Living in Miami, we see a lot of strange things when out and about in the city. But have you ever seen a bonafide gypsy wagon complete with banjos, vintage art and live performers? Us either. That’s why we’re so excited that our long time friend and local artist Shira Abergel is taking her nomadic-gypsy soul and breathing a little life into Miami’s performing-arts scene.
Shira’s been a regular at many of our events, both as guest and performer. She had an awesome set at Motown at The Yard, sang her folky heart out at The Miami Flea, and will continue to serenade us with her sweet songs at The Raddest Craft Fair next weekend.
“ …family, love, laughter, sharing, music, creativity … those are the things I want to nourish and bring to Miami; that lively feeling of true community and togetherness.” – Shira Abergel
Not just a singer, but a musician, dancer, actress, and director, Shira is the creative powerhouse behind Baba Yaga Arts Wagon – a traveling performing space and local art initiative – the first of its kind in Miami.
Towed by a hefty vehicle, the wooden wagon will transform into a fully functioning performance space for all sorts of original theater, dance, and multi-media shows. Keeping with its original purpose of connecting the community to art, all performances would be free to the public to view and enjoy.
In an interview with The Miami New Times, Shira detailed some of her plans for the wagon’s use: “I want to bring shows to the people. You show up and get to see a show in front of your face for free. Even if we get 30 seconds in front of someone at Government Center walking to work, in those 30 seconds, we can offer them a little bubble to stay in for a little bit during their day. We want to catch people off guard…”
Another goal of the wagon is to provide local artists a platform to easily showcase their work. “We’ll also have screenings of old films, new films, original films by South Florida filmmakers,” she says. “I want to incorporate as much of Miami as possible so that when people see it, they can get a sense of the kinds of creativity there is in Miami that they might not otherwise see.”
But it’s one thing to have a wild dream, and another to actually execute it. Shira made it clear that building the wagon from scratch has been a labor of love for everyone involved, and it’s still got quite a bit of work to go. From finding the perfect trailer, to shopping for wood, to figuring out what the hell a seven-pin electric hook up is (I still don’t know) it’s been an intensive process for her and her team. Shira credits her partner Dorset Noble, New World School of the Arts’ talented Set Designer & Technical Director, as the driving architectural force behind the wagon’s creation.
Being the artist that she is, Shira has come to appreciate the art and beauty in all of the tools, processes and knowledge needed to accomplish something like the Baba Wagon. “It’s this whole runaround, looking for people to help us, asking questions, learning about new things like about a trailer or the best type of wood… making the stage weight heavy on the bottom, not the top, so when you drive it doesn’t lean to one side when you turn. Little things like that are really interesting and I’m not a builder of any sort. ”
But the real fuel to keep Baba Yaga running is genuine and authentic community support. Today, Shira is reaching out to fellow Miamians and art enthusiasts everywhere to raise $25,000 to finish the development of her beloved Baba Yaga Wagon. The money is set to be going towards a slew of things needed to make sure the wagon is up an running by October, like audio-visual equipment, set design, costumes, and figuring out how to power the wagon sustainably.
So whether you’re a die-hard theatre geek, or a long-time local who just wants to see Miami develop into a better place for the arts and culture to thrive, show some love to Shira and Baba Yaga. You won’t regret it.
Construction of the wagon is set to be done by August 2016 and the first batch of shows are set to tour the Miami streets starting in October. Check out the link to her Kickstarter here, and follow all things Baba Yaga on their website here.