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Little Havana’s Tower Hotel transforms into a giant stage for a new theater series

Written by
Jackie Gutierrez-Jones

You can study the rapidly changing skyline for clues of Miami’s evolution, but what do the interior of the buildings themselves reveal about a city? That’s the focus of Miami Motel Stories, a real-time immersive theater experience taking place inside hotels and motels in developing neighborhoods.

The three-part series launches on October 27 at Little Havana’s Tower Hotel (1450 SW 7th St), former stomping grounds of Billie Holiday and other jazz legends. The collaborative project is the brainchild of Juggerknot Theatre Company (and made possible by a Knight Foundation grant). It brings together writers and real estate developers of Barlington Group—which has been fiercely committed to revitalizing Little Havana since 2004—to tell the story of Miami’s past, present and future. The result: an actor-led walk through rooms in which stories of migration, segregation, love and family unfold.

Penning the first production is local playwright Juan C. Sanchez, who was born and raised in the area. “I’m fascinated by Little Havana’s history, especially what it’s been to people of different cultures through time,” he says. Sanchez, as well as playwrights of future untitled productions, is working with HistoryMiami Museum to conduct interviews and sift through archives to better understand the spaces he will explore through his play.

“We often hear that there is a lack of artistic space in Miami; I want to disrupt this belief with Miami Motel Stories,” says Tanya Bravo, founder and artistic director of Juggerknot Theatre Company. “There are stories to be told about our city, and we can tell them anywhere—even in a motel room. We just need to look at space differently.”

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