Fiction or Reality? Which is the more real – stage, screen or life? This is the question being raised by What if Works’ latest production of Shakespeare’s “Othello”. In association with GableStage What if Works explores the mediums of stage and screen examining the question of whether art imitates life or life imitates art. In a world that has brought the two mediums together through virtual reality, reality TV shows and video games, “Othello” explores the stage life as “reality” contrasted with the fixed reality of film. So where does that leave the reality of life itself? These and other questions concerning truth and fiction are presented to young audiences in a compellingly dramatic production.
As it continued to develop its innovative, multimedia “dramatic curation” WIW turned to Homestead’s Lamplighter Writers Circle to stage seven short stories titled “Lamplighter’s Tales”. The stories offered an array of eclectic and endearing characters including a teenager battling the injustices of an intractable teacher, a gun-wielding backyard lychee owner, a sixty-five-year-old retiree, determined to master the unicycle and an equivocal exchange between husband and wife sharing the delicate ambiguity that lies beneath a war-torn mind. “Lamplighter’s Tales” delivered its multigenerational audiences a theatre experience filled with thought-provoking reflection and giddy delight.
Once again WIW has partnered with Miami’s award-winning theatre, GableStage by staging the 2022 Miami Dade County schools Shakespeare tour “King Lear”. Taking an alternative approach to a play that continues to resonate throughout the ages, the production examines the world of a slick yet power-hungry autocrat, disarmed and humbled by the pain of eviction as Lear, “King of Real Estate”, is stripped of his wealth and dignity by two avenging daughters. Homeless and adrift in an unforgiving, urban wasteland Lear slowly recognizes the true value of humanity and, by extension a capacity for compassion. The tragedy? Lear learns his lesson far too late to secure for himself spiritual redemption.
TRIBUTE TO UKRAINE
In aid of the women and children of the Ukrainian war. History, art and the human heart join forces on
stage as What if Works and Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab together with the Roxy Group present a
theatrical curation, merging drama, poetry, music, dance and video in solidarity for the people of
Ukraine. Original monologues and scenes with poetry by Lyudmyla Khersonska, Olga Livshin, Julia
Dasbach and Miami Dade Poet Laureate Richard Blanco. This is the moment when theatre and the
humanities go beyond the conversation by using their respective platforms to support change. “Tribute
to Ukraine!” is WIW’s way of answering the desperate call for humanitarian aid for the women and
children of war. We hope others in the community will join our efforts with an equal sense of urgency.
All proceeds to benefit the Ukraine TrustChain whose work funds evacuations and humanitarian aid in
Ukraine. Please see link for more information.
GELI & UNCLE ALF
“Geli and Uncle Alf” is a solo performance work that explores a little-known relationship between Adolf Hitler and Angelika ‘Geli’ Raubal, his first niece and one true love. Slowly drawn into a tender obsession with her uncle Alf, Geli, a spirited young woman, finds herself locked in a state of emotional dependency. The Story of Geli’s life is not lost on anyone today. Geli was a young girl caught up in a toxic relationship who became victim to sexual violence. This is a common life lived too often in our own society. What makes her story so compelling is its amplification by her relationship with the infamous Adolf Hitler.
What if Works explores its first “dramatic curation” with Baseball Dreams, a two-part short story by Cuban-American novelist Ana Menendez. Part I takes place in 1935 as The Daughter recalls her father at the age of nine and his relentless dream of becoming a Joe DiMaggio of the Cuban National League. Unable to accept his own failings the Boy’s dream breaks apart, the consequences of which lead to unimaginable future outcomes. Part II flashes forward to 1965 in which the Boy’s nine-year old Daughter and her Mother, wait patiently by the seashore for his visit. They become unwitting spectators to the antics of a competitive pitching battle. After watching the thrills, spills generated by the game the Girl is consumed with a dream that one day she, like the boys, will be equal and able to play the same game.
How biographical were Shakespeare's plays? This is a leading question that What if Works explored in its production of “akaHamlet”. Adapted & directed by Phillip M. Church. In association with GableStage “aka Hamlet” examines the parallels lives of Shakespeare and his fictional character, Hamlet. The production was seen by over 12,000 students throughout Miami Dade County.
A powerful work featuring a forum-styled theatre experience for audiences bringing together high school students, professional performers, educators, parents, law enforcement and civic leaders together to engage in an updated version of Shakespeare's classic tale, Romeo & Juliet, while addressing gun violence, parental control, and drug abuse. What if Works is currently working on interstate collaborations with high schools and colleges in Chicago, Denver, Washington and New York in which the Miami Latino Capulet family will meet the Montague hosting city Montagues. Look out for more information as this project develops in the future.
TAMING OF THE SHREW
In the age of the #metoo movement is it still possible to produce some of Shakespeare's plays which are, by most standards, and certainly those of the Elizabethans, unequivocally chauvinistic at best? The best way to find out is to take the plays to young people and open it up for discussion. By presenting “The Taming of The Shrew” in the style of commedia What if Works, in association with GableStage uses Shakespeare’s play to debate such issues as the objectification of women, finding new ways to start very important conversations amongst young audiences.
WIW’s 2017 partnership with GableStage and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” reduced the play to fifty-minutes, each of the seven actors serving as a moderator to link absent scenes from their character’s perspective. Through hilarious and oftentimes sober action the adaptation examined the issues of climate change and consumerism as the bedraggled, shipwrecked party attempted to survive on Prospero’s “magical” island without the aid of social media and technology. As was hoped, they and their audiences found magic of a more compelling kind.
THE BELLE of AMHERST
In conjunction with “The Emily Project”, WIW produced the celebrated one-person play by William Luce, “The Belle of Amherst”. While “The Emily Project” offered the community a hands-on educational opportunity to explore poetry “The Belle of Amherst” shared the often complex and dramatic life of one of America’s greatest poets. The production was presented in libraries, a church, and a women’s club.
What if Works began its partnership with award-winning Equity company, GableStage in 2015 and has already produced five of its annual Shakespeare school’s tours casting alumni actors from Florida International University’s Department of Theatre. Its first tour, Julius Caesar presented a thrilling, techno-driven concept exposing the world of contemporary warfare. Prompted by the historic graduation of two female rangers from West Point, Cassius became Cassia giving rise to many questions about female leadership in the army.
HOLOCAUST: a living journey book
“Holocaust: a living journey-book” set out to explore the meaning of memory and memorial in society. A “dramatic curation” of drama, song, dance and survivor testimonials created a thread between the poems of Nobel Prize winner Nelly Sachs. Featuring cello and clarinet solos by Jason Calloway, (Amernet String Quartet) and clarinetist, Carla Cao, (New World School of the Arts) newsreel and archival footage delivered the productions’ most devastating reminder of what man must never ever repeat.
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST
In its first co-production with the Homestead Center for the Arts What if Works brought South Florida an evening of spellbinding theater. Presented at South Miami’s Artistic Vibes and at the Homestead Women’s Club these eclectic environments and audiences allowed the play to speak in very different ways about mental illness and the deep-seated need for a maternal presence in our lives.
In response to a threat of two historic homes in Coconut Grove being razed and a defiant protest by neighbors confronting the bulldozers What if Works mounted a production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” drawing attention to the issue of Miami’s diminishing history. The production’s minimalist setting was staged at selected sites using facades of historic relevance as backdrops to serve as a reminder of the heavy price we pay when history is erased from sight and memories have nothing with which to associate.
HOW IT HANGS
Written by: Grace McKeaney Directed by: Chelsea Wallach
In 2009 Grace McKeaney's comic one act play, “How it Hangs” marked the inauguration of What if Works as a post-graduate, community engaged company in Miami. Featuring the lives of four women in desperate need of support from "The Temporary Shelter for Battered Women Past and Present Looking to Get Better in Lusk, Wyoming". The play was produced to raise awareness and support for No More Tears, a social service group in Plantation, Florida, caring for the needs of over two-hundred abused women both locally and those fleeing abusive situations from all parts of the globe.
BODY & SOLD
Written by: Deborah Fortson
In collaboration with Tempest Productions What if Works produced “Body & Sold”, a docudrama by Boston playwright Deborah Fortson examining the plight of five runaway trafficking victims. Beginning as a dramatized stage reading at Florida International University, What if Works developed a staged production in collaboration with McKinley Tech High School in Washington DC to mark Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The production was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. followed by performances in the UK at Solent Southampton University and the Rose Theatre Kingston, London in 2011.
NUTCRACKER....with strings attached
“The Nutcracker…with strings attached” was a unique experience bringing two actors, four
dancers and a string quartet together to relive ET Hoffman’s “The Nutcracker” ballet into a theatre adaptation. Through a county-wide competition, backdrops from fifteen middle school art students were projected behind the action. With the Amernet String Quartet center stage “The Nutcracker…with strings attached!” has increased awareness toward the need for early education raising funds for the Children’s Movement of Florida, Miami Children’s Hospital and Roxy Theatre Group.
EMERGING ARTISTS - HAVANA NIGHTS
What if Works offers post-graduates and continuing students the opportunity to earn their scholarship by developing their own recitals. Proceeds from the recitals go directly to the artists’ scholarship fund.
In 2008 WIW had the privilege of producing Carly Simon’s only opera, the one-act “Romulus Hunt” at the Olympia Theatre in downtown Miami. The production was a fundraiser for CHARLEE Homes for Children with the opera’s theme being family separation. While Romulus fails to bring his parents back together through the help of a Rastafarian imaginary friend his efforts succeed in strengthening mutual respect between parents and child. WIW is currently developing plans to adapt “Romulus Hunt” into a film.
HANNAH & GRETCHEN
Directed by Anton Church,
Winner of Best Actor - Pia Vila, Best Ensemble
Hannah and Gretchen begin their workday as they typically do, though they have been stressed over their future in the office. A letter suddenly appears, addressed to Gretchen, with no explanation. With a tendency toward drama, Gretchen is instantly taken with the idea of following the trail that has been left for them. After some convincing, Hannah agrees. Experiencing odd coworkers and puzzling locations, the two begin to unfold the mystery of these suspicious notes.
Written by Margaret Wise Brown
Adapted by Anton Church
This short film is a cinematic adaptation of the famous children's book Goodnight Moon. Written by Margaret Wise Brown in 1947, the book is now sold over 87 million copies worldwide.
CONDITIONS OF SECRECY
In response to the alarming rise of AIDS in high schools during the late 1980’s WIW produced its first feature-length film as a way to help increase awareness towards the disease. “Conditions of Secrecy” explores the life of a young college baseball player, unable to cope with the diagnosis of AIDS. The film stars TV and screen actor Danny Pino in his graduation year from Florida International University. With supervision from medical specialists from the Wellness Center at Florida International University and with the cooperation of the FIU coach Danny Price and the FIU Baseball team “Conditions of Secrecy” was sponsored by Blockbuster and featured in all its South Florida stores. The film was distributed through NIMCO to schools and clinics across the country.
LONERS NOT LOSERS
WIW’s second film was made possible through the support of the Audrey Love Foundation. “Loners Not Losers” is a twenty-minute MTV-styled piece, written and performed by Armando Tranqulino. The film conveys the story of a young freshman newly arrived at college and the overwhelming feeling of change and alienation. She finally discovers refuge in a support group on campus and is able to begin to rely upon her own sense of worth.
THE EMILY PROJECT
In October 2018 Emily Dickinson and her brother Austin visited thirteen middle schools throughout Miami Dade County to share Emily’s poetry and mentor poetry writing. One-hundred and twenty submissions were reviewed by graduates in poetry from the Creative Writing program at Florida International University, with the final thirteen selected by Richard Blanco, Denise Duhamel and Ana Menendez. Poems were based on the themes of “Friendship”, “Trust” and Truth” Spoken word, rap and hip-hop, native languages and rhymed or unrhymed verse were all encouraged. Thirteen middle school students shared in public their fourteen-line sonnets at a final “Dickinson’s Young Poets Celebration.”
EMERGING FILMMAKER WORKSHOP
During the summer of 2018, through the generous support of the Homestead Center for the Arts and in collaboration with the Seminole Theatre and Ear Responsible Studios, WIW conducted a four-week “Emerging Moviemaker Workshop” for at-risk youth in the South Dade/Homestead area. Four graduate interns from FIU’s Department of Theatre passed on their own moviemaking experience to twenty-two youths, each focused on the basics of camera direction, storyboarding, screenwriting, producing and acting. A screening of their final five-minute projects at the Seminole Theatre produced jaw-dropping responses from the audience!
Written & Directed by Anton Church
A young teacher is faced with her toughest decision- to continue to chase what she loves or to find a new path that leads to greater stability.