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Culture

South Florida’s Push For Theater Art And Relief Goes on

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Florida International University
FIU's '60 Second Somethings for Seniors': Clockwise from left: retired English professor Rick Schwartz; Panther Tech store manager Larry Misrahi; theater major Shayda Muvdi; and FIU Miami Beach Urban Studios' John Stuart.

It’s mid-April, a month into isolating at home, and South Florida’s theater artists and companies are busily engaged in virtual programming, classes and relief efforts. Here’s a roundup of initiatives, some new, others ongoing.

FAU THEATRE LAB

Theatre Lab’s Online Original Monologue Festival (#OOMF) in March was a hit, so now the Florida Atlantic University company is planning a slightly different April edition of its virtual effort to help the region’s theater artists.

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Credit Theatre Lab
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Theatre Lab
FAU Theatre Lab's second Original Online Monologue Festival, featuring multiple artists in virtual performances, will celebrate unsung theater heroes at the end of April.

The first festival raised more than $4,000 in direct-to-artist contributions and more than $1,000 for the South Florida Theatre League’s Relief Fund, which now totals more than $7,000. The second iteration of #OOMF will also encourage contributions to the league’s fund, but its primary purpose is to help those considered unsung, behind-the-scenes theater heroes, such as stage managers, technicians, designers, administrators and box office workers.

The first deadline was April 15, when those wishing to be a beneficiary needed to apply via the company’s Facebook page. Beneficiaries will be featured on Theatre Lab’s Facebook page in the leadup to the festival. Playwrights will then write pieces on the broad theme of heroes, and actors will perform the original stories, monologues or two-character, three-page scenes. 

“We’re looking for writers from Jupiter to the Keys, because we all work throughout the area,” says Matt Stabile, Theatre Lab’s producing artistic director.

Among the workshops offered, there will be a scene-writing session on the Facebook page at 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. April 16. Previous online workshops on elements of storytelling and crafting a monologue are still available on the page.

Submissions of material to education director Jill Carr at carrj@fau.edu must be received no later than 10 a.m. April 20. The event will be livestreamed on Theatre Lab’s Facebook page at 7:30 p.m. April 27, and those watching can make direct contributions to the featured heroes.

For more information, go to facebook.com/theatrelabfau.

ACTORS' PLAYHOUSE

Actors’ Playhouse at The Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables has launched a program titled, “Stories That Connect Us All.” 

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Credit Alberto Romeu
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Actors' Playhouse co-founder Dr. Lawrence E. Stein; co-founder and executive producing director Barbara Stein; artistic director David Arisco; and Theater for Young Audiences director Earl Maulding have launched a writing competition and online classes.

The company is asking writers from Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties to create pieces about this unprecedented moment in time, either as a monologue or a third-person story (no multi-character pieces will be accepted). Each piece should run under eight minutes.

Deadline for submissions is May 1. Writers and actors expect to perform the selected pieces at a public event in The Miracle’s Balcony Theatre once it’s safe to gather again.

For more information, go to actorsplayhouse.org and click on “Stories That Connect Us All.” 

Also from Actors’ Playhouse: Earl Maulding, director of the company’s Theatre for Young Audiences, and actor/dancer Reynel Reynaldo are teaching a series of virtual theater master classes. Subjects include musical theater, jazz dance, monologues, hip-hop and vocal performance.

Students are grouped by age (7 to 12 and 13 to 18), and each Zoom class costs $20. Individual classes are available at $60 per hour.

For more information and registration, go to actorsplayhouse.org and click on “Theatre Classes.”

FIU DEPARTMENT OF THEATRE

The Department of Theatre at Florida International University has created a program titled, “60 Second Somethings for Seniors.” And in this case, “seniors” doesn’t refer to soon-to-be graduates but rather to senior citizens isolated in places such as nursing homes, independent and assisted living facilities, and Veterans Administration hospitals. 

The department – with an assist from students Shadya Muvdi, Glenda Umana, Dayron Leon and Ana Gorayeb – is seeking video submissions of about a minute each showcasing all sorts of talents, such as music, drama, juggling, comedy, magic or photography. These will then be woven together in a series of half-hour programs sent to the facilities that are home to seniors. 

Associate Professor Phillip M. Church asks would-be participants to email him at 60secondsomethings@gmail.com. They’ll then receive a Google Drive link with a password to post their videos. He expects the first episode to go out about two weeks after the semester ends in late April.

MIAMI NEW DRAMA

Miami New Drama is continuing its free virtual master classes, dubbed MasterMiND, in both English and Spanish.

On April 16, director Javier Vidal will lead a Spanish-language workshop titled, “La firma del director” (“The Director’s Signature”). The following week, Pablo Gershanik offers “Metaforas como posibilidad de resiliencia” (“Metaphors as a Possibility of Resilience”) in Spanish on April 20. David Schrader leads a workshop on the business of theater on April 22. And on April 24, playwright Rogelio Martinez will deliver a workshop on how to incorporate history into writing in a dynamic way. 

All the above sessions are set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, go to colonymb.org/post/mastermind-master-class-series. Previous master classes are also available on the site.

FLORIDA SHAKESPEARE THEATER

Florida Shakespeare Theater is offering a free online staged reading of the Bard’s great comedy, “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Set for 8 p.m. April 18 and directed by artistic director Colleen Stovall, the reading features Caitlin Duffey as Beatrice; Seth Trucks as Benedick; Nick Lamedica as Claudio; Susannah Eig as Hero; and Jordon Armstrong as Don John. 

Also performing are Sara Grant, Peter Galman, Nicole Minardi, Neil Evangelista, Ned Cray, Michelle Perkins, Lito Becerra, Joseph Urick, Johnbarry Green, Daniel Capote, Christopher Dreeson, Chris Cooper and Aletta Kemp.

For more information or registration to watch the Zoom reading, go to floridashakes.com

MEASURE FOR MEASURE THEATRE

Measure for Measure Theatre, which managed a single performance of its regional premiere musical, “Island Song,” before social distancing began, is embracing an ambitious, resonant way to fill the performance gap: a virtual, staged reading of both parts of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning opus, “Angels in America,” a magnificently moving examination of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

Staged by artistic director Daimien Joseph Matherson, the reading will stream on Facebook Live in six hourlong sessions beginning April 17 and ending April 26. Watch at 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays.

The cast features Sabrina Lynn Gore as Harper Pitt; Ernesto Gonzalez as Joe Pitt; Eric O’Keefe as Prior Walter; Spencer Landis as Louis Ironson; Johnbarry Green as Roy Cohn; and Missy McArdle as Hannah Pitt and Ethel Rosenberg. Also in the cast are Carlos Alayeto, Mallory Newbrough and Ricky Morisseau.

The company will seek donations via PayPal and Venmo, and it will split any contributions with the artists.

For more information, go to facebook.com/measureformeasuretheatre.

ARSHT CENTER

Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts keeps adding to its online Arsht@Home content, and now two offerings from the center’s theater partners are available. 

Zoetic Stage has posted a monologue from Michael McKeever’s play, “The Miamians,” performed by Gabriell Salgado at arshtcenter.org/ARSHT-AT-HOME/Miami-Monologues

City Theatre is providing the two-character play, “Earth Date,” by Ryan Bultrowicz, performed by Stephon Duncan and Daniel Llaca at arshtcenter.org/ARSHT-AT-HOME/Arts-Partners/City-Theatre.

For more information on Arsht@Home, go to arshtcenter.org.

ARTIST GRANTS

A massive Artist Relief effort has been launched by a group of national arts grant-making groups, including the Miami-based National YoungArts Foundation.

Begun with a $5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the fund has received an additional $5 million in contributions from YoungArts, the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the MAP Fund and United States Artists. Those organizations will continue to raise funds on behalf of Artist Relief.

The unrestricted $5,000 grants, prioritized by financial need, will be distributed over the next six months to artists throughout the United States in a wide array of disciplines.

For more information or to apply, go to artistrelief.org.

In addition, the National YoungArts Foundation is launching the YoungArts Emergency Microgrant program to provide unrestricted $1,000 grants to alumni from April through June.

For more information or to apply, go to youngarts.org/alumni.

NEW CITY PLAYERS

New City Players artistic director Timothy Mark Davis is continuing his 9 p.m. “Late Show Live” Instagram conversations with people from South Florida’s theater community.

This week's lineup features director Jessica Schulte on April 16; and actor Alex Joyel on April 17. You can also watch Davis’ previous conversations with theater artists from throughout the region.

For more information, go to instagram.com/newcityplayers.

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news.