On Monday night at the Miami Science Museum, surrounded by the imposing skeletons of Chinese dinosaurs, South Florida's cultural community bid a reluctant goodby to a man who has been anything but a dinosaur during his 16 years at Miami-Dade's Department of Cultural Affairs.
Rem Cabrera is heading for Chicago to join his partner of 11 years, Christopher Schram, who became executive director of the Redmoon Theater in July. No one, including Cabrera's boss Michael Spring, quite wants to believe that the guy who created South Florida's Theatre League, the Downstage Miami playwrights' program and the Dance Miami Choreographers Fellowships is really trading sand and sunshine for all that wind and snow.
Born in Cuba in 1958, Remberto Cabrera Jr. was a preemie whose twin sister didn't make it. His hearing was severely damaged, so as he was growing up in New Jersey, then Florida, he became an excellent lip reader whose slight speech impediment is the only suggestion that his hearing isn't perfect. A voracious reader, he fell in love with theater when Miami's old Players State Theatre brought its productions to Marathon, earned a bachelor's degree in English (with a minor in photography) from Barry University, then a master's in creative writing from Florida International University.
But instead of pursuing a career as an artist, Cabrera has spent his career helping artists. He hasn't just encouraged uncounted playwrights, dancers, actors, choreographers, painters, directors, sculptors but has helped to sustain their work through the many grant programs he administered. The Theatre League, which he created at Spring's behest, named its annual Remy Awards for outstanding contributions to the region's theater after him.
Now he's off to Chicago, to who-knows-what job (he hasn't decided yet) and the certainty that the kind of cold weather that could make him break out his red coat in Miami will be considered absolutely balmy in the Windy City. Wherever he lands in the arts world, his new employer will gain the services of a man with the soul of an artist, the vision of a dreamer and the very valuable skills of an experienced administrator.
Bon voyage y buena suerte, Rem.