Entering its ninth year, Out in the Tropics (OITT) will return to Miami this month. The program’s purpose is to expose audiences to underrepresented artists, effectively blurring the lines separating traditional performative arts genres — and broaching mainstream culture's boundaries of sexual normativity. This monthlong festival, with events at various venues throughout Miami-Dade, includes everything from live poetry readings to micro-plays to folklorist music.
According to Ever Chavez, the founder and executive director of FUNDarte, this festival is intended to promote gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer artists and their works. FUNDarte has presented Out in the Tropics since the festival's inaugural edition nearly a decade ago, and in past seasons, the performances were spread over four days. This year, FUNDarte has partnered with Centro Cultural Español (CCE) to expand the caliber and number of its productions so that the performances can be consumed throughout South Florida for nearly 30 days.
“This will enable us to expand our reach and, in turn, expose our audience members to a rich multidisciplinary program that wholeheartedly embraces art, theater, music, and poetry created by queer Latino/
OITT events are accessible to all audiences, both in terms of location and price. Several of the upcoming events are free and are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, such as Richard Blanco's poetry reading at Miami Beach Botanical Garden June 23 and the Rocío García gallery exhibit from May 24 through June 22. The exhibit will open today, May 23, with a free reception at the gallery.
Both of these artists, according to Chavez, discuss themes in their work that he believes deserve greater attention. García, for example, addresses sexual identity, whereas Blanco delves into the intersectionality of his identity: Cuban, American, and gay.
“By providing safe spaces for inquiry and solidarity, it is our hope that individuals take away from this series a deeper level of appreciation for global artists who are pushing boundaries that foster dialog and consciousness-raising,” Chavez says. “If we can foster a more tolerant and supportive community for all individuals, including allies, then everybody benefits.”
For two nights near the end of OITT, audiences will also have the opportunity to watch BR Trans, a solo-play inspired by Brazilian visionary Silvero Pereira’s work with transsexuals in his native country. The author, actor, and director believes performance — interdisciplinary or traditional — is an effective tool for exploring complex social issues and various aspects of humanity. He hopes to highlight these themes throughout his performances and through the tellings of this story.
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“I believe in art as a social weapon, as an instrument of questioning and provocation,” Pereira says. “As an artist, I feel the need to raise awareness, empathy, catharsis, and, perhaps, reduce prejudices.”
By curating a program that explores these underrepresented and sometimes controversial aspects of human identity, Chavez believes Miamians can only benefit by attending these performances.
“The community benefits from the education and consciousness-raising that OITT programs provide,” he says. “Visiting artists benefit by achieving greater visibility and developing an audience base in our region, while the region benefits from its inclusion in a greater, global social objective to raise world consciousness on these critical issues.”
Out in the Tropics. Thursday, May 24, through June 24 at various venues in Miami-Dade; fundarte.us. Ticket prices vary by event.