In a converted warehouse not far from the glitter and glitz of Versailles restaurant's hall of mirrors and the Santería symbols decorating neighborhood botánica windows is a small black-box theater. Ensconced between Southwest Seventh and Eighth streets, the space is dark and intimate. Strains of salsa and merengue from the outside go unheard. The journey here offers more than just music. The experience mixes art, theater, dance, and poetry -- a diverse fusion that seems almost surreal.
Technically it is. Taking place is a monthly event called Surreal Saturdays. The cozy venue is PS 742, short for performance space, headquarters to Artemis Performance Network, the organization presenting the to-do. "The name is because [Surreal Saturday] is a juxtaposition of different forms and styles of art that have nothing to do with each other," explains Susan Caraballo, executive director of Artemis. "Also because it is in Little Havana, and you would not think that you could come here to hear a Haitian band play."
It's precisely that kind of unexpected combination that Caraballo and Artemis seek out. Last month's happening showcased a drama/poetry performance by a local Cuban-American chanteuse, an experimental violin piece, a dramatic reading of ghost stories, and the music of a Haitian roots and dance group. During the breaks between acts, a DJ kept audience members entertained in the yard outside. Among the featured acts this week: Cuban group Buenaventura performs a cappella, Gold Coast Theater Company puts on a brief show, and poets Shawn Beightol and Christina Karman recite work. Café Neuralgia, the artist hang and restaurant formerly known as Freddy's Pizza, will sell goodies as well.
Artemis is one of a handful of groups working to inject some culture into the caffeinated veins of Little Havana. With this event they hope to create a regular meet-and-mingle occasion for budding artists and artsy enthusiasts from all over South Florida. "What we enjoy most about this event is the different crowds," Caraballo notes. "A music person who comes to see music will get to see theater and dance and end up staying all night."