- Faith & Family
NE 2nd Avenue is a play about eight, very different characters — from a small-time Puerto Rican drug dealer and a Rasta man to a Black teen trying to find his way in the big city. Teo Castellanos, who turns 50 next week, is the writer of and performer in this one-man play that garnered a host of awards when it debuted 10 years ago, including the prestigious Fringe First Award at Edinburgh during its annual festival. It also catapulted the Puerto Rican-born, Miami-raised Castellanos to international acclaim. His one-man show returns to the Arsht Center on Thursday, Jan. 19th and runs through the 21st as part of the Center’s 2012 Theater Up Close season.
“I think the success of the play is due to its universality — it’s about different Miami characters but they are the kinds of folks that all of us probably see everyday,” he said. “Victor Hugo said, ‘Speak of your village and you speak universally.’ The play does just that. It’s a Miami-Dade story but the characters could easily be from just about anywhere else in the world where an immigrant community exists.”
Why did he name his play NE 2nd Avenue? Castellanos says it all started with a ride in a mini-van.
“A Haitian jitney driver was the impetus for the play and NE 2nd Avenue is a street that reflects great diversity within this city,” he said. “There are so many interests and cultures and subcultures that one can experience along that street. It’s become even more diverse with the rise of the Wynwood District and the spinoffs in terms of art galleries, shows and fairs that have arisen, particularly with the growing popularity of Art Basel. It’s also become one of the largest graffiti art areas in the world and the art just gets better and better.”
The celebrated playwright also points to the Little Haiti Cultural Center, Edouard Duval-Carrié who founded the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance and Liberi Mapou Bookstore as signs that Little Haiti is becoming an important fixture in the City of Miami.
“I wrote the play in the hopes that we will find our commonality at the deepest roots and spiritual highest — I hope when we reach across racial and ethnic boundaries we will begin to enjoy the diversity and differences of others.”
For more info go to www.arshtcenter.org.
By D. Kevin McNeir