RAW: Natural Born Artists Showcase "Scope" at LMNT

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Photo by Fabian Suarez
The independent arts organization, RAW: Natural Born Artists, prides itself on being for artists by artists. With the art season ready to start, they've stepped up their international presence with numerous shows occurring in tandem this week across the globe.

All the major art hubs in their domain -- the U.S., Canada, Australia and the UK -- will showcase handpicked talent from the fields of film, fashion, music, visual art, hair and makeup, photography and more. With a mission statement of providing independent artists in the first decade of their careers with the "tools, resources and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity," RAW has their hands full.

Their season runs from February through October and culminates with an awards ceremony in January in Hollywood where the balloting and judging is comprised of a panel, members of the artistic community, and the public. As an artists for artists operation, this ultimately comes down to a healthy level of competition between themselves in their chosen fields.

See also: Best Arts Collective Miami 2012 - RAW: Natural Born Artists

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Mothers and Sons at GableStage: Theater as Gestalt Therapy

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Photo by George Schiavone
Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons, which opened last weekend at GableStage, is a profound inquiry into the human condition, delivered in a sweepingly emotional experience that fully justifies the art form. It's been far too long since I left an auditorium as teary, speechless, and physically affected. This production is why theater exists.

The play is set in an enviable Central Park apartment -- a living room designed by Lyle Baskin that teems with the trappings of a bourgeois nuclear family. Travel trinkets share bookshelf space with difficult tomes, and children's toys are piled into a tidy silo. Significant memories are framed on hallway walls and tucked away in shoeboxes. This is where Cal (Michael McKeever), an affluent money manager, lives with his writer husband Will (Jeremiah Musgrove) and their son Bud (either Gabe Sklar or Max Leifman).

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Exile Books Pop-Up Premieres Saturday at Locust Projects

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Photo by Augusto Mendoza
Amanda Keeley has always found inspiration in artist's books. Now, the 2014 Knights Art Challenge finalist is readying her longtime project, Exile Books, for its Miami debut this weekend at Locust Projects. Exile Books is a traveling pop-up store installation dedicated to selling, supporting, and promoting publications produced by artists.

For the premiere pop-up, Keeley collaborated with New York painter Sarah Crowner, who has created a large installation that references the history of stage and set design, with Keeley sourcing materials about set design, theater, and dance performance for the location. The opening reception on Saturday also will feature the limited-edition monoprint of a theatrical playbill, created by Keeley and Crowner, that will be available for purchase. Books that inspired Crowner, like periodicals from the Art Brut movement, will be part of Exile's selection, in addition to three titles by the artist.

See also: Knights Arts Challenge Finalist Amanda Keeley Plans to Stage Pop-up Bookstores

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Dying City: Still-Relevant Wartime Drama

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Christian Vandepas as identical twins Peter and Craig, and Valentina Izarra as Kelly.
Ground Up and Rising, the minimalist Miami theater company, is still at war. Two months after its production of Bill Cain's 9 Circles dramatized the hellish fallout of an American soldier's unspeakable war crimes in Iraq, the company remains ensconced in the psychological shrapnel of combat.

This weekend, Ground Up opens Dying City, Christopher Shinn's time-jumping domestic drama from 2006. It begins with war widow Kelly (Valentina Izarra) receiving a surprise visit from Peter, the identical twin brother of her late husband, Craig, who committed suicide under mysterious circumstances (both brothers are played by Christian Vandepas). Their uncomfortable discussions trigger flashbacks to Kelly's final night with Craig. As past and present commingle, defenses fall, secrets are unearthed, and the horrific, transformative nature of war is scrutinized. (As usual, audiences can attend free outdoor preview performances of Dying City this weekend at Miami Beach Botanical Garden before the show transfers to its indoor home at Artistic Vibes.)

See also: In 9 Circles, a Criminal Soldier Heads for Hell

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Florida Burlesque Festival To Bring International Striptease Artists to South Florida (NSFW)

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Photo by Ian Witlen
Burlesque is not quite like your typical stripping. It's more performance art done scantily clad and heavy on the sex appeal. So, like, classy strippers who keep some clothes on.

Though modern audiences often associate burlesque with hot ladies like Bettie Page, Dita Von Teese, and sadly, the movie Burlesque starring Christina Aguilera and Cher, the art form has origins in Vaudeville variety shows dating back hundreds of years. Local burlesque performer Bambi La Fleur will bring both sexy and humor back with the Florida Burlesque Festival next month.

See also: Circ X Seeks A "Kickstart" To Make Regular Burlesque Show At Fillmore A Reality

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Centralia, Mad Cat's Latest Tragicomedy, Struggles to Find Its Balance

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Karelle Levy
The real-life mining community of Centralia, Pennsylvania, has been devastated by an underground coal fire since the early '60s. The monoxide-laden disaster has polluted the town's air and prompted a massive government-funded relocation of its citizenry. But a few defiant souls remain living in their hometown--fewer than 10, currently--and their stories inspired Centralia, an offbeat play-cum-variety show developed by Europe's Superbolt Theatre and enjoying its U.S. premiere courtesy of Mad Cat Theatre Company.

Centralia is structured as an amateur theater piece staged by Centralia's three remaining inhabitants, who have decided to tell their stories--and their town's story--through the performing arts, integrating dance, music, humor, and puppet theatre. There isn't much plot to speak of; Centralia is an episodic meander divided into more than a dozen chapters, some of them illuminating different facets of Centralian life while others struggle to find their purpose.

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Isabella Rossellini Will Stage "Green Pornos" Live at the Fillmore Miami Beach

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Isabella Rossellini is bringing her quirky nature lectures focused on the sexual habits of animals she calls "Green Pornos" to Miami Beach.

In her shorts, which began online for the Sundance Channel, the former-model-turned-actress blends deep insights on nature with a cheeky humor and a lo-fi Michel Gondry aesthetic. They are both laugh-out-loud ridiculous but still profoundly ecologically consciousness with a dash of penetrating poetry. She's like Werner Herzog with a sense of humor.

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H2Ombre: Arsht Offers Experiential Theater at Its Strangest and Wettest

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Alejandro Ferrer
The liquid onslaught poured forth long before audiences entered the Arsht Center for H2Ombre this past weekend. Torrential rains slowed the flow of spectators into this undeniably unique prooduction. But they finally arrived to find a combination platter that's equal parts rave, 3D movie, and modern dance show.

After passing through the so-called "Bubble Lounge" offering specialty drinks, audiences entered an unfamiliar Ziff Opera House where most of the chairs have been removed. Theatergoers were split between an open dance floor and a VIP area one level up.

During the show, all notions of traditional theater decorum disappear. On opening night, many attendees shot smartphone videos, waved rainbow-colored glow sticks they received upon entry, and donned neon green plastic glasses frames that rendered everything slightly trippy. Servers interrupted the show once to take drink orders, and again to make customers pay, which was distracting--less like a night at the theater than a night at the Improv. Then again, patrons could also wander the two rooms of H2Ombre at will, which proved unusually liberating. Audience interaction and freedom is central to the show's conceit, and so is commerce: You exit through a gift kiosk.

See also: H2Ombre at the Arsht Center: A Waterlogged Theater Experience Like No Other

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Copperbridge Foundation Brings Cuban Artists to Miami Stages

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Geo Darder gets down with the culture in Cuba.
Here in Miami, more than in any other city in America, an encounter with Cuban culture is akin to a return to the roots. No matter whether it's dance or art, music or theater, it's the heritage itself that seems to matter most, with the artistic and entertainment elements often affirming a personal connection.

That may seem like a broad-based generalization, but given Miami's population and its sizeable Cuban quotient, there's no denying its accuracy. It's especially true in the case of Geo Darder, the founder and artistic director of the Copperbridge Foundation, an artistic initiative he and a group of partners launched four years ago as a means of facilitating the exhibition and interpretation of artistic works from the Caribbean, Africa, North and South America, and Cuba in particular.

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Summer Shorts at the Arsht: A Mixed Bag of Mind-Controlling Cats and Grieving Fathers

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George Schiavone
Rather than construct a standard-issue theater review for an evening of mirth and brevity that is always anything but standard-issue, I decided to trek through City Theatre's 19th edition of Summer Shorts play by play, in the order in which they are presented. Liberated from the need to excavate overlapping themes and through-lines from this jumbled theatrical stocking, I've scored each piece on its individual merits and demerits, assigning a point value to each production out of a maximum possible ten. The conclusions take into account both the source material and the production quality, beginning with:

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