Joseph Adler Brings Gutsy Plays to GableStage

Categories: Culture
In honor of our People Issue, which will hit newsstands and computer screens November 24, Cultist presents "Miami Backstage," where we feature some of the city's behind-the-scenes culture makers. Have suggestions for future profiles? Email with the whos and whys.


Joseph Adler
Joseph Adler may be the saving grace of Miami's theater scene. Without him, we'd be left with theater cliches like Cats. But not at GableStage, where Adler serves as producing artistic director. He is known for his masterful staging and ability to inspire superb performances from his casts. His style is undoubtedly gutsy -- consider the theater's past seasons.

In 2004, he directed Bug, in which a cocktail waitress spirals into insanity fed on the delusions of a Gulf War vet. He staged Pillowman, a play about fictionalized child torture becoming true, in 2006. Our theater critic was so impressed, he said it was "funnier and more powerful than the star-studded Broadway production that set tongues a-wagging in Manhattan the previous year."

Last year, he directed the controversial Blasted, a play that involves bombs, rape, a baby's death, and other brutalities, which resulted in Adler winning a Carbonell Award for Best Director, an honor he's enjoyed nine times. Since he became producing artistic director, GableStage has received 50 Carbonell Awards and 167 Carbonell Nominations.

Born in Brooklyn, Adler moved to South Florida when he was in fifth grade. He eventually studied drama at Carnegie Mellon and film at New York University. He's worked as an independent theater director, filmmaker, and ad man before becoming GableStage's artistic director in 1998.

And if the drawn-out renovation plans for the Coconut Grove Playhouse are ever approved, Adler and the GableStage have been entrusted with restoring the theater to its former glory. Adler recently told the Herald, ''The Coconut Grove Playhouse is the most recognizable theater name in the Southeast. This can truly be a phoenix rising from the ashes.'' Adler is just the man to spearhead that resurrection.

Photo by George Schiavone
Blasted at the GableStage

1. List five things that inspire you.
A great play -- Martin McDonagh
A great book -- Philip Roth
A great film -- Jean Renoir
A great symphony -- Cesar Franck
A great audience -- GableStage
2. What was your last big project?
We closed last season with The Brothers Size by Tarrell Alvin McCraney. It was the first time he directed his own play. It was particularly exciting for us, because Tarell was born and raised in Miami and attended Miami-Dade public schools, eventually graduating from New World.
3. What's your next big project?
Our next production is the first of the 2011-2012 season. It'sthe 2010 Tony Award-winning Red by John Logan about abstract art painter Mark Rothko. I picked this play for the same reason I pick all our plays. They speak to me and resonate with me and stay with me. They are the kind of plays that give people something to think about long after the play is over.

4. Why do you do what you do?
Because my passion for the work continues to grow with each season-- and because I know I can never get it right.

5. What's something you want Miami to know about you?
I'm proud to be a member of the cultural community-- in a city that is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-exciting-- and experiencing incredible growth and maturity.

What's something you don't want Miami to know about you?
Why do you think I would answer that question?
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