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With 'Sins' In Storefronts, Live Theater Thumbs Its Nose At COVID And Returns To Miami Beach

Copy of 7 Deadly Sins - Miami New Drama (pictured, Stephen G. Anthony, Sandi Stock; photo Justin Swader).jpg
Justin Swader
To bring live theater back during the pandemic, Miami New Drama's "7 Deadly Sins" uses storefronts as stages.

Stores closed because of COVID-19 have become Miami New Drama's new storytelling venues.

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"Miami is a city of sin" says Michel Hausmann, Miami New Drama artistic director and co-founder, with a smile.

Or at least one section of Miami Beach will be, until Jan. 17. That's the tentative closing night for Miami New Drama's "7 Deadly Sins: Temptation in the Magic City."

Billed as a "site-specific, socially-distanced live theatrical event," the work is a true child of its pandemic-related times.

It works like this: a short play for each sin, performed in seven vacant storefronts along Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road. In rotation for about 90 minutes, small groups of theatergoers — wearing masks and spaced apart for safety — move from station to station outside, listening to the actors through earbuds.

Theater companies nationwide have had to look for new ways to bring the live theatrical experience back during the pandemic, while keeping their audiences, casts and crews safe.

Hausmann's "eureka" moment was born of a melancholy chore at the start of the pandemic. He was moving personal belongings from the company's home at the Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road, in anticipation of what turned out to be a months-long separation. He noticed shuttered storefronts along the famous strip, victims of the COVID-fueled economic downturn.

"And I thought that this might be a really interesting place to explore storytelling," says Hausmann.

He commissioned seven playwrights (among them, Miami New Drama co-founder Moises Kaufman and Pulitzer Prize-winner Nilo Cruz) to write a short play featuring one or two actors apiece.

So during a public health crisis, a time of great political upheaval and an era of racial reckoning — why the Seven Deadly Sins instead of, say, the Seven Heavenly Virtues?

Hausmann calls the playwrights' explorations a fun and "sexy" way of examining the human experience.

"It's a good window into the soul of the crisis we are facing now that I think goes beyond the pandemic," he said.

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IF YOU GO

WHAT: Miami New Drama’s “7 Deadly Sins”

WHEN: Through Sunday, Jan. 17

WHERE: Along the 1100 block of Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; audience members pick up their admission wrist bands at Colony Theatre's box office, 1040 Lincoln Road.

FOR MORE INFO: miaminewdrama.org

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This interview is part of “Intermission,” WLRN’s series looking at how South Florida’s arts community is coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve also been hearing from people who are NOT artists by trade, but who are tapping into their creative side during COVID isolation.

If you’ve got a story for us, please send an email to talktous@wlrnnews.org, with the word “Intermission” in the subject line.