Teo Castellanos is one deep brother. And so, simply stated, you might want to buy some tickets to his latest adventure — AMAL, which will take place at the Miami Dade County Auditorium on Friday and Saturday, March 29 and 30 at 8 p.m.
Castellanos has acted in, written, and directed plays, films, and TV shows for the past, I don’t know, forever. Works like NE 2nd Avenue, Scratch and Burn, Fat Boy, and Third Trinity have dropped jaws for well over a decade, all of them humanely fusing and confusing big ideas through music, dance, poetry, spoken word, and comedy. Castellanos’ dance troupe, D-Projects, has married ancient rituals to the streets with stops in rice fields, war zones, and the beyond. To call Castellanos’ work intersectional does not do it justice; he was bending post-intersectionality before anyone ever used the word. There are no issues that frighten him, none that he will not address, and seemingly none that he does not think about. It almost seems as if oxygen itself inspires him.
Ever-experimental, never resting on laurels, never retracing steps, intimidated by neither controversy nor subject, Castellanos draws inspiration from wide pools. Whether 80’s music, hip hop, graffiti, Wynwood circa 2002, Oscar nominated documentaries, sojourns to Bali, escapes to Japan, cool bicycles, sessions with Brimstone127, conferences with DJ Spam, designs with gardeners and electricians, or prayer, Castellanos seeks the Zen edge of things, balances himself, and creates something new and beautiful.
He has influenced, worked with, related to, and mentored Academy Award winning, Liberty City legend, Tarell Alvin McCraney of Moonlight and High Flying Bird fame. He has mentored and tutored also-local writer, actor, and dancer Rudi Goblen. Hyper-talented daughter Jaquen is about to break out, shuttling between work in New York and LA. Through all this, Castellanos remains a profound Miami cultural treasure. Nobody brings it and keeps it so present, so vibrant, so current, and so smokin’.
In AMAL, Castellanos leads a collection of local, Puerto Rican military vets, Combat Hippies, whose writing has evolved into an examination of war, race, and adaptation. Formed during a creative writing workshop for veterans in 2015, which culminated with their inaugural theater piece “Conscience Under Fire,” they have since developed multiple evenings of spoken word and music, generative approaches to workshops designed toward healing, community engagement offerings and more. With Brimstone’s Afrorican Punk soundtrack and live percussion by Angel Ruben Rodriguez Sr., Amal explores wars and its cultural players. Center stage, is Puerto Rico.
This is the second major venture that the Combat Hippies have undertaken. Between 2015-17, Conscience Under Fire ran. After the Miami performances, they will take this tour through San Jose, Denver, and Milwaukee.
The Combat Hippies are funded through generous support from the Knight Foundation, National Performance Network (NPN), New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), National Ensemble of Theaters (NET), and the MAP Fund.
Support the Arts, buy some tix, and check out Castellanos and the Combat Hippies at the end of the month.