A Miami Theater Group Hosts A Play ... On Bikes

Oct 1, 2014

Over the last few years, bicycle culture has been picking up speed around South Florida.

The Front Yard Theater Collective has combined bicycles and culture.

In its latest play, the troupe performed its scenes at different locations in downtown Miami, and the audience rode on bicycles from one spot to another. It was called “History On Wheels.”

Gaby Fernandez directed "History on Wheels" and is founder of the Front Yard Theater Collective. She started the group four years ago, when she was putting on shows in her cousin’s front yard near Edgewater.

The play starts in 1891, inside the lab of inventor Nikola Tesla. He creates a time-traveling bicycle for Julia Tuttle, who’s known as the Mother of Miami.

Tesla’s bicycle takes Tuttle to Miami’s past, when the Tequesta Indians are overpowered by Spanish conquistadors.

Then Tuttle zooms forward and learns about Overtown’s role in incorporating Miami as a city, the influence of Cuban immigration and even the rapper Pitbull – this scene is done through a spoof of the 1970s bilingual TV show, “¿Qué Pasa, USA?”

Tuttle ends up in a post-sea level rise future when Miami is underwater, ruled by sea creatures and mermaids.

Gaby Fernandez posing in a "History On Wheels" costume outside her home in Edgewater.
Credit Julia Duba

The group produced its first bicycle theater play last year, called “Alice in Wynwoodland.”

More people showed up than Fernandez expected. She says that goes to show Miami is responding to a new cultural movement.

“I feel like now is the time for all those people that are culturally inclined to say ‘I’m not moving to New York. I’m not moving to L.A. I’m going to stay here in Miami and build the cultural scene that I crave from those cities, here,’ ” says Fernandez, who’s from Venezuela.

She considers herself a true "Miamian" now. Although she’s not sure what her next show will be about, she says the group plans to keep going with bicycle theater.