There's a new theater in town. No, really. New Theatre just moved into the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, and the multi-cultural, progressively-minded camp is more than ready for the inaugural production in its new home, David Caudle's Visiting Hours.
Not actually "new" at all, the theater has entertained Miami since 1986 with a dedication to presenting socially relevant material from up-and-coming and mid-level playwrights. They've inched their way into the Center's heart the last couple of years, and now, the relationship is official.
In the past, New Theatre collaborated with the SMDCAC as participants in the Center's All Kids Included Festival, as well as performing in Shadow Theater, which allows hearing impaired fans to watch actively-interpreted performances.
But the relationship runs deeper than a couple collabs. SMDCAC's General Manager Eric Fliss remembers New Theatre artistic director Ricky Martinez from back in the day.
"I used to have a theater company that was on Miami Beach in the mid '80s through the early '90s," Fliss said. "Martinez was a college student at New World School of the Arts who came and worked with us on occasion. It's nice, 20 years later, to actually come full circle and support Ricky in the way that, when I had my theater company, I wished somebody would step up and help us."
According to the Miami Herald, New Theater lost its space at the Roxy Performing Arts Center due to sewage issues last November. Fliss knows it can be difficult to focus on artistry when preoccupied, and that just won't do.
"I invited them to come talk to me to see what we can do for them," Fliss said. "I want all of our theater community to make good art, so if there's anything we can do to assist them to elevate the quality of the art that they're making, as well as any other organization, we're very happy to be that catalyst."
Of course, the move isn't just beneficial to New Theatre, but the greater artistic community of South Miami as a whole.
"I think the community out here is hungry to have something within," he said, "not just for the activities that have happened at the Center but to have that professional theater company within South Dade. This would be one of the first in this area."
And as new members of the Center's family, New Theatre will continue to pay it forward.
"The majority of our artists go out into the community," Fliss said. "They provide workshops and classes, and New Theatre is not exempt from that. They are educators, and they have high quality communicators, so they will be conducting workshops for the community down here at South Dade as part of this arrangement."
New Theater's premiere in-house production, Visiting Hours, follows an older lesbian couple and their estranged son who barges back into their lives following charges of aggravated assault. The work, from frequent New Theatre collaborator David Caudle, delves into the social implications stacked against gay couples and their children.
Visiting Hours will run every Friday and Saturday from Feb. 7 through March 2 at 8:30 p.m., and Sundays (excluding Feb. 9) at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
The performance sets the tone for the thoughtful, poignant and modern approach with which New Theatre will enlighten the Center's offerings.
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"They're a professional company and I want to see professional work here," Fliss said. "I know that they have the capacity to do great things."
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.