A Special Day is definitively multicultural. The play is based on an Italian text, performed by Mexican actors, and spoken in English. Two stage companies — New York’s the Play Company and Mexico City’s Por Piedad Teatro — copresent the work. It’s set to take place in Miami Beach, one of the most frequented international tourist destinations.
The story itself, adapted from Ettore Scola's 1977 Oscar-winning film Una Giornata Particolare, features two characters who find an unlikely kinship in the face of fascism. Set during Mussolini’s dictatorship in pre-World War II Italy, Antonietta is a housewife with a fascist husband, six kids, and a lost bird. Her neighbor Gabriel is a gay man who cannot reveal his true identity in such a tyrannical culture. Yet Antonietta runs first to Gabriel when her dear pet goes missing. Their banter and antics from the misadventure help the duo develop an alliance strong enough to survive the times.
Mexican stage actors Ana Graham and Antonio Vega, who also helped translated the screenplay alongside Danya Taymor, use minimalism to the max in their performances as protagonists. A Special Day uses few props and little furniture, which forces audiences to suspend disbelief and picture the setting. Michel Hausmann, artistic director and co-founder of Miami New Drama, says, “It shows how the stage is a place of infinite imagination and possibilities.”
The local presenting company strives to show the works of domestic and international artists whose work unites audiences from a range of backgrounds. As such, each of these multicultural choices by the two-year-old not-for-profit was exacting. And because A Special Day is only Miami New Drama’s second show, Hausmann says the organization’s selection felt not only timely but also necessary.
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“One of our nation's most important political parties is about to elect as their nominee: A man who openly flirts with fascist rhetoric,” he begins. “Donald Trump's meteoric rise was the reason we wanted to do a show that deals with fascism and its consequence.”
For as much fear as Scola's original characters suppress, Hausmann and the team at Miami New Drama repel. Their bold choices of works, like A Special Day and their inaugural The Golem of Havana, serve to address the issues affecting with world around us. Especially the community nearest.
Asserts Hausmann: “Theater needs to be in conversation with its community. Miami is one of the most diverse cities in America and the theatre that we produce here needs to be a reflection of our social fabric and needs to be in conversation with our audience.”
A Special Day
8 p.m. Thursday, May 5, through Saturday, May 7, and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 8, at the Colony Theatre. Tickets start at $39. Visit miaminewdrama.org.