Sound Bite: South Beach. Produced by The Project [theatre] in collaboration with Silent Revolution Events and Alma Dance Theatrer for the Mad Cat & More Festival
One Night Only — Thursday, April 7, 2016
Doors: 7:30 pm; Show: 8:00 pm
The Gleason Room – Backstage at the Fillmore Miami Beach
1700 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
For one night only, The Project [theatre] is turning The Gleason Room – Backstage at the Fillmore Miami Beach into pop-up club SOUND BITE. In true Project fashion, you will get to drink, dance, and experience the play happening all around you. The Project is partnering up with Silent Revolution Events to allow you to slip on a pair of headphones and hear the action of the play– even the character’s inner thoughts. DJ Myke Dilla will be spinning all night long and the evening will feature a special performance by Alma Dance Theater.
Every night has a story. SOUND BITE: SOUTH BEACH is your night to slip on a pair of headphones and immerse yourself in the story of the hottest club on South Beach. Listen up while you buy drinks at the bar, let loose on the dance floor, and get down with sounds provided by Silent Revolution. An events provider with a focus on Silent Disco entertainment systems and Electronic Marketing Solutions for festival goers, event guests, conference and convention groups, including new product launch audiences.
From the pre-game ‘til the morning after walk of shame, The Project [theatre] is taking you behind the velvet rope and through an experience you may not remember but you’ll never forget.
Go behind the velvet rope, slip on a pair of headphones, and experience a night in South Beach you may not remember but you’ll never forget.
Tune in, Turn up, Let go.
About The Project: The Project [theatre] brings stories to life in an innovative and immersive way. They start with an original story, set it in a unique location, and mix in Miami’s finest talent. Finally they invite an audience in, allowing them to immerse themselves in the world they’ve created. The Project [theatre] take theatre out of the confines of its traditional setting and make the audience experience paramount in the creation of their work. By approaching storytelling in this way, the audience can live inside a fully created world where anything is possible. Looking forward they plan to being part of a future where Miami is a nationally recognized hub for innovative theatre. Being part of the community, The Project [theatre] strive to be Miami’s theatre alternative, creating non-traditional theatrical experiences and presenting the art form in a variety of unique, fun, and engaging ways that immerse a new generation of theatre goers and excite long-time patrons.”
That’s how Project [theatre] describes itself. We figured it was too apt to alter.
Four young theater professionals collaborated to create this alternative theatre form a few years ago. Since then, they have produced 19 world-premiere short plays and one full-length production. Their goal is to “blur the line between spectator and spectacle while igniting a new generation’s thirst for their live theater.”
The Project made a pledge to remain affected by their environment and to continue to evolve. To us, that made the group particularly interesting, since so many art forms cater to methods and functions from the past… and not all of them are great. So we at Cultist respect Project’s goal of artistic evolution. After all, the world “blog” (as in, the Cultist medium) did not exist in Webster’s Dictionary until after 2004. Times are changing, people!
That said, their performances are worthy of a mention here especially since plans are afoot with Silent Revolution for The Project [theatre] next show, “the world of the play at SOUND BITE” – a pop-up club at the Fillmore on Miami Beach where you will slip on a pair of @silentrevolutionmia headphones, grab a drink, and experience a night out you may not remember but you’ll never forget.
The Project [theatre] – A Little History
Miami’s The Project [theatre] does drama differently. The 4-year-old company produces its work sporadically, but when a Project project turns up, you can bet it will be an immersive piece aimed at engaging both theater fans and a non-traditional, younger audience.
Though it has focused so far on original work like Beer & Cigarettes and Urban Apparel, under new executive artistic director Stephen Kaiser the company is now doing Gina Gionfriddo’s U.S. Drag. Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the play follows a pair of Vassar grads, Angela (Liz Dikinson) and Allison (Gladys Ramirez), as they pursue fortune and fame in Manhattan. But their golden ticket to both just might be tracking down a thug named Ed and claiming a $100,000 reward.
The play’s title, a term used by William S. Burroughs in Naked Lunch, evokes a combination of restlessness and malaise. Angela and Allison are suffering from it, but so are the other characters.
In the women’s orbit are Evan (Ben Sandomir), a neighborhood watch leader who warns against helping others (that’s how Ed gets close to his victims); James (Peter Mir), a highly emotional, self-styled victim advocate; Christopher (Jeremiah Musgrove), an author whose descriptions of imagined childhood abuse in his “creative non-fiction” work have alienated his stunned parents; Ned (Theo Reyna), a charmless and friendless Wall Street guy who demands Angela and Allison help find him a wife; and Mary (Jannelys L. Santos), an Ed victim who sports a shiner and a bad case of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Staged by Kaiser in a refurbished storefront space at 5600 NW Seventh Ave., on the eastern edge of Liberty City, the production immerses the audience in Angela and Allison’s New York world — crashing on Ned’s sofa, going to neighborhood watch meetings, hitting a bar and a club, going out on a dispiriting double date, hanging in Christopher’s hotel room. As a spectator, you might interact a bit. Or not.
Gionfriddo, who writes for TV’s Law & Order and House of Cards, has had greater success with her post-U.S. Drag plays After Ashley and Becky Shaw. U.S. Drag is a dark satire about a pair of shallow, privileged women whose mantra is “me, me, me.” The script takes some deft potshots at the thirst for easy, unearned fame and the way we lurch toward fulfillment without a road map. But the play is finally more rambling than pointed.
The acting is solid, often deliberately exaggerated to emphasize the characters’ comically deep self-involvement. Reyna’s cranky, condescending Ned and Musgrove’s amusingly ridiculous Christopher are vividly rendered narcissists. Dikinson’s Angela is a pragmatic cynic, and Ramirez gets to go on a little journey when Allison briefly morphs into a Stepford Wife wannabe.
Ed, the unseen attacker who precipitates much of the play’s action, might not be an actual human being. He might be a concept, a symbol of the menace and unease that creeps into our dreams or the fears that stalk us in the 21st century. Experiencing U.S. Drag in The Project’s latest pop-up space — though there’s a fenced parking lot with a security guard behind the building, the area at night isn’t a place where you’d want to be walking alone — makes that aspect of immersive theater just a little too real.
The Project [theatre] – And a Little more HistoryA night at Design District club Bardot on Saturday night’s will be familiar to anyone who’s spent time on the Miami music scene: a party back in the Summer of 2015 for an up-and-coming local rap duo, with a performance by the artists at this popular local music venue.
But you won’t find this group’s music on iTunes or see them at another club. The party, the show and the rappers themselves are fictional, created for a theater piece, Hip Hop Won’t Save You, staged by an innovative Miami ensemble that mixes audiences and performers in real-life venues.
“We’re re-imagining the way we experience theater,” says Stephen Kaiser, co-artistic director of The Project [theatre]. “The show starts the minute the audience gets out of their cars. When you’re in the world of the show, it has a way of waking audiences up and tuning them in.”
The audience might find actors performing a scene next to them at Bardot’s bar. Previous shows by The Project include Urban Apparel, which satirized trendy clothing chains such as Urban Outfitters and took place in a downtown storefront where the audience could buy real clothing by local designers. Extended Stay, about a reality show at a South Beach hotel, was staged in the lobby of the real Riviera Hotel.
“We want the audience to feel like they’re part of our world,” says Gladys Ramirez, the group’s other artistic director and co-creator of Hip Hop with Kaiser.
Hip Hop Won’t Save You tells the story of two popular local performers, longtime friends Rickie King, who is white, and Qui Fitzroy, who is black. When they start to become successful, King (played by Kaiser) succumbs to pressure to take on a stereotypical thuggish image, alienating his partner (played by Marquise Rogers) and the community that fostered him.
“He’s willing to do this to himself and the people around him to make it big,” says Ramirez, 29. “He wants to toughen his image, because that’s what people want to see – more guns, more violence – and he’s willing to take on that persona.”
The story raises issues of racism and racial stereotypes in pop music and culture, as well as who defines what it means to be black, and how commercial pressure can transform artists.
“The story of these bi-racial rappers gave us a platform to delve into racial issues and cultural appropriation,” says Kaiser, 30. “They both grew up in Little Haiti being part of the community. Fame creeps in and … [King] loses sight of all the things that brought him to love this in the first place. Instead, he starts going out of his way to appropriate the culture in an offensive way, playing up stereotypes of what people think they should see.”
Kaiser and Ramirez incorporate other elements of the local scene. Two real Miami rap artists, Matt the F**king Rapper and The Real Paul Morris, open for the fictional duo. Kalyn Chapman James, who hosts the WPBT cultural magazine show Art Loft, narrates a fictional Behind the Music-style film that screens during the Bardot show. Famed Miami hip hop dancer/choreographer and actor Rudi Goblen, who choreographed Hip Hop Won’t Save You and composed the musical tracks for its fictional rappers, also performs as himself.
Hip Hop Won’t Save You was largely inspired by Kaiser and Ramirez’s lives and surroundings. Kaiser, a lanky, towering, bespectacled actor, loved to freestyle rap in high school at New World School of the Arts.
“I stuck out like a sore thumb, this 6’5” nerdy white guy joins in the circle and gets down,” he says. “It took people a second to say this is OK.”
Both of the Project’s artistic directors are fans of hip hop music. They live several blocks west of the Design District, close to Little Haiti, and the gentrifying neighborhoods of Wynwood and Midtown Miami. A friendship with the sound engineer at Bardot, where they had often gone to concerts, led to the venue — an early outpost in the area’s trendy transformation — offering to host the pair’s show.
“We want to tell the story of Miami for the next generation,” says Ramirez. “Stories of gentrification, stories of our neighborhood where we live.”