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2 posts from September 2013

September 26, 2013

'From Scratch' celebrates new plays

One of the milestones in the developmental life of a new play -- a high-profile staged reading -- happens Sunday for the four playwrights in Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs' Playwright Image001Development Program.  Four writers mentored by award-winning playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer will hear their works read at the From Scratch festival at the Deering Estate at Cutler -- and you can take it all in for free.

First up at noon is Andie Arthur's The Secret of the Biological Clock, a piece recommended for teen audiences.  It centers on 16-year-old Jasmine, a girl determined to find her real dad with the help of a teen detective.

Flashing LIghts, a play by Edward G. Excalibur, is next up at 2 p.m.  That one is about a woman whose marriage is falling apart as she battles insomnia and binge eating.  Adult language is part of this play and the next two.

Susan Westfall's Two Weekends, which will be read at 5 p.m., is about change that affects old friends "confronted by love, loss and the arrival of the new neighbor lady."

VG pic 1The final reading, at 7 p.m., is of Vanessa Garcia's The Cuban Spring.  In it, Siomara Gonzalez faces an identity crisis that threatens her, her marriage and her oldest child.

The historic Deering Estate at Cutler is at 16701 SW 72nd Ave. in Miami.  For more information, call 305-235-1668, ext. 233, or visit the facility's web site.

(Photos show Deborah Zoe Laufer, top, and Vanessa Garcia)

 

September 06, 2013

McCraney's 'Antony and Cleopatra' has its cast

IMG_Tarell_McCraney_port_2_1_6V362J91Tarell Alvin McCraney's set-in-Haiti version of William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, a collaborative effort by South Florida's GableStage, Great Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company and New York's Public Theater, now has its Mark Antony, its Cleopatra, an international cast and a full creative team.  And the production, which will debut at the RSC's Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon Nov. 7-30 before moving to Miami Beach's Colony Theater Jan. 11-Feb. 9 and the Public Feb. 18-March 23, involves a trio of grads from Miami's New World School of the Arts.

First among them, of course, is McCraney, who graduated from New World's high school then went on to earn degrees from DePaul University and the Yale School of Drama.  The Miami-raised playwright, a rising star in the United States and England, has moved the action of the play to the late 1700s in Saint-Domingue on the eve of the Haitian Revolution against the French.  He is also directing the play, which begins rehearsals this month in England,

Haitian-American choreographer Gelan Lambert, also a New World grad, will create the production's dances and movement.  And New World graduate Charise Castro-Smith, an actor, playwright and Yale Drama School grad, has been cast as Iras and Octavia.

Five of the play's performers are American:  Castro-Smith, Joaquina Kalukango (Cleopatra), Ian Lassiter (Agrippa and Thyreus), Chivas Michael (Mardian, Eros and The Soothsayer), and Henry Stram (Lepidus and Proculeius).  England's Jonathan Cake will play Mark Antony, with fellow British performers Samuel Collings (Octavius), Ash Hunter (Pompey, Alexas and Scarus), Chukwudi Iwuji (Enobarbus) and Sarah Niles (Charmian and Menas) rounding out the cast.

The set is being designed by the RSC's Tom Piper, with Stephen Strawbridge doing the lighting and Michael Thurber composing the music.

GableStage is doing its run of Antony and Cleopatra at the Colony on Miami Beach's Lincoln Road because of the venue's greater seating capacity.  In addition to regular performances, the company will bring in Miami-Dade County students to experience McCraney's action-packed take on Shakespeare at special free shows.

For information on Antony and Cleopatra in South Florida, call the GableStage box office at 305-446-1116 or visit the theater's web site.

                                (Photo of Tarell Alvin McCraney by George Schiavone)