This summer’s Alternative Theatre Festival kicked off with over a dozen alumni taking the stage to give back as dedicated fundraisers for the FIU Theatre Student Scholarship Fund in the opening weekend’s Alumni Showcase.
The Alumni Showcase featured works written and performed by FIU alumni, including a staged reading of the new play “The Education of Jeff Rodriguez” (Thursday), an evening of long form improv with Impromedy (Friday), and a staging of shorts whose reputation rivals that of other shorts festivals in the South Florida area (Saturday).
Participating alumni include actors who are currently working on-stage as well as on screen in Telemundo, Televisa, and Venevision soap operas.
Many thanks goes to all the alumni who took time out of their busy schedules to participate in the Alumni Showcase weekend:
Melissa Almaguer—Melissa is incredibly excited to be a part of the FIU Alumni Event. Many of her close friends and professional peers have come from within FIU’s artistic community. Melissa is Co-Creative Director of White Rose Miami, a company she founded with good friend Ivan R. Lopez. She recently played ‘Michal’ in WRM’s The Pillowman, which she also directed. She has worked with theatre companies such as New Theatre, Mad Cat Theatre Company, The PlayGround Theatre, and The JQ Studio. Next for WRM is their short play festival in July called Miami Time 2 in which several playwrights are selected from a panel to tell short stories that reveal something about Miami. Hope to see you there! www.whiterosemiami.com
Fabián Cárdenas – Fabián was born and raised in Ecuador. His training as an actor began in Quito with the Malayerba ensemble, an internationally renowned, experimental theatre group. He moved to Miami eleven years ago and continued his theatre education at Florida International University and film training at Miami Dade College. In 2005, he toured with the Boston Flamenco Ballet company throughout the eastern and mid-western U.S. performing in plays in English and Spanish – Don Quixote of La Mancha, and Cyrano de Bergerac (Christian). In addition to the tour, and throughout his theatre career, Fabián has had the opportunity to portray many other challenging and diverse characters such as Demetrio in Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Gabriel (Treplev) in a Spanish language adaptation of Chekov’s The Seagull, and Alan in the original work Marea Roja. Fabián is the founder and artistic director of Dream Theatre Productions (DTP), a non-profit company, and Cinema 360, a film and video production organization. Through DTP, he has produced and directed theatrical productions for the past five years. Fabián has also furthered his acting career through his involvement with several innovative new projects such as the short film Chamber Made and skits with the web comedy troupe People Off Color.
Marina Catalán – Marina is a Miami based Chilean actor, who has appeared in Telemundo, Televisa, and Venevision soap operas, as well as commercials and theatre plays for the hispanic and anglo market. She earned her Associate degree in Drama from Miami Dade College and her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Performance from Florida International University (2011). You can view more of her work at www.marinacatalan.com
Rey Dabalsa – Rey earned a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from Florida International University in 1996. During his university years he was prominently involved in the Miami theatre scene both as an actor and playwright. As an actor he’s held prominent roles in plays by everyone from Checkov to Shakespeare to Kushner. As a playwright he’s had three of his short plays produced. Upon graduation, he moved to New York City where he lived and acted for two years. When he made the decision to return to Miami, he immediately entered the education arena as a high school Drama and English teacher. Theatre remains an active part of his life. He is a theatre critic for an online magazine and continues to write plays in his spare time.
Juan Espinosa – Juan graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Acting from FIU Theatre. His FIU acting credits include Romeo & Juliet (Cleric), Metamorphoses (Vertumnus), Balm In Gilead (Martin), Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bottom), Anna In The Tropics (Juan Julian), Proof (Robert) & Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (Hysterium). He also wrote and starred in an original one-man production titled Incorrigible: The Babe Ruth Story. He has been a public school drama teacher for the past five years and is looking forward to educating and inspiring young actors for many years to come. He is infinitely grateful to the FIU Theatre department for exposing him to a rich education, for allowing him to make lifelong friends and most importantly for the unforgettable opportunity to find the love his life, Mabel Mir. Their love story continues to flourish and unravel. It is his ultimate pleasure to once again share the FIU stage with her.
Israel (Izzy) Garcia – Izzy is very proud of his experience with FIU’s Theatre department. In his undergrad years, he studied under Phillip Church, and participated in various productions including NOISES OFF, COMEDY OF ERRORS, and NO EXIT. He currently teaches acting and theatre appreciation at FIU, and has been doing so since 1996. He has made a living as a theatre arts educator working with Miami Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College, FIU as well as other institutions. He has also been professionally active in South Florida theatre, acting at Actor’s Playhouse, Palm Beach Playhouse, and New Theatre. Acting credits also include several small television commercials and “a nice big juicy” speaking role on BURN NOTICE. Awards include The Silver Palm Award for Performance, The New Theatre Award for Best Actor (twice), and nominations for the Carbonell Awards. Most recently, he received the Excellence in Teaching Award at FIU. He is married to Giselle Benitez, his college sweetheart, and they have two very wonderful daughters, Giovanna and Karina. Somehow, he manages to sleep once in a while. He also is the family cook. Just ask his wife.
Mabel Mir—Mabel is excited to be back on the FIU stage with her role in Urges. A theatre graduate from Florida International University, Mabel’s directing credits include Guys and Dolls, The Glass Menagerie, and Sweet Charity. She has performed in several productions including Clue: the Musical, Fame, and Gondoliers. Mabel would like to give special thanks to her friends, family, her students at Hialeah High, and to her loving husband, Juan.
Dawn A.A. Plummer – Dawn (Karla Martel / Improv Ensemble / FIU Alumni Class of ’95) is actually having a huge déjà vu moment now that she is back trodding the boards of her ol’ Alma Mater. Dawn is very excited to be a part of this Alumni Showcase production. While attending FIU she performed in such roles as Puck, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (going on to perform in that play three more times in the course of her life, seriously); Anfisa, the 80 year old servant from Chekhov’s The Three Sisters (one of her favorite roles); Duckling in Our Country’s Good; and she fondly remembers being part of the ensemble in FIU’s performance of Working! a musical about people who, well, work.
Dawn was last seen across the street as Rita in New Theatre’s (NEW) production of Educating Rita, she was also in their 2011 production of A Street Car Named Desire. Since moving back to Miami in 2005, some of Dawn’s other credits include performances in Taming of the Shrew (the NEW), Miami Made Festival at the Adrianne Arsht Center, and the All Kids Included Festival at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center. Due to the miracle of modern technology, she also made an appearance as a guest host on Chick Talk; an internet based talk show produced by Cinema 360, where she played her most challenging role to date – that of herself. Dawn has a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theatre from Florida International University and an Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne.
Nicole Quintana—Nicole graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts with emphasis on Set Design from FIU in 2001. She has flexed her set muscles for such companies as Juggerknot Theatre, New Theater and White Rose Miami. She has been performing alongside her husband and FIU theatre alumni, Ozzie Quintana since 1997 for the improvisation and sketch comedy troupe Impromedy. She has performed locally at the Roxy Theater and New theatre and is a drama teacher at Coral Reef Senior High. She is thankful to be part of the FIU Alternative Theatre Festival Alumni Showcase!
Osvaldo (Ozzie) Quintana—Ozzie is a graduate of the FIU Theatre Department and of the Players Workshop of the Second City in Chicago, IL. He has studied and taught the art of improvisation for 17 years and still inspires and teaches both students and adults around South Florida. Ozzie has been artistic director of the sketch comedy improve troupe Impromedy for 15 years and is the current artistic director for the newly debuted Spontaneous Theatre ProjX. As an actor Ozzie has been seen around the community doing work for Roxy Theatre, White Rose Miami, and New Theatre where he performed in the World Premiere of Fizz. He has also sound designed for Actor’s Playhouse, New Theatre, Juggernot Theatre having designed the world premieres of Quiara Alegría Hudes’s 26 Miles, Michael John Garces’s Land and Audio/Video and Nilo Cruz’s Beauty of the Father. Ozzie recently won the Florida Association of Theatre Educator’s Teacher of the Year for 2012 for his educator’s work at Felix Varela Senior High School. But he wouldn’t be anywhere without his wife Nicole. facebook.com/Impromedy
Francesca Toledo — Francesca is proud to be a 2008 graduate of FIU’s theater program. She is the Associate Director/Actor/Teaching Artist of the JQ Studio in Miami; http://www.thejqstudio.org/. She had her theatre performance directorial debut at the South-Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center for an original piece, First Man/First Woman written by local writer Matthew P. Garcia (Summer 2012). Her recent performance work in the local community was the ‘Happy Hangover Event‘ at Artistic Vibes (Summer 2013). When she is not on-stage, she is the event manager at the South-Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center (SMDCAC). Her favorite credits include Marie from Buchner’s Woyzeck, solo performance of Zoe Valdes’s novel La Nada Cotidiana (The Daily Nothingness), and working with our sister company White Rose Miami.
Thank you to our participating Alumni.
Thank you to our additional Showcase participants:
Alyssa Alayeto—Alyssa is a FIU senior studying English with a minor in visual arts. She aspires to become a high school English teacher and a published writer. Always having had a passionate interest in the arts she has studied various forms, including theatre. As an educator she hopes to inspire her students to find their passions and pursue them wholeheartedly, always mindful of humanity; as a writer she touches those themes on intimate levels always reflecting on the human condition and spirit.
Anthony Mediavilla—Anthony is very excited and grateful for the opportunity to perform in the FIU Theatre Alumni Festival. For years he’s had a passion for acting, although he was limited to solely entertaining family and friends. In the 2013 spring semester he finally had the chance to take his first acting class with Israel Garcia, and he was instantly hooked. With his growing fire and passion he’s worked non-stop to find every acting opportunity possible, including auditioning and being accepted into FIU’s school of theatre. Now a junior, he is working towards his two majors in marketing and theatre along with a minor in economics. Anthony wishes to thank his friends and family for supporting him, his fellow cast members, and especially Israel Garcia for opening the door to theatre for him.
David Neale—David is a current FIU Theatre student and has performed in productions of Die, Mommie, Die! and Beyond Therapy here at FIU. David is thrilled for this opportunity to work alongside two of his own professors, Wayne Robinson and Ivan Lopez, and to take part in tonight’s presentation of The Education of Jeff Rodriguez. He hopes to earn a BFA in performance at FIU and join the ranks of alumni being represented in this showcase. Finally, David would like to thank his mom and dad for their unconditional love and support, which has encouraged him to pursue his passion for this crazy thing we call theatre.
Wayne E. Robinson, Jr. — (FIU Theatre Faculty) Wayne is a graduate of Phillips Academy (Andover), Northwestern University, The National Theatre Conservatory and American Conservatory Theatre (STC). After many years as an actor and director, he joined the theatre faculty at FIU where he is currently an Associate Professor and teaches Acting, Directing, and Theatre Movement. His theatre career, which includes acting and directing in over 60 productions, has taken him to Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles and now Miami. At FIU, he has directed Eleemosynary, The Rose Tattoo, All in the Timing, Talking With…, Sylvia, 5th of July, The House of Blue Leaves, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Hot L Baltimore, As You Like It, Balm in Gilead, Anna in the Tropics, Electricidad, Pericles and the Musicals Company, Gypsy, and Hair. In South Florida, professional projects include directing Line, All in the Timing, and Frag, as well as Acting in Betrayal, Talley’s Folly, King Lear, Never the Sinner, The House of Seven Gables, Electra, Wit, The Weir, Hamlet, Othello, and Twelfth Night.
Eric Rodriguez— (FIU Theatre Student)
Veronica Salgueiro — Veronica is a sophomore Theatre and Advertising major at the University of Florida, and a former student of Israel Garcia. Previous UF credits include: Measure for Measure and Dido and Aneas. Veronica is thrilled to be a part of the FIU Theare Alumni Festival and would like to thank Israel Garcia for the opportunity as well as her family, friends and boyfriend for their support!
Samuel (Sam) Umoh – Born in London, England and raised in Atlanta, GA, Sam saw different places and many different people while growing up. His interest in various cultures and people lead to his first foray into acting. He enjoyed it so much that he continued studying and acting on stage until he received a degree from Barry University’s Acting Program. His driving force is “finding work that scares me and pushes me to go deeper and be more truthful in expressing the lives of others”. He would like to thank the writer Rey Dabalsa, Izzy Garcia and FIU for the opportunity to be a part of this project.