“I had hoped to really work on the script when I was directing in Key West, but I got so busy that the play moved to the back burner. Well, really, it wasn’t even on the stove,” Meltzer says, laughing. “The play happens around a table, with three couples, over the course of a year. You see how the relationships change or don’t. ...You see them eating a different course at each meal, and the meals are French, German and Spanish.”
The last was inspired by one disastrous dish Meltzer fixed for a dinner he hosted with his partner and fellow playwright, McKeever: “It was a smoked rabbit paella, and it was a fiasco.”
The most elaborate piece in this year’s Miami Made comes from choreographer Letty Bassart, whose Good, God, Go was done in a 20-minute sample version at the 2010 festival. Getting a pair of performances at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Carnival, the piece involves artists in multiple disciplines: dancers Lydia Bittner-Baird, Joanne Barrett, Ivy Bennett, Liony Garcia and Ilana Reynolds; Spanish dancers Cristina Masdueno and Leandra la Greca; animator-illustrator Carmen Cothern; actor Achim Nowak; musical advisor Gema Corredera; sculptor Laura Luna, and the drum line from the Hialeah Senior High marching band.
“I was interested in exploring choreographically how to create shared energy in a space with an audience,” says Bassart, who has also won a Knight Arts Challenge grant. “When you have a drum line, it’s almost impossible not to move.”
Bassart, like her fellow Miami Made artists, appreciates the opportunity and meaning of an Arsht showcase for her work.
“It shows faith in the work itself, and also support for local artists. It’s so important that we are being supported alongside the artists who are being brought in. That pairing creates a robust situation,” she says.
The final Miami Made event is a staged reading of the play Two-Merz, a collaborative script by Mark Della Ventura, Gabriel Hammad and David Michael Sirois. All three actor-playwrights will appear in the Alliance Theatre Lab-Arsht Center prodution of Sirois’ Brothers Beckett at the Carnival March 7-24, but first they’ll get a reading of their new dark comedy at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Carnival. They’re all in the reading cast, along with Laura Turnbull, Arielle Hoffman and Julie Daniels.
How do three guys write a play together?
“We’re still figuring that out ourselves,” Della Ventura says. “We’ve always workshopped each other’s plays. We sit in a room and brainstorm. We throw out ideas and laugh.”
Though the play’s subject — terminal cancer — doesn’t sound like a laugh riot, Sirois points out that he has written comedies involving codependency, racism and abortion, among other serious subjects.
“Mark and I use funny people to get into serious subjects. It’s second nature for us to draw out the humor. And once you get the audience on your side, you can do almost anything you want,” he says.
You can see for yourself what these South Florida artists have cooked up without spending a penny. Everything at Miami Made is free. For Extended Stay, just show up; for the others, line up at the Arsht box office the day of each performance to pick up a free ticket.
The come-one-come-all invitation to see what Miami artists are making underscores what Demos-Brown says about Shiller: “He wants to make the Arsht more than a hotel for touring art.”