In Miami Beach, live theater returns — in vacant storefronts

NEW YORK (AP) — This fall, the seven deadly sins will be found all along an iconic Miami Beach thoroughfare — but they’ll be socially distanced, thankfully.

Miami New Drama plans to offer short new plays about each of the sins in seven vacant storefronts along Lincoln Road as part of a project called “7 Deadly Sins — Temptation in the Magic City.”

Quipped Dan Gelber, mayor of Miami Beach: “Never have the seven deadly sins been more welcome.”

The plays — exploring lust, greed, envy, wrath, sloth, gluttony and pride — will be written Hilary Bettis, Nilo Cruz, Moisés Kaufman, Rogelio Martinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Carmen Pelaez and Aurin Squire.

The plays will be in rotation in November and December as groups of 10 socially-distanced theatergoers at a time listen through headphones outside as a few actors perform the works inside the stores.

“This pandemic has shown in stark light the fragility of our world,” said Miami New Drama Artistic Director Michel Hausmann. “But theater has survived for thousands of years and through many world catastrophes. We must find new ways to present live theatre until we can gather indoors again.”

The city has been allowing cultural institutions and new retail shops to find temporary homes on Lincoln Road, hoping to boost business and fill vacancies along one of the most expensive retail streets in the nation. The Miami City Ballet recently took over a vacant storefront.

The move by Miami New Drama is just the latest attempt by theatermakers to offer their art to the public despite the ongoing pandemic, which has stuttered traditional theater venues.

The Public Theater in New York City has turned to audio plays, while the Vineyard Theatre plans digital and outdoor productions. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is turning to concerts in front of socially-distant audiences.

Some companies are offering drive-in productions, the company Theatre For One has gone digital and the Barrington Stage Company produced a one-man show. The Broadway ready musical “Diana” is being readied for a Netflix broadcast.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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