Miami is not known for its profusion of bona fide black theater.
But that is about to change at least for a weekend.
Through August 5, the first Urban Theatre and Entertainment Festival/Awards will showcase a variety of films, plays, musicals, lectures, and workshops at various locations throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Urban Theatre and Entertainment Festival/ Awards
For a complete list of events, call 305-835-0321
The festival was orchestrated by local PR giants Julia Brown and Ed Haynes, of JEBA Enterprises. After recently participating in the popular National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the duo realized about two percent of the estimated 55,000 filmmakers, playwrights, thespians, and industry giants in attendance hailed from the Sunshine State.
So they decided to create a South Florida event that would highlight predominantly local talent. The response, Brown says, attracted the likes of Opa-locka native and star of the longest-running African-American TV series, Family Matters: JoMarie Payton. "She contacted us when she heard about what we were doing," Brown says. "She was raised here and wanted to give something back to her community."
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The festival also enticed local playwrights Stephen and Cheryl Quant. The husband and wife are scheduled to star alongside a cast of thirteen including four youths in their hit play, Go and Get Your Life Back, on Thursday, August 3, in Miami Gardens.
"It's a family-oriented play that deals with the issues and struggles of family life," Cheryl explains. "We use the arts as a healing tool for families." Set to a soundtrack of R&B-style songs, the two-hour show premiered three years ago.
On the bill for Friday is a lively tale of life in the Jamaican ghetto, Jamaica Dance Hall Vibes Play. "There is a common misconception that the ghetto breeds only violence," quips Ann McKenzie, who hails from the island and co-wrote the musical in 2005. "We take a positive look at the ghetto, and music plays a very important part of that lifestyle." Although the cast of seven is entirely Jamaican, McKenzie assures that the use of the native patois does not make the plot unintelligible.
For a complete list of events, call 305-835-0321, or visit www.jebapresents.com.