Thanksgiving is coming Nov. 22, but more than three dozen of South Florida's most talented theater folks have reason to give thanks early: Joseph Adler has their backs.
Adler, just "Joe" to everyone in the theater community, runs GableStage in Coral Gables. His theater isn't big -- just 150 seats nestled into its space at one end of the historic Biltmore Hotel -- but it's an artistic powerhouse that pretty much cleans up each year at the regional Carbonell Awards. At GableStage, Adler picks his season, directs all the shows and shows up to greet nearly every audience. He's also a presence in the larger cultural community, going to meetings, working the phone, applying for grants, all the things that any busy arts executive does. And yet, perhaps more than any other artistic director, Adler really does give back by mentoring younger artists and their companies.
On Monday, Miami's Naked Stage and three other small companies (Miami's Mad Cat, Davie's Promethean Theatre and Miami's Ground Up & Rising) will be the latest groups to benefit from Adler's generosity. The four companies have joined together in something called The 24-Hour Theatre Project, in which three dozen South Florida theater people will create six new short plays between Sunday and Monday. They'll present them at a $50 per person fundraiser at 8 p.m. Monday at GableStage, and every penny from ticket sales will go to the four companies. No wonder the Naked Stage founders (Antonio Amadeo, his wife Katherine and John Manzelli) are smiling.
Then, on the day after Thanksgiving, Ground Up & Rising takes over GableStage's space for a benefit run of Stephen Adly Guirgis' powerful Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, featuring Bechir Sylvain (in photo) along with Arturo Fernandez, Kameshia Duncan, Sheaun McKinney and Calos Alayeto (Sylvain, Duncan and Fernandez are also doing the 24-Hour Theatre thing). Tickets to the four peformances (8 p.m. Nov. 23-24, 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 25) are $25 each. And again, Adler is making sure that every penny goes to Ground Up.
No one is making Adler do what he does. No one could. Adler, as anyone who has ever worked with him would tell you, is feisty, creative, insightful, mercurial, argumentative, maddening, inspiring. He's also passionate about art and life, and he spends countless hours traveling to other theaters to watch the work of artists he knows. He is, by his actions and not his title, a genuine theater leader. And truly generous.