BY JORDAN LEVIN, JLEVIN@MIAMIHERALD.COM
Once a bigoted epithet, “queer” was reclaimed by the gay-rights movement as a proudly defiant self-description. But theater artist Taylor Mac, who will perform in the annual Out in the Tropics festival this week, prefers another definition: “Someone who was ostracized by society at an early age to such a degree they could never ostracize anyone else.”
“I love that,” says Mac. “It’s not about sexual preference or gender. It’s about being told you’re different, then being kicked out of society and choosing to live an alternative lifestyle and as a result having empathy towards others.”
When Out in the Tropics launched in 2010, the idea was to provide a platform for GLBTQ artists who would appeal to and speak for that community in South Florida. But for artists in this year’s festival, once-central issues of gay identity and rights are a secondary part of a broader mix.
The 20th Century Show is Mac’s humorous and subversive take on American history in the last century, with the artist — a sensation at the inaugural Out in the Tropics —singing and commenting on major pop songs from each decade.
In Post-Plastica Miami 2013, Ela Troyanos and Carmelita Tropicana use elaborate sets and video to portray a futuristic love triangle between an artist, her celebrity-hungry protégé and a creature who is half bear and half woman.
In Cubalandia, the fact that Cuban theater troupe El Ciervo Encantado and actress Mariela Brito are lesbian is irrelevant to their satire of the Cuban system.
The hunky members of string quartet Well-Strung may work a double-entendre and tight T-shirts, but their appeal is built mostly on the oddity of classical musicians performing Rihanna and Adele as well as Mozart.
Only the film Verde Verde, by Cuban director Enrique Pineda Barnet, tackles more traditional issues of gay male identity and homophobia in contemporary Cuba.
IF YOU GO
What: Out in the Tropics festival
• 7 p.m. Thursday: Free reception and bilingual artists’ panel discussion at Miami Beach LGBT Visitor’s Center, 1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.
• 8:30 p.m. Friday: El Ciervo Encantado’s ‘Cubalandia’ and Taylor Mac’s ‘The 20th Century Show;’ Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach.
• 8:30 p.m. Saturday: ‘Cubalandia,’ Carmelita Tropicana and Ela Troyano’s ‘Post-Plastica Miami 2013;’ Colony.
• 4:30 p.m. Sunday: ‘Verde Verde;’ Miami Beach Cinematheque, 1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.
• 8 p.m. Sunday: Well-Strung in concert; Colony.