^
Keep New Times Free
4
| Art |

79. Tarell Alvin McCraney

In honor of our People Issue, which will hit newsstands and computer screens

November 25, Cultist proudly presents "100 Creatives," where we feature

Miami's cultural superheroes in random order. Have suggestions for future

profiles? Email cultist@miaminewtimes.com with the whos and whys.

79. Tarell Alvin McCraney

There are certain things you can be if you grow up poor in Liberty City. Some better, others worse, but playwright doesn't often figure into the equation. And a playwright-in-residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, whose plays have already been staged at renowned venues in New York, New Orleans, Seattle, and London, all before you reach the age of 30; there is zero chance of that ever happening. Somebody forgot to tell that to Tarell Alvin McCraney.

McCraney is Miami's number one playwright export, having learned his

craft at some of the most renowned institutions in the drama world, including the New World School of Arts, the Yale School of Drama, the Royal

Shakespeare Company, and the Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble in Chicago

(where he became the 43rd member of the acclaimed troupe).

He's

currently working on a play in England and routinely leaves the Magic

City for more fruitful playwright pastures, but unlike many in the arts

who come from Miami McCraney is devoted to coming back often and, eventually,

for good. "I've basically been trying to bend my entire career around

creating a Shakespeare festival/inner city young people theater in

Miami," McCraney says.

And while his formal education included stints at some of the most

traditional theater institutions in the world, McCraney and his work are

anything but old school. "Often (young people) see plays as a place

where they are taught what they are not -- old school passion plays that

teach us what life could be if we just did right," he explains. "Well,

life isn't always that black and white. And the more young people, gay,

straight, black or white, who see that theater isn't reflecting real

life, (the more they'll) think this isn't for or about me. So I use a

great deal of empathy to try and draw characters that reflect many walks

of life."

McCraney's experiences growing up as a gay, black youth in the inner

city are evident in much of his work and have helped draw non-traditional audiences to his plays. And his unique voice has already

garnered heaps of praise, awards, and distinctions. Even so, he says

home keeps him humble, and that's part of the allure.

"In San Francisco,

they named a day, September 10th, after me. The city did. I was shocked.

I cried. I got home to Miami and called up the drama department at

Northwestern High School, which is right around the corner from my

house. I told the lead teacher that I was doing a free workshop with

some students and would love to do one for the students in the drama

program, if they had the time and interest. She cleared her voice and

asked me again, 'What did you say your name was again?' I just smiled to

myself and thought, Welcome home. I'm still waiting for them to call me

back."

1. List five things that inspire you.

-Pundits

-Injustice (it's 'cause I'm a Libra!)

-Sexy (of all genders)

-The ocean and the moon (trust me it counts as one)

-Young people

2. What was your last big project?

Turning 30 without ever having been arrested, shot, on drugs, or getting someone pregnant out of wedlock -- all while being from Liberty City and black.

3. What's your next big project?

Mounting my play American Trade for the Royal Shakespeare Company, while writing the second draft of Choir Boy for the Manhattan Theater Club.

4. Why do you do what you do?

It's fun to see the veteran theater-goer's faces when you start bringing in the never-been-to-the-theater folks.

5. What's something you want Miami to know about you?

I ride the bus and the train everywhere. So stop tearing up (read

reconstructing) Biscayne Boulevard at the same time you're tearing up

(read pretending to construct) Omni terminal. It's as stupid as shutting

down 36th Street for construction during Art Basel! Don't make no damn sense!

What's something you don't want Miami to know about you?

I don't know how to drive. Never learned. Probably never will. I have pedestrian road rage. Can you imagine if I actually had a car?

The Creatives so far:

80. Jennifer Kronenberg
81.

Farley Aguilar
82.

Colin Foord
83.

Karelle Levy
84.

Matt Gajewski
85.

Antonia Wright
86.

Charles Allen Klein
87.

Christy Gast
88.

Gustavo Matamoros
89.

Shareen Rubiera-Sarwar
90.

Kyle Trowbridge
91.

Clifton Childree
92.

Jessica Gross
93. Danny

Brito
94.

Nektar de Stagni
95.

Anthony Spinello
96.

Vanessa Garcia
97.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Justin Long
98.

Rosie Herrera
99.

Rick Falcon
100.

Ingrid B
 

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.