When the coronavirus pandemic began to hit Florida, director Michel Hausmann wanted to create a safe and efficient way to perform.
Nine months later, he and his company achieved this by transforming part of the city of Miami Beach into a theatrical stage, providing a cathartic experience for actors and spectators alike.
7 Deadly Sins
, or the seven deadly sins, raised the curtain in this city located on an island near Miami, and is played in seven acts of ten minutes.
The audience is located outside, and the comedians use the windows of stores closed due to the economic crisis resulting from the pandemic as a stage.
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For spectators, in groups of twelve, Miami's mild climate throughout December makes it possible to sit in the street and follow the play through shop windows, and with headphones.
The world of theater is undergoing a major disruption this year,
" Michel Hausmann told AFP.
Doing theater in a conventional way is like a death sentence
,” he adds, sitting on a café terrace in front of the Colony Theater, an iconic building in Miami's Art Deco architecture.
39-year-old Michel Hausmann is the artistic director and co-founder of Miami New Drama, a non-profit theater company based in the Colony Theater.
The theater itself is located on the vibrant pedestrianized thoroughfare of Lincoln Road.
The question for us was: what do we do, what is our 'business'?
Is it for us to fill rooms with people?
Or to tell stories in person?
The answer was obvious.
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Each act tells a different story: a statue of a politician holding slaves comes to life, an African-American teacher is accused of "cultural appropriation", a couple is trapped by the virus, a former president seeks to take back power, a person delivers a monologue on the pandemic in a fit of fury ...
Place of confinement.
It doesn't matter if he's tall, short, medium-sized.
It's a prison
”, we can hear in this last act, written by playwright Dael Orlandersmith.
The monologue is delivered by Carmen Pelaez.
According to her, the public reacts with great emotion to the return of art in person, because it is what "
keeps us connected to our humanity, in communion with one another
The pandemic "
reminded us how fragile we are and how we need each other,
" said the 49-year-old actress and playwright.
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As the epidemic progressed in Miami, Lincoln Road became more and more sinister as stores closed one by one.
Of the 250 in the street, about sixty have lowered the curtain.
It broke my heart
", confides Michel Hausmann, for whom Lincoln Road is the "
tropical version of the Champs-Élysées
" in Miami.
It was he who conceived the play
7 Deadly Sins
, and who asked seven playwrights to get down to writing the acts, for one or two actors each time.
I told them they were going to be competing with the ambulance sirens, the skateboarder, or the barking dog
," Hausmann laughs.
The play, which premiered on November 27, faced unprecedented challenges in light and sound, not to mention health protocols.
The actors rehearse by videoconference, undergo weekly Covid-19 tests, and enter the stage without contact with anyone.
Those who play together in the play live together, also explained the director.
Little by little, thanks to theater and other artistic experiences, Lincoln Road saw people return in December, and the pedestrian thoroughfare regained some of its old life.