The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
By Jackie Rivera, The Project [theatre]
Holy excel spreadsheets, reality tv, and rainclouds, Batman! Is it March already?? February for The Project [theatre] was a blink… 4 weeks where, we devised a show completely through improvisation, constructed and stuck to a strict budget, thwarted what could have been a natural disaster, and came out way on top.
That is to say, thanks to some heavy hitters at The Adrienne Arsht Center, who trusted us with a challenge like two performances at the newly renovated Riviera South Beach Hotel, to kick off Miami Made 2013.
Now, up until February 18th, 2013 our collective knowledge of improvisation amounted to the first semester of college, a plethora of amazon.com purchases, and the obligatory, albeit supportive-at-the-time viewing of an ex lover's improv troupe gigs. We managed to do ourselves a huge favor by casting a tight knit band of Latin clowns. We did our level best to at least appear like we knew what we were doing and our collective aptitude grew day by day, each rehearsal informing the next, it was equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. If we learned anything from Beer & Cigs: LA, it was to provide a safe space to create. Bingo-bango… we had ourselves a story to tell.
The Knight Foundation grant for us is like one of those creepy Russian dolls- the ones that stack. It’s like the benefits don’t stop…thanks to the Knight business skills we’ve acquired and a bit of our own plucky resourcefulness, we were able to create a realistic budget and completely adhere to it.
This entire experience was like a Project [theatre] boot camp that we didn’t even plan but was somehow already in progress. Verbiage has always been important to us. By calling our shows “projects” it helps keep us grounded and dedicated to the stories we want to tell. Research can be scary, like a 7th grade science project, but it can also be super fun like watching a marathon of awful reality tv shows, improv and sketch comedy. If we can’t fully grasp a subject, then we have no business presenting it.
The moment we stepped into our playing space, a 25 by 27 foot Cuban cigar bar…outside…in tropical Miami, the curtain rose on this weeklong farce inside a farce. All to be topped off with two rain scares on our two performance schedule, luckily false for opening night…but oh, how the heavens opened to shower upon us blessings, I’m sure, but it felt a lot like a strong drizzle, strong enough to send our most important patrons to seek shelter. Luckily, “crisis” is The Project [theatre]’s middle name! So we moved the entire production into the currently functional lobby of the hotel. It was a magical theater moment, where the audience and artists banded together for the sole purpose of the show…going on. It was a landmark moment that defined us through action. Thank you to those who were there to see our company thrive, and to those who missed it…who knows, it might very likely mount again. Keep your wits about you.