, time, and energy it takes to bring such a production to life–an undertaking we think only a group of inspiring, connected, and collaborative women can truly see through.
Starting from the top, the entire Miami Motel Stories dream started with the brilliant sister producer duo, Tanya and Natasha Bravo. Their relationships with local business owners and developers with buildings in transition around Miami led them to finding the perfect locations to put on these performances–salvaging spaces one last time before their lost to the city forever. “It is the perfect opportunity for us as artists to step in and tell the story of the neighborhood while it is transitioning into something else in real-time” says Tanya Bravo. Before The Wynwood Yard closed, Miami Motel Stories was there and before Ocean Terrace Motel closes, they’re currently giving it its last breath in North Beach until the end of March.
Once the North Beach location was selected for example, directors Tai Thompsan and Ana Margineanu work with Playwright Juan Sanchez to dive deep into the history of the neighborhood and bring its past forward by focusing on key characters and themes relevant to the area. Then, the rest of the team is assembled. From Company Manager and Production Stage Manager Michelle Lavergne, Lighting Designer Anamaria Morales, Sound Design by Sarah Vingerhoedt, Set Design by Li Milian, and Lee Harrison as Costume Designer. The stories are now in their hands. What comes next is pure magic.
While the Miami Motel Stories performances themselves feel as if they’ve popped up over night and out of nowhere, the reality is that the overall build takes about two months. First, they get the building ready with AC units, plumbing, infrastructure, and fire safety so that the actors and designers can then operate safely and comfortably. Then come the production office and greenrooms. A slew of mood boards, pattern choices, and color palettes are approved by the directors and the set design team comes in to work on each individual room.
But the build doesn’t happen with this strong team alone. For each Miami Motel Stories performance, they’ve worked with partners local to the city. For North Beach’s show, they brought in Don Bailey Flooring, The Vagabond Group, and furniture from Jalan Jalan and The Salvation Army. At this point, the lighting team and the costume team will work closely together to create moods and coordinate colors for each scene. Once the sets are done, the theatrical part begins with tech for sound and lights, rehearsals, and boom: the show has come to life.
“By approaching the project with sensitivity, inspiration and research,” says Lighting Designer, Anamaria Morales, they’re able to follow through with a bonded vision. The inspiring thing about this is just how collaborative each team and department are with each other, all in an effort to create a cohesive and connected product. “We sit together often running our ideas, playing off each other’s minds, and finding ways to mesh it all together” said Lee Harrison, Costume Designer, “We are constantly making adjustments In order to let the scene flow. So many details to consider together.”
This meticulous and intricate process is, at the end of the day, all in an effort to not only pay homage to the history of the neighborhood, but to give the spectator a viscerally-charged experience. “In this house we merge all the concepts of space,” says Morales, “with the main focus being the spectator entering a time capsule.”
Enter that time capsule while you still can by purchasing tickets here. Use code “PrismMotelStories15” at checkout for 15% off!
Photos courtesy of Juggerknot Theatre.