The word "gay" is such an odd, limiting misnomer. While it's true that many homosexuals really are gay -- merry, light-hearted, showy, and vivacious -- the label implies a one-dimensionality that is essentially inaccurate. Gay folks can be glum, they can be perplexed, they can be conflicted and complicated. Same goes for gay theater, which really isn't all frenzied dancing, excitable musical productions, and jazz hands. Creative Arts Enterprises plans on transforming the public's perception of gay theater during the second annual Lavender Footlights Festival of New Plays, 4 fabulous nights of discussion forums, parties, and mind-expanding theater.
To give this year's festival fresh insight, Creative Arts Enterprises brought in a special guest artistic director: David Zak of Chicago's Bailiwick Repertory Theatre, who brings 22 years of award-winning gay and lesbian theater to the table. He'll be working alongside similarly accoladed local directors Barry Steinman and Rich Simone, as well as City Theater's Gail Garrisan, and local actor/writer Ricky J. Martinez. The opening-night play, Edmund De Santis' The Making of Peter Pope, is described as "an epic comedy about a young gay man struggling to gain control of his life after his mother dies and his father quickly remarries." Then there's local writer Mary Damiano of Fort Lauderdale, who explores Jane Fonda's Breast in a romantic comedy where Orthodox Judaism butts heads with classic film culture. I Stand Naked Before You, also by De Santis, reveals a guy figuring out the meaning of love and commitment. Julie Jensen's Cheat takes us back to World War II, where women working at a defense plant confront the identity society has pinned on them. Doric Wilson's Street Theater paints a portrait of the D-Day of gay history, Stonewall 1969. All this and the Tres Gai Musical Cabaret! Comedy, drama, enlightened discussion, and tunes -- who could ask for anything more?
The Lavender Footlights Festival of New Plays begins at 8:00 tonight and runs through Sunday, September 12, at the Newton Building, 3901 NE Second Ave. Tickets cost $10 for single shows; $30 for musical cabaret; and $35 for show and cabaret. Call 305-573-6477, or visit www.caemia.org. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik
If Lil Jon's distinctive rallying cry "Yeah!" had a color, what would it be? If old-school hip-hop were a painting, what would it look like? Find out when Coma's Art Series presents its second installment, bringing the noise, the funk, and a generous helping of colorful self-expression to Miami Design District's Gallery Night. Celebrated DJ Felix Sama, whom you probably recognize as the man behind the turntables on mun2's The Roof, will be spinning the hottest old-school urban tracks on the ones and twos, while experimental painter Kiki Valdez gleans inspiration from the rhythm and works his magic in paint and sweat on canvas. Scintillating spoken word poet/actress Deborah Magdalena brings humor, smoldering passion, and verve to her hosting duties, which means the promise of a top-notch, blazing poetry performance. Even better, there's free valet parking and no cover charge. The stew starts sizzling at 7:00 p.m. at Coma's Café and Bakery in the Melin Building, 3930 NE 2nd Ave. Call 305-576-8109. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik
Harmonic Motion moves with style
When the Harmonic Motion Ensemble takes the stage this afternoon as part of Performing Arts Network's In-Studio Performance Series, you can bet that exotic cultural offerings from Turkey, Armenia, the Balkans, and more won't collide exasperatingly, just converge ... harmonically. Founded by percussionist/dancer Myriam Eli and musician/composer Joe Zeytoonian, the group has performed all over the world and can be seen sharing its artistry all over South Florida at theaters, weddings, restaurants, you name it. The duo teaches too and also frequently morphs into different incarnations including a trio and a dance theater unit presenting a variety of works from a number of countries such as Spain, Morocco, and Egypt. This afternoon count on seeing a quartet when dancer Carlos Danaan and kanoon player Elias Kilzi join in. Showtime is 3:00 p.m. at PAN, 13126 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami. Tickets cost $12. Call 305-899-7730.-Nina Korman
Weekly World Jam
As crooner Jonathan Richman says: "They gotta lotta lotta lotta nice desks and chairs, at the government center." And just across the street in the courtyard shared by the Miami-Dade Public Library, Miami Art Museum, and the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, they've got Live on the Plaza each Thursday through November, featuring some of the Miami music scene's best-kept secrets. Brought to you by the historical museum and Tobacco Road, the series highlights bands of a strong folk and world music tradition, especially that of the Caribbean and Latin America. Onstage today is Conjunto Progreso, playing the old-time music of Cuba, particularly Cuban son, guarachas, guajiro, and Latin jazz. You'll know them by their traditional instruments: congas, claves, timbales, maracas, and the guitar-like tres. Think of Orquesta Aragon, Ignacio Piñeiro, and Compay Segundo -- stuff your Cuban tios reminisce about -- and you'll get an idea of their inspirations. The music begins at 4:30 p.m. at 101 W. Flagler St. Admission is free. Call 305-375-1492. -- John Anderson