“The Cherry Orchard” at MBUS is a Success!


On Friday, May 22nd, What-If-Works – in association with the Roxy Theatre Group, the Barnacle Historic State Park, Broward Historical Society, Homestead Center for the Arts, Phil’s Berry Farm, Pérez Museum of Miami, and the FIU College of Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) – showcased Anton Chekhov’s classic The Cherry Orchard at CARTA Miami Beach Urban Studios. The play had been running in different venues throughout the month of May and made a last stop at the 420 Lincoln Road space.

19th-century Russia and 21st-century Miami coalesce through the integration of images from Absence of Place, a collection of photographic images recorded by environmental artist/activist Xavier Cortada and published through the Miami Herald depicting spaces and places in Miami that are no more. These were used with permission and courtesy of Pérez Art Museum Miami. Triggered by the increasing number of historic homes falling prey to the bulldozer, and with many more buildings under threat of demolition, The Cherry Orchard examines the value of home, identity, history, and memory. The story follows Lopakhin, a once indentured serf who returns to the estate a self-made man to buy and dramatically change forever the landscape of his roots. The cast featured Margaret Ricke as Madam Renevsky, Zack Myers as Lopahkin, and FIU Theatre majors and alumni Pia Vicioso-Vila, Charles Sothers, Natalie Brenes, David Neale, Sofia Sassone, Allyn Anthony, Gabriel Bonilla, Andrea Bovino, AJ Ruiz, and Quillian Minot. The play was directed by FIU Theatre Department Chair Phillip M. Church. Costumes were made by Marina Pareja, the set by Ashley Joseph, and the lighting and sound by Anton Church.

Phillip Church enjoyed experiencing the dynamic that resulted from placing a play performance in the context of an art gallery. “Gallery spaces can really come alive with theatre/literary and/or dance performance,” he said. “It is significant that good literature (I reference Anton Chekhov specifically here) be surrounded by visual art. They are both accomplices seeking the same human expression. I am utterly surprised that not more galleries explore performance beyond ‘performance art.'”

What-If-Works (WTW) is a community-engaged, post-graduate company dedicated to providing artists in theatre, film, and music a creative bridge between the academic environment and the professional world while championing the arts for social change. Preservation of neighborhood, personal, and cultural history is an issue WIW passionately embraces. Public forums are offered at each venue in which the company produces. All WIW productions support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS through a donation collection at each performance helping artists in urgent need. For further information, contact Phillip M. Church (whatifworks@gmail.com or #305 – 586 – 3919) or Isabel Betancourt (isabelbetanc@gmail.com or #786 – 317 – 9857.

“The scope of What-If-Works’s mission . . . is educational, with a tight focus on socially responsible projects that can make a difference in the community,” said Church. “[It presents t]heatre [with] a purpose. It is only about the work. Our projects are carefully selected . . . we seek the need and then find ways of serving that need through theatre, film and music.”

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