Last week I was lamenting that we need to do a better job of documenting and archiving the performing arts in South Florida. As though in answer to my prayers, I met with Dr. Lilian Manzor, associate professor of foreign languages and literature at the University of Miami and — more to my point — director of the Cuban Theater Digital Archives. That’s “Cuban” as in “Greater Cuban,” meaning theater written, produced, or presented by Cubans and Cuban Americans anywhere in the world. And that, of course, means a lot of theater in Miami.
The archive is already exciting, with a directory of Cuban writers, directors, actors, and productions. Dr. Manzor promises that the archive will grow more exciting still. Working with the UM library, Manzor has won a small grant from the Mellon Foundation to dream up a more sophisticated way of presenting the material that will include video, images, and fancy digital design. Now she and her collaborators are pursuing several other funding opportunities to make that dream a reality. Manzor’s dream beyond a dream is to eventually expand the archive to include all Latino theater.
What is both fascinating and limiting about our performing arts scene is that we have so many fragmented scenes: Greater Cuba, Greater Colombia, Greater Haiti, Greater Jamaica, Greater Brooklyn, and so on. My dream beyond Manzor’s dream is that whatever whiz-bang digital doo dad she comes up with to document Greater Cuban theater can be replicated as a way to document the theater, dance, and music of Greater Miami.