A year ago, Miami New Drama went viral.
The theater’s marquee on Lincoln Road proclaimed: “COLONY THEATRE PROUDLY REPRESENTS ARTISTS FROM SH!THOLE COUNTRIES.”
Miami New Drama’s bold, persistent responses to today’s political climate extends from the marquee, past the theater’s Art Deco lobby, and onto the stage of the Colony Theatre.
For Michel Hausmann, Miami New Drama founder and artistic director, that message of representation and diversity is what informs the theater’s day-to-day approach to storytelling.
“We are successful because we embrace our immigrant nature. We don’t hide it. We don’t try to pass it off. We embrace it, and we say this is who we are, and this is who Miami is as well,” Hausmann explained. “Miami speaks with an accent.”
The three-year-old theatre company is one of the fastest-growing cultural institutions in South Florida.
The 417-seat theater hosts four shows a season, plus a Spanish-only season from June through September. Its productions feature storylines straight from the DNA of Miami: “One Night in Miami” told the story of the fight that put boxing champ Muhammad Ali (then still known as Cassius Clay) on the map and yet was unable to stay in Miami Beach because of Jim Crow-era segregation laws. The upcoming world premiere of “FAKE” features the work of Cuban-American playwright and Miami native Carmen Pelaez. The show offers a glimpse into the high-stakes world of art dealing, Cuban politics, and a journey for the truth.
“We have proven that the way to grow the theater community here is by doing work … that reflects what the city looks like,” Hausmann said.
Hausmann, an immigrant from Venezuela, received his green card back in 2002 when his father, a Harvard professor at the time, received his.
He left Venezuela after a 2010 tear-gas attack during a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” a musical he was directing. While it is not known exactly who was behind the attack, it came after a confrontation with the Venezuelan government over a sponsorship agreement and the theater company’s inability to place advertisements in publications that were critical of the Hugo Chavez regime.
After the attack, Hausmann came to the U.S. and earned a master of fine arts in theater directing from Columbia University. Hausmann and his family then set their sights on Miami.
“I got very excited about the idea of coming to Miami and creating a theater that is as multicultural and multilingual and dynamic as the city of Miami.”
Hausmann received his citizenship on the same day the city approved Miami New Drama’s management of the Colony Theatre.
Miami New Drama’s compelling productions will continue to spark conversation in the community. As will its marquee–and its front door. When you walk into the Colony Theatre, you’ll see an Immigrant Powered sticker — signaling to the audience that the theater and Miami New Drama are committed to empowering and celebrating local, immigrant-powered businesses and organizations.
“At the end of the day, I am in the business of narrating because theater is about storytelling, and who gets to tell the story is important,” Hausmann said. “We weren’t born in an American family; we decided to be Americans. That’s kinda amazing.”