In Miami's ever-evolving cultural landscape, change is not only welcome but also required for survival. And the Miami Made Festival, bringing up-and-coming theater and dance projects to the Adrienne Arsht Center February 26 through March 3, is evolving along with its local talent. The eighth edition of the festival comprises five free shows this week, with a twist on its earlier presentations: It's branching out across Biscayne Bay, infusing one of the Miami Made events with a dose of reality television and putting it on at a South Beach hotel.
Project Theatre, whose past performances have included flash mobs and characters with names like Connie Lingus, kicks off this year's festival with the reality TV spoof Extended Stay at the Riviera Hotel in South Beach. The immersive, interactive performance will include participation by the audience and hotel staff and will be filmed live, reality-TV-style. It's not your typical night at the theater.
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Scott Shiller, executive vice president of the Arsht Center who has worked on the annual Miami Made fest since 2008, says that's exactly the point. "[When I got here,] I immediately began being immersed in the local arts groups, and one of the things I realized very early on was that Miami was really dedicated to creating new work, both in the visual arts and in performance art," he says. "It really surprised me that so much new work was being created in Miami and how audiences were responding to that new work." This focus on new work and the nourishment of new talent, he says, is what Miami Made is, well, made of.
Shiller's goal is for Miami Made to serve as a platform that opens up other opportunities for its participating artists, such as allowing them to expand to full productions here, in other major U.S. cities, and abroad. That type of success has been achieved by choreographer, dancer, and Arsht Center sweetheart Rosie Herrera, whose works were spotlighted in the 2010 Miami Made Festival, helping her win a spot in the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina; stage a premiere at the Joyce Theater in New York City in January; and attract the attention of Mikhail Baryshnikov, who recently invited Herrera and her company to perform at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Last year's Small Membership and Beer Samplers, from writer Mark Della Ventura and Project Theatre, respectively, were both picked up to become full productions, and the artists behind those pieces will be back with new work this year.