| Theater |

NYC Theatre Festival to Feature Miami Playwright, Director, and Actors

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The renaissance has arrived; no longer does Miami stand in the shadow of NYC and San Francisco. These days, the Magic City holds its own — particularly when it comes to arts and culture. 

In added proof that the 305 is flush with serious talent, the Juggerknot Theatre Company is producing The Crocodile's Bite at Samuel French's 40th Annual Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival (OOB) in NYC this week. Juggerknot is dedicated to a cross-pollination of talent between MIA and NYC.

The play, written by Miami playwright Vanessa Garcia, will be directed by FIU graduate, Victoria Collado and performed by Tanya Bravo, Lorenzo Gutierrez, David Perez-Ribada, and Reza Salazar. Collado, Perez-Ribada and Gutierrez are all Miami natives who now live and work in NYC. The play is set in Miami, and features four strangers from diverse backgrounds who end up changing each other's lives irrevocably.

"My play is about intersecting lives, and what it means to truly live in a 'melting pot' – the idea that when it boils over, it can get dangerous. During the rehearsal process, we have been talking a lot about what the heart of Miami is – and that is something complex," Garcia says. "People look at Miami from the outside and they think South Beach, bikinis, and fun in the sun. But the city is layered and deep."

She hand-picked Juggerknot — and its producer, Tanya Bravo — to produce the play. Together, they chose the cast and director. 

"Sam French is a big deal in the theatre world, so I was absolutely honored and excited about this opportunity. It felt like a big deal and I wanted to put my best work forward," says Garcia. "The other playwrights are phenomenal, and the people that lead Sam French are just so supportive and fantastic. I was over the moon, really, to be in such good company."

The weeklong event runs from August 4 through 9, and 30 plays will be presented. The Crocodile's Bite was selected as a finalist in the festival from almost 1,500 submissions, and it'll be performed on Thursday, August 6, at the East 13th Street Theatre in NYC. At the end of the week, Samuel French’s editorial staff will select six titles from among the performances for publication and licensing.

"If you don’t look closely, you don’t realize how much of Miami is breathing life into New York. Going to Miami and working with this cast and director, so much of which was raised by Miami, is invigorating. There are so many of us trying to make the Miami-voice heard – because it most definitely has something to say," she explains.

She even saw tangible proof of Miami's influence on NYC during the play's rehearsal process. 

"Our first two rehearsals were at BAM in Brooklyn," Garcia says. "One of the days, I was standing in the lobby, waiting for Tanya and Victoria, and I look up at the frieze arches and immediately recognize that they are covered in a work of art by Cristina Lei Rodriguez, who is a Miami visual artist. It’s called Polychrome, and is an adhesive wallpaper installation. And it definitely brings a great deal of thought and life and layering into that frieze, into that space. So, while Victoria, David, me, Tanya, Lorenzo, and Reza were rehearsing in a room of BAM, Cristina was there on its walls. That’s Miami in NYC. We're everywhere, working to make things happen."

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