A clean well-lighted space at The Light Box for two companies

At least two theaters will be performing at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse when Miami’s newest performing arts space opens early next year in the Wynwood Arts District.

M Ensemble, which contends it is the oldest continuously operating African-American theater company in the country, will be a formal ‘tenant partner,’ confirmed Rebekah Lanae Lengel, managing producer of Miami Light Project, the group supervising the space.

Facing severe financial problems, M Ensemble officials said last summer that they hoped to move to the Light Box because they were losing their 68-seat home at 12320 West Dixie Highway. But they had not nailed down details to the point that the deal could be formally announced.

M Ensemble will rent office space from Light Box as well as rehearse and perform in the studio auditorium, which may hold between 125 and 175 patrons, Lengel said.

A less concrete arrangement is evolving with Mad Cat Theatre Company, which will likely use the space on an ad hoc basis, said Lengel and Mad Cat Chairwoman Ann Kelly. The troupe co-founded by Paul Tei had performed for years at the Miami Light Project’s former headquarters.

But Tei moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in television and film. Since then, he has steadfastly said that he plans to helm Mad Cat productions by shuttling between South Florida and California. This year, he produced, directed and acted in a reprise of Marco Ramirez’s Broadsword under Mad Cat’s imprimatur. He just finished directing another Mad Cat production, Going Green the Wong Way, a one-woman show starring Los Angeles comedian, Kristina Wong.

Kelly confirmed last week that the company will produce another work at the new Light Box space around July. Tei said he is currently writing two plays that might turn into the summer production.

The Miami Light Project has existed in various locations since 1989 as a non-profit presenter focusing on performance of contemporary music, dance and theater companies. Its most recent space was a 49-seat black box in the first floor of an office building at 3000 Biscayne Blvd.

This year, Miami Light Project has been developing a 12,000-foot building at 404 N.W. 26th Street financed by a $400,000 grant from the Knight Foundation matched by Goldman Properties. The property will include office space, a gallery, rehearsal room and a performance studio. Lengel hoped the space would open in January.

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