Classically trained soprano Juliana Snapper’s Miami project delved into the city in an even more personal way. Snapper spent two weeks in April visiting people in small, enclosed work spaces — toll booths, motel lobbies, drawbridge towers— and persuading them to sing with her.
Her efforts, and those of her L.A. cohorts, have been documented by Miami filmmaker David Fenster, who will create a film about their efforts that Cannonball will screen this summer.
“I wanted something that would take me all over the city, put me inside the spaces where people work,” Snapper says. “A project that would let me offer something but also be a real collaboration. … I thought singing together, creating a performance together, that demands immediate and mutual trust and serious play.”
Not surprisingly, it was difficult persuading people to open up to a stranger by asking them to sing in front of a camera.
“God, it was challenging,” Snapper says. “I spent the better part of two weeks driving around Miami at all hours tapping on the windows of drawbridge towers, motel lobbies, peep shows and tollbooths. I knew I must have seemed like a crazy person, but the exchanges I had with people were great.”
She drove back and forth through toll plazas early in the morning, trying to find a time when she could stop long enough to explain herself to tollbooth operators, and even visited Miami Playground, an adult entertainment emporium on Northwest 36th Street.
Most people said no. A few who said yes then didn’t show up for work, leaving their substitutes to confront Snapper and her cameraman.
Among the six who agreed were the operator of a downtown food truck, a man staffing the gate to a parking lot and the chef at Palatino Jamaican restaurant in Wynwood, who, with his wife, a co-worker and a customer, improvised a kind of African-flavored doo-wop.
Snapper doesn’t think she could have done this project in L.A., where “people are so suspicious and there’s so much reality TV,” she says.
“In Miami I felt like everybody had a relationship to music … and that’s what we tapped into instead of being on camera.”