A Coconut Grove psychiatrist named Dr. Camote visits his past life and learns he was once the idealistic Don Quixote. That's the plot of the zany theater production The Adventures of Don Quixote in Miami. Not the handiwork of regression specialist Brian Weiss on a comedic bent, the play is the creation of financial advisor and restaurateur Manuel Martinez, with a little inspiration from his fellow countryman Cervantes.
Martinez first read Cervantes's classic tome (a shortened children's version lavishly illustrated with cartoons) when he was six years old. That and half a dozen more readings of the complex, full-length book led Martinez to pen a not very market friendly five-hour screenplay, which then evolved into a two-hour play. “I thought it would be easier to communicate with people,” Martinez notes of his abridged work. “Past life regression and future life progression, even the reincarnation theme, had never been touched in theater. I have never seen a play dealing with those issues, at least in the western world.”
The aptly named Dreamers Theatre Company, peopled with veteran actors, performs the work, set in contemporary Miami instead of sixteenth-century golden age Spain. Nevertheless a smooth transition to modern days for the characters, especially Quixote, was simple. “He was a visionary, the kind of person you don't understand,” Martinez explains. “He was beyond his times. Always searching for something better, something new. I thought he had something different. When I read the book, Spain was still under a dictatorship, and he struck me as someone who was really free, a free thinker.”
According to Martinez, even in his optimism the impossible dreamer, Quixote, reflects the Spanish attribute of pessimism, and so to a degree does the play: “It is funny but it's very deep. It's a tragicomedy.” As for the main character, his quixotic personality seems to have made the trip across many lifetimes too. “Dr. Camote has his ideas. He makes many mistakes,” Martinez says. “He tries to do his best, even if at the end he's wrong.”