Since February 2018, Miami's chapter of Naked Angels has provided playwrights, screenwriters, and actors an opportunity to practice their craft in front of a live audience.
Having outgrown its downtown location, the Tuesday-night play-reading series has found a new home at the Broadmoor Hotel in Miami Beach, in the Speak Easy Theater Co.'s recently opened space.
Diana Lote, a native New Yorker, brought Naked Angels to Miami when she moved to South Florida and saw the talent here. A veteran in the entertainment industry, Lote has worked on shows for NBC, ABC, Netflix, and Vice as a casting director, executive producer, writer, and developer. Her credits include Law & Order and Orange Is the New Black.
“I had a client who was the creative director of Naked Angels New York, and I was able to cast an entire television show just from the talented people who showed up every week,” Lote tells New Times. “I wanted to do the same in Miami.”
In existence for more than two decades, Naked Angels is the longest-running series involving "plays, screenplays, poetry, novels, songs, comedy, spoken-word, everything" in the nation, providing a venue for local writers to workshop their scripts in progress. (Lote says the name "came from hoping to show people about being both vulnerable and respectful.”) Each week in Miami, Lote chooses and casts three works. Actors must arrive at the venue by 8 p.m. so she can assign roles before the 9 start time. Sets by local writers, poets, musicians, and singers open and close the show.
By the time last season closed, Lote says, the venue was "standing room only, with 50 to 60 people showing up every week."
Lote started out running the show herself, but in January, Speak Easy's founder and creative director, Jeff Quintana, came aboard.
“Jeff became our tech guy, adding music between the transitions and really elevating our weekly gatherings to something much more special. He made it feel like a family,” Lote says. She calls her collaborator "a breath of fresh air.”
The move to larger digs seemed like a natural fit.
A veteran on the local scene, Quintana got his start in Chicago and New York; his pre-Miami resumé includes stints at Second City, the Playground Theatre, and the Upright Citizens Brigade. With Speak Easy, whose black-box theater is tucked behind the taco spot Taquiza inside the Broadmoor, he aims is to provide improv and writing classes in a cabaret-style setting.
“My goal is to provide those classes for both performance and for life,” adds Quintana, who also coaches public speaking at the corporate offices of companies such as Carnival Cruise Line. “I want these classes to be like taking a yoga class — a part of someone’s life, an hourlong session to wake up the brain.”
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Lote and Quintana say Naked Angels fills a void that has been missing in Miami’s theater community: a place to build a career.
“Everyone is welcomed here. Just give your time," Quintana says. "We want to be an incubator for projects and creativity. We would love to see that happen on a tangible level.”
Adds Lote: “We’ve created a community that sees artists through the development stage and helps them make their work come to life."
Naked Angels. 9 p.m. Tuesdays at the Speak Easy Theater in the Broadmoor Hotel, 7450 Ocean Ter., Miami Beach; speakeasytheaterco.com.