“One man. Three women. One night.” Sounds like the makings of a Miami story. In fact, it was the tagline for the film The Night of the Iguana, an adaptation of the Tennessee Williams’ play of the same title that chronicles a single, lascivious night — never, “since Man has known Woman,” has there been “such a night,” says the film trailer’s narrator.
Set in Mexico, the story features an ex-minister who loses his position as a man of the cloth after blaspheming against the Man Upstairs and then goes on to toe the line with a 16-year-old girl.
If this sensual story hasn’t already played out in Miami, it’s about to. Southernmost Situations, a Miami-based “social catalyst” that aims to challenge “boundaries between contemporary art, performance, and the traditional curatorial model,” is staging an adaptation of the Williams’ play, resetting it in Cuba, called la noche i.delicatissima on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday at swampspace (“the un-gallery”) in the Design District. To find out more about the performance, I exchanged emails with co-producers Liz Ferrer and Sebastian Duncan-Portuondo (referred to below as “SS” for “Southernmost Situations”).
First off, can you describe Southernmost Situations’ m.o. and give a bit of background on past performances?
SS: Born out of a spontaneous trip to Key West, Southernmost Situations is a Miami-based social catalyst challenging boundaries between contemporary art, performance, and the traditional curatorial model. Past performances include video art show Situation Range, as part of our residency at Cannonball early last year, and Audio Visual Situation, a curated intervention at The Corner Bar, with performance and visual pieces with an emphasis on sound. Southernmost is structured as an experimental open collective and our first show was at swampspace’s original location.
What inspired you to adapt Night of the Iguana of all Williams’ plays? Why the setting migration from Mexico to Cuba?
SS: Sebastian Duncan-Portuondo, co producer, suggested this play because of its profound exploration of identity, sexuality, and psychology, and its relevance to the cultural history of South Florida. I read the play and fell in love with the story and how it fits Southernmost Situations’ relation to all things tropical. We moved the location from Mexico to Cuba as a quasi repatriation of our personal cultural history and to relate this work to our own understandings of self and place.
Your press release tells us to expect a “near-psychedelic aesthetic” — can you elaborate? How do you achieve that?
SS: Southernmost Situations added a dream-like framework in order to reorient the play. We achieved this through inventive video work including Dylan Romer’s Time Piles, Moisés Aragon’s video work, Cara Despain’s eight millimeter, and Coral Morophologic’s documentation of sea life. Expanding the play to embody the idea of a total artwork, we bring dance, movement theater, sculpture, and surrealist gestures into the scope of performative action.
Chasing Planes by Dylan Romer
The release also mentions a “re-envisioning of a classic Greek chorus” — without asking you to spoil the performance, can you give us a sense of how you re-envisioned the classic Greek chorus?
SS: For the Greek chorus we re-worked characters in this piece, transforming a group of Nazis into a group of tourists that parallel the mood, action, and psychology of the play.
Who else is involved with this performance?
SS: Our actors are friends and members of the art community here. The play includes a huge number of people directly and indirectly, from people who helped us build the set one day to people who have dedicated months of development to this piece.
Can you tell us a bit about Swampspace and why you’re staging this performance there?
SS: Swampspace is an alternative art space, also referred to as the “un-gallery”. It works, like Southernmost Situtaions, as a place for community engagement and as a place that is free for artists to play with new ideas.
To purchase $10 tickets to la noche i.delicatissima, visit Southernmost Situations’ Eventbrite page.