Critical Acclaim


Photo courtesy of Provoke Photography

Written by: Conor McPherson  |  Directed by: Collin Carmouze
Starring: Gregg Weiner

"Ground Up and Rising artistic director Collin Carmouze, has been with the company for ten years, and each piece he's directed has been outstanding. “The Good Thief” is no exception."

"If theatre is your drug of choice, see this. It's playing in South Miami and then moving to Miami Beach. And, Ground Up and Risings tickets are a steal."

“Despite the blood, the sex, the graphic tales, McPherson has written a quiet piece. His poetry is in the details and from this Weiner makes his man almost likeable, his delivery unemotional, as if telling his terrible tales to friends over a beer or two, his regret and pain never quite revealed."

- Roger Martin, Miami ArtZine Review Of “The Good Thief”


"…this production, in Ground Up’s signature barebones style, favors the spartan over the stuffed, drawing abundance from negation. Weiner’s frill-less performance and Carmouze’s restrained direction only underline the acuity of McPherson’s vivid descriptions, which require no physical reinforcements."

"They just require an audience, which is where you come in. Please."

"…Ground Up’s Good Thief deserves credit for riveting us with words and inflection alone."

"No Frills, No Problem: Masterly McPherson Monologue Gets the Ground Up & Rising Treatment"

- Bill Hirschman, Florida Theater On Stage Review Of “The Good Thief”


Photo courtesy of Provoke Photography

Written by: Stephan Adly Gurgis  |  Directed by: Arturo Rossi
Starring: Curtis Blez, Marckenson Charles, Rachel Chin, Antoni Crone, Kameshia Duncan,
Rayner Gabriel Garranchan, Valentina Izzara, Shein Mompremier, George Schiavone,
Christian Vandepas, Keith C. Wade and Gregg Weiner

"We’ve written a paragraph like this only two or three times: Stop what you are doing. Stop reading this review. Go to the phone or online and order tickets right now for Ground Up & Rising’s superb production of Stephen Adly Gurgis’ Our Lady of 121st Street.

There are only five performances left over two weekends including tonight. Cancel the cookout. There will be another football game. Theater this hilarious, this heartbreaking, this brutally honest in its depiction of fallible humans beings flailing for coherence in their lives, this does not come around often.

If this wasn’t ineligible for Carbonells because actors’ availability limited the number of performances, a lot of nomination slots would be blown away by this theatrical equivalent of Hurricane Hermine."
- Bill Hirschman, Florida Theater On Stage Review Of “Our Lady of 121st Street”

"The cast is made up mostly of people who have worked with Ground Up before; some of them have flown back to appear and must leave after the closing matinee. Every last member of this smoothly integrated ensemble is so effective together and individually that it would be grossly unfair to leave out anybody. So, sit tight….

The most indelible is Carbonell-winner Marckenson Charles as Rooftop, now a morning drive time DJ in Los Angeles who repeatedly betrayed his wife Inez before abandoning her. Nailing Gurgis’ intent, Charles’ Rooftop spends his initial scenes in an atypical confessional (15 years late) with the crusty and faith-challenged Father Lux (a wonderful George Schiavone). Rooftop’s snappy glib repartee is pure Chris Rock until suddenly Charles, Gurgis and Rooftop take a credible left turn revealing Rooftop’s introspective pain. Like everyone in the cast, Charles pivots instantly and believably from riotous humor to moving angst.”
- Bill Hirschman, Florida Theater On Stage Review Of “Our Lady of 121st Street”

"Miami’s Ground Up & Rising has a startof-season triumph on its hands with the company’s version of Guirgis’ 2002 Off-Broadway hit. That the bare-bones, exquisitely acted production is running for only six performances over two weekends — and the first weekend is already history — is truly a pity. The play and the actors’ work in it are fierce, funny and powerfully engaging. The show deserves to be seen by many more theater lovers than the 60 per performance who can be accommodated in the Lab Theater at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center."
- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald Review Of “Our Lady 121st Of Street”

"Guirgis, director Arturo Rossi and the cast make the scenes so vibrant that, once you’ve met all of Sister Rose’s ex-students and the other characters, you miss them when they’re offstage and anticipate their return."
- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald Review Of “Our Lady 121st Of Street”

"The dynamic between the intense Edwin (Curtis Belz) and his loving, vulnerable, brain damaged brother Pinky (Rayner Gabriel Garranchan) is deeply touching and beautifully rendered by the two actors. Edwin finds himself drawn to Sister Rose’s niece Marcia (a compelling Valentina Izarra), a mercurial woman who summons his tamped-down longing. The
closeted-in-Harlem Flip and his flamboyant partner, Gail, discover that their trip to New York has become a Rorschach test for their relationship — an ugly one at that."
- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald Review Of “Our Lady 121st Of Street”

"Father Lux (George Schiavone), a disabled priest who proves to be frank to a fault, cantankerously hears the long-overdue confession of Rooftop,
who catalogues years of transgressions, many of them sexual. Sitting in a “confessional” that is nothing more than a rectangle of light supplied by designer Will Cabrera, Charles is utterly mesmerizing as a powerful personality looking for absolution — or a way to forgive himself — for shattering the heart of his former wife Inez (Kameshia Duncan). Still as furious as the day Rooftop betrayed her for the last time, Inez isn’t having any of her ex’s pet names or summoning of the past, yet Duncan offers glimpses of her wounded soul."
- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald Review Of “Our Lady 121st Of Street”





Photo courtesy of Provoke Photography

Written by: Christian O'Reilly  |  Directed by: Collin Carmouze
Starring: Collin Carmouze and Sarah McGregor

“Miami’s Ground Up & Rising has been specializing in a particular strain of western theater: the austere, bone-scraping two- (or three-) hander, minimally produced and ferociously acted.”

“Affable and relatable, Carmouze and McGregor effectively create two regular people caught in an irregular fluke of providence.”

"He stages The Good Father in a three-quarter round, and there is no scenic design perse. Rather, the elements of a set—tables, chairs, benches, clothing racks—sit dormant behind the actors, covered and upturned, until Carmouze and McGregor remove and place them between scenes."

"After a furnishing is used, it’s discarded backstage, so that
the space becomes gradually (and symbolically) barren.”

"The decision is budget-conscious but also artistic, as evidenced by
a masterly decision, in the high point of Act Two, to wordlessly
convey a tragic turn of events by transforming one object
into another."
- John Thomason, Florida Theater On Stage Review Of “The Good Father”

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Photo courtesy of Provoke Photography

Written by: Philip Ridley  |  Directed by: Collin Carmouze
Starring: Beverly Blanchette and Bobby Johnston

“Ground Up’s Harrowing Vincent River Among The Season’s Best”

“Stop what you’re doing. Really. Go online right now and reserve tickets to see Ground Up & Rising’s harrowing and moving Vincent River, inarguably one of the best productions of the season.

The URL? . Done? No excuses. Okay.”

“The scrappy Miami troupe performs in an out-of-the-way warehouse or the ballroom of a Botanical Garden; their finances make a shoestring budget look flush. But over and over, the thematically ambitious company has been producing visceral, gritty work during its 10-year history such as On An Average Day, Gruesome Playground Injuries, 9 Circles, Dying City, Jesus Hopped The A Train and The Hate U Gave: The Tupac Shakur Story.”
- Florida Theater On Stage's Theatre Review

“Artistic Director Collin Carmouze masterfully guides Beverly Blanchette and Robert Johnston in bravura performances that eclipse anything we have seen them do before.”Gave: The Tupac Shakur Story.”
- Florida Theater On Stage's Theatre Review

“...what makes this production transcendent is the similarly courageous
emotional commitment of the Johnston-Blanchette-Carmouze trio.”

- Florida Theater On Stage's Theatre Review

“Carmouze, also an actor with the company, stages the play with care and skill. The pacing is generally slow, just as you would expect when two people are feeling their way around in a minefield on a starless midnight.
The actors are allowed to breathe and find the characters’ thoughts rather than just emote the next line in the script. He moves the actors around enough to keep this very talky play from feeling static. With just a flat stage to work with, he still varies who is the prominent speaker by having someone sit on the floor while another is standing or having someone fade to the background. But his real accomplishment is what he has wrenched out of these actors working at the top of their game.”

- Florida Theater On Stage's Theatre Review

“Blanchette, a veteran local actress, has needed a role worthy of her talents since retiring as dean of theater at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts. She has it now and she makes the most of it. Her Anita may seem externally an almost stereotypical British prole, but Blanchette, Carmouze and Ridley make her anything but. Blanchette creates a multilevel, multi-faceted creation who is intelligent and intuitive. She initially seems so anesthetized by the tragedy that she has become unfeeling, taking cover in flip humor. But millimeter by millimeter, Blanchette reveals the depth of Anita’s pain. Eventually, the actress gets to show us the entire gamut of human emotion as the protagonists poke and pry at each other’s wounds seeking truth.”

“And Johnston. He caught many theatergoers’ attention as the nude corpse in Zoetic Stage’s Clark Gable Slept Here, the rowdy backwoods politician of Outré Theatre Company’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
and the affable hero of Slow Burn Theatre Company’s High Fidelity. Forget all that. From his opening moments as a seemingly typical but troubled teenager, then to his shattering marathon aria near the end of the play, Johnston gives a superlative performance, although he burrows so deeply into the reality of the character that it never seems like an actor at work.”

“His Davey is by a score of turns sometimes suspicious, caring, angry, respectful, needful, arrogant, compassionate, on and on, all displayed unbidden on his soulful face. In each case, Johnston dives deep into Davey’s being and brings up a pure emotion that resonates with anyone watching. We’re just guessing that he and/or Carmouze has had dance training because this Davey is so physical; his body language his gestures all communicate the turmoil inside. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that he has a sexy lost puppy dog look.

Both actors deliver convincing working-class accents and maintain them flawlessly throughout the evening.”
- Florida Theater On Stage's Theatre Review

“Director Collin Carmouze has drawn a performance from Blanchette that takes Anita from a manipulative flippancy to angry devastation. And Johnston’s performance, particularly as he recounts the worst night of
Davey’s life, is utterly riveting.

“Blanchette creates a vivid character, certainly. And Johnston? His work is extraordinary.”
- Miami Herald's Theatre Review

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Chin

Written by: Jonathan Caren  |  Directed by: Arturo Rossi
Starring: O'Neil Delapenha, Christian Vandepas and Kevin A. Walton

“The Recommendation Satisfies In Its Subtleties At Ground Up”

“Miami’s Ground Up & Rising production of Jonathan Caren’s The Recommendation is compelling on so many levels.”

“While it would be easy to fall into the cliché of saying Ground Up’s production should be highly recommended, there’s more to this The Recommendation than that. This is not only a show that should be sought out, but also a theater company worth recognizing. With The Recommendation, they’ve taken on a challenging script, added their own artistic touch, and created a winner.”

“Add to this director/producer Arturo Rossi’s vision; he not only digs deep into Caren’s message, but adds his own layer of intrigue through his directing, which brings out the best in a cast that is less than seasoned and then goes a step further by peppering the play with subtleties to make it all the more edgy. What may be overlooked, but shouldn’t be by theatergoers, is Rossi’s sound design — a soundtrack that heightens the tenseness of the atmosphere. (As an aside, I would have loved to have been able to download Rossi’s The Recommendation soundtrack or see it for sale at the back of the house. A fundraising mechanism for the scrappy company perhaps?)”

- Florida Theater On Stage's Theatre Review

“Two Americas Collide In The Compelling The Recommendation At Artistic Vibes”

“Rossi uses the minimalist space with savvy, staging some of the action in an open living-room arrangement underneath the proscenium, where the actors slyly interact with the audience and, at one point, the sound technician.… in one inspired touch, Delapenha delivers a monologue lit only by the glow of his cellphone, the actor’s shadow towering behind him.”

“Caren’s earnest play, directed with surprisingly comic zeal by Arturo Rossi, explores the politics, calculations and negotiations that underpin friendships. Vandepas reminds us why he’s one of the most gifted and underrated actors in South Florida theater, crafting a detestable douchebag who wields influence like a fifth appendage, but who can transform into a whimpering child when his well-laid plans evaporate. Walton is equally phenomenal, introducing Dwight with a delusional, implacable bipolarity and, in the play’s climax, a seething authenticity that brings the strange quirk of his earlier scene into clearer focus.”

- Miami New Times' Theatre Review

“Incendiary acting marks Ground Up & Rising’s ‘The Recommendation’”

“Founded in 2005, the not-for-profit company…. helped launch the careers of rising film and TV actors Arturo Rossi, Bechir Sylvain, Sheaun McKinney and others (all Ground Up & Rising founders)”

“Vandepas, who just gets better and better as he forges a career at different South Florida theaters, brings an energetic charisma and lots of nuanced humor to Aaron; you’re always intrigued by where this spoiled, unreliable guy will go next on his wild ride through life.

“Walton, chiseled and extravagantly tattooed, delivers Dwight’s most outlandish lies and fantasies as though they were the gospel truth. Coolly menacing, with a hair-trigger temper, Walton’s Dwight ratchets up the tension whenever he appears, even if his mission at that moment is to be ingratiating.”

- Miami Herald's Theatre Review

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Photo courtesy of Helena Carmouze, Provoke Photography

Written by: Christopher Shinn  |  Directed by: Collin Carmouze
Starring: Christian Vandepas and Valentina Izarra

“Ground Up and Rising (those who can seemingly do no wrong) spent a couple of weekends performing Dying City on the patio at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden and proved that sets and lights will never ace the talent on the boards. Or the concrete slabs, in this case.”

“Valentina Izarra and Christian Vandepas took the political arguments, the expository tales of off stage characters, the aches of growing, the guilt and lies, the sorrows and exaggerations of the mundane and made an evening of intense drama from this dense melange.”

“Izarra plays Kelly, the widow, with the resignation and quietness of bereavement that lends enthralling power to her story. Her rage and sorrow are real. Vandenpas excels as both Peter the actor and his twin brother Craig the soldier. As Peter he is the warmly helpful brother in law, hesitant in his offerings but persistent in his tales of gay life in the theatre and always with an undercurrent of his hidden agenda. His Craig is the secretive soldier, PhD candidate, proving himself in all the wrong ways.”

“Collin Carmouze directed and kept the pace such that the slowly fading afternoon light, the heat, the mosquitoes and noise of overhead airplanes could not distract from this performance of Dying City.”

- Miami Artzine Theatre Review

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Chin

Written by: Bill Cain  |  Directed by: Arturo Rossi
Starring: Christian Vandepas, Collin Carmouze, Valentina Izarra,
O'Neil Delapenha and Luis Ettorre

“War is hell. That short, sobering assessment is credited to Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, but it is an eternal truth. Just ask the soldiers and civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria — the list is tragically endless. Or go to see the short Ground Up & Rising run of Bill Cain’s award-winning play 9 Circles, which charts the descent of a disturbed American soldier into a hell that is just partially of his own making.”

“With varying accents and an actor’s transformative abilities, Carmouze portrays Reeves’ commanding officer, military and civilian lawyers, and a pastor so atypical that he seems a surreal embodiment of the prisoner’s nightmare world.”

“9 Circles is a provocative, disturbing exploration of a man-made hell on earth.”

- Miami Herald Theatre Review


“The title of this spartan antiwar psychodrama, written by Jesuit priest Bill Cain, is inspired by Dante’s Inferno. In a tale that unfolds in nine chapters, or “circles,” a mentally imbalanced American Army grunt who is alleged to have committed an unspeakable atrocity while stationed in Iraq undergoes his own descent into Hell back home: a months-long procession of Army attorneys, ministers, psychologists and civilian lawyers, who alternately try to understand his psyche, use him as a political pawn and bring him to Jesus. At two hours and 15 minutes, this heady play is receiving a commendable production from Ground Up and Rising, a Miami-based theater company prone to mounting fearless, provocative works like this one. I attended a preview production this past weekend, and “9 Circles” is well worth seeing, if a smidge overlong. Christian Vandepas’ performance as the disturbed soldier is a tour de force. It runs Saturdays and Sundays only through July 20.”

- Boca Magazine Theatre Review

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Chin

Written by: Rajiv Joseph  |  Directed by: Arturo Rossi
Starring: Sheaun Mckinney and Valentina Izarra

“That’s credited directly to the director Arturo Rossi. He knows where this play means to go and deftly adds brushstrokes all evening until he completes the portrait. But the show still carries a slow-moving wallop because of him and his cast. Another of Rossi’s skills is how, quite unobtrusively, he places the two characters in an endless array of tableaus and how he moves them around the set."

“These are difficult roles because the characters as written are too quirky to be completely believable, yet McKinney and Izarra succeed in investing both with a mercurial array of emotions. They excel at plausibly portraying their characters at different stages of their maturation. They are playfully childish one scene, soul-battered adults in the next, and spiky adolescents in the next. McKinney, a veteran of Ground Up’s troupe, has an imposing muscular, loose-limbed physicality of gentle genial giant, but he has the capability of erupting scorching lava. Izarra has a dancer’s grace and emits the aura of a tortured soul who long ago gave up on any hope of a genuine relationship with anybody. As per the script, they don’t exude any romantic chemistry, but there is a sense of kindred spirits cautiously trying to make connections but shying away before consummating emotionally."

"We saw this play at 2nd Stage in New York starring Pablo Schreiber (The Wire) and Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter)…the work here by Rossi, Izarra and McKinney actually lands a far more emotional punch."

- Bill Hirschman, Florida Theater On Stage


“Director and Ground Up cofounder Arturo Rossi has a strong two-person cast in Sheaun McKinney (another Ground Up founder who was, like Rossi, featured on the first season of TV’s Graceland) and Valentina Izarra.”

“Each scene is a snapshot, a device underscored by director Rossi as a wordless photographer who captures the place (hospital, school, psychiatric ward) and time of each encounter. Moving gracefully in a choreographed way, the actors achieve their time-traveling simply, changing shoes, Kayleen altering her hairstyle, Dougie adding a bandage that conceals a horrifying eye injury.”

“Izarra’s..Kayleen impressively ripens into a furious, damaged, self-destructive woman. McKinney brings just enough rough-and-tumble whimsy to little Dougie, and he makes the grown-up Doug’s longing for Kayleen, the character’s belief in her healing powers, utterly convincing. In Gruesome Playground Injuries, the words and the wounds are inextricable.”

- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Chin

Written by: Rajiv Joseph  |  Directed by: Arturo Rossi
Starring: Sheaun Mckinney and Valentina Izarra

“It's a thirty year old play and it works as well today as it will thirty years hence. John Patrick Shanley's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea first hit the stage at the Actors Theatre of Louisville's Festival of New Plays in 1984. Thank you, Lord. And thank you, Ground Up & Rising, for bringing this short gem to Miami, if only for a four night run. Produced by Curtis Belz and directed by Collin Carmouze, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea has Belz and Valentina Izarra sparring for seventy minutes of totally engrossing theatre.”

“The set in the first scene in the bar has two black boxes, three black chairs, one plastic glass and a plastic bowl of pretzels. In the second scene a double bed is the set. And that's all that's needed because Belz and Izarra are dueling and loving with such intensity that anything beyond them is superfluous."

"And so begins a furious physical and emotional dance between Roberta and Danny. She's divorced with an out of control teen aged son. She lives with her parents and endlessly blames herself for an horrific moment with her father. Danny flips between almost sanity and crazed violence with terrible pleasure. Belz and Izarra have complete control of more emotions than Freud ever dreamed of. ”

- Roger Martin,

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Chin

Written by: Martin McDonagh  |  Directed by: Collin Arnaldo Carmouze
Starring: Bechir Sylvain, Sheaun McKinney, Arnaldo Carmouze, Claudio Pinto, David Gallegos, Jennifer Lorenzo and introducing Curtis Belz

"'s nice to go to a little black box theatre, see a show put on by a small company with little money, and just enjoy the hell out of it because of the acting... if you put Ground Up & Risings' terrific cast into Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman you get an evening that's enthralling."

"Arnaldo Carmouze doubles as both ingenious director and actor and, despite the old adage, fills both roles very well indeed. His Michal, the slow brother of Katurian, is wonderfully knowing."

- Roger Martin,

"Murder and imagination take centerstage in the harrowing play, The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh, now enjoying a strong production by the Miami theatre company Ground Up and Rising.

"The cast is excellent. As Katurian, Belz first comes off like a two-bit petty thief, but his performance evolves and matures over the course of the play, transforming Katurian into a sympathetic anti hero. Sylvain mines the gold from his richly drawn character, in both his violent outbursts and his epiphany. McKinney’s performance is controlled and compelling–he can do more with silences and a smile than most actors can do with a page of dialogue–and he is riveting to watch."

"The most impressive performance, on stage and behind the scenes, is from Carmouze, who also directs. As Michal... his performance is both funny and heartbreaking. His direction wrings both the horror and humor from McDonagh’s play."

- Mary Damiano,

"...I’d seen the show on Broadway, starring Jeff Goldblum (Tupolski), Billy Crudup (Katurian), Zeljko Ivanek (Ariel)... Yet Ground Up and Rising’s cast and crew measured up, though to very different effect.”

“The actors’ youth makes the banter between bad cop Ariel’s (Bechir Sylvain) and good cop Tupolski (Sheaun McKinney) less world-weary than the script would suggest, but what they lack in experience, they make up in swagger. Youth sits well with Michal, Katurian’s child-man brother, amping up the horror behind his misdeeds.

“We are lucky to have them here in the meantime, making of Miami an affordable laboratory for the young actors and directors to challenge themselves and grow.

- Celeste Freaser Delgado, Knight Arts Blog

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Chin

Written by: John Kolvenbach  |  Directed by: Arturo Rossi
Starring: Arturo Fernandez Rossi & Collin Arnaldo Carmouze

“Ground Up & Rising displays a sampling of acting prowess..."

“.. First, the acting by the two stars - Arturo Fernandez and Arnaldo Carmouze - is A class.. absorbing and classy... a vigorous character study. The acting makes this visit worthwhile - seeing two extremely capable actors put their spin on unlikely characters."

- Ron Levitt, Florida Media News Theatre Critic

The newest show from South Florida's Ground Up & Rising theater company, On an Average Day continues the troupe's edgy artistic journey" With On An Average Day, Ground Up & Rising demonstrates yet again both it's power and potential."

Ground Up & Rising's hoping to make Miami Beach their home. Sounds artistically adventurous young theater company has stepped up to fill that niche on the Beach"

"..Dont miss the nuanced intricacies in the performances of Arturo Fernandez and Arnaldo Carmouze as the damaged sons of an emotionally deadened father... "

- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald Theatre Critic

"Every once in a while the work of an actor, actress or set designer you've never heard of is so stunning that you ask,"Who is that?... Arturo Fernandez is South Florida's best-kept secret. He's the producing artistic director of the shoestring Ground Up & Rising troupe, which moves more often than a Bedouin. Fernandez's tour de force performance and driving direction of On an Average Day last month was hypnotic. Florida is famous for its pushover audiences giving standing ovations to nearly everything, but this production earned it. Ground Up is the same group that produced the criminally overlooked The Hate U Gave: The Tupac Shakur Story last year."

- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald Theatre Critic

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Chin

Written by: Stephen Adly Guirgis  |  Directed by: Arturo Rossi
Starring: Carlos Alayeto, Kameshia Duncan, Ann Marie Olson, George Schiavone, Claudio Pinto, Lela Elam, Heather Gallagher, David Gallegos, Jenny Lorenzo, Arnaldo(Collin) Carmouze, Sheaun McKinney, Reiss Gaspard, Bechir Sylvain, Reggie Beaubrun, Renata Ferreira, Jose Paredes, Arturo Fernandez, Rachel Chin and Ashley Cheng

“Judas’ a rare jewel”

"Ground Up & Rising and a provocative playwright combine to create potent theater that speaks to an elusive younger audience."

“The great problem in the theater world, the thing that gives artistic directors ulcers as they gaze upon one Baby Boomer-and-up audience after another, is this: How do you get kids raised on 24/7 cable, the Internet, instant-access movies and the like to understand that going to the right play can be interesting, entertaining, even thrilling?"

“Those desperately seeking answers would do well to check out The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, a production by the edgy young company Ground Up & Rising”

“Stephen Adly Guirgis’ sprawling, ambitious play is attracting audiences that mirror the company itself: young, ethnically and racially diverse, intellectually curious. Given the 15-actor cast size and economics of small theater, the production is heading into the final weekend of a too-short run. Do, if you love good acting and theater that gives your gray matter a jolt, make haste to Kendall.”

- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald Theatre Critic

"Miami’s Ground Up & Rising turns Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play about Jesus’ betrayer — The Last Days of Judas Iscariot — into a showcase for dazzling acting."

- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald Theatre Critic

"If any cast could do it, this would be the one. The credits in the program read like a transcript of a ludicrously ambitious director’s dream. Elam, Schiavone, and Duncan, along with Carlos Alayeto, Bechir Sylvain, Reiss Gaspard,and Sheaun McKinney — all at the top of the SoFla theater community”

“As presented by Ground Up and Rising, it is an approximation of what the progeny of magical realism and cyberpunk might look like onstage.”

- Brandon K. Thorp, Miami New Times

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Chin

Written by: Meshaun Labrone  |  Directed by: Arturo Rossi
Starring: Meshaun Labron

“The Hate U Gave: The Tupac Shakur Story may bethe most thought- provoking and lacerating evening in South Florida theater this season.”

“A dazzlingly insightful script and mesmerizing performance... make this a don't-miss production by Ground Up & Rising"

"Fernandez has amplified the script with imaginative staging, dramatic lighting and a wide range of music that comments on the proceedings. But his masterstroke is to turn down the volume and speed to let the work breathe in dramatic silences and quiet soliloquies. By slowing the rendition of a Shakur song, he reveals its words as passionate and insightful sociological comment wrapped in a lyrical, if profane, street poetry."

"Fernandez has inserted balancing arias from a Greek chorus who condemn Shakur for glamorizing the obscene damage of the ethos he markets."
- Bill Hirschman , Sun-Sentinel Theatre Critic

"It takes a brave company to produce a play about Tupac Shakur."

"This remarkable show is the best possible advertisement for both the form and its subject....elucidating manifold subtleties of human truth with effortless speed and force, pummeling your guts and breaking your heart
before he goes to work on your head.

- Brandon K. Thorp, Miami New Times

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Chin

Written by: David Rabe  |  Directed by: Arturo Rossi
Starring: Arturo Fernandez Rossi, Sheaun McKinney, Johnny Walker, Carlos Alayeto, Jose Paredes, Arnaldo (Collin) Carmouze, David Gallegos, Reiss Gaspard, Rachel Chin and Reggie Beauburn

“Gritty Vietnam tale, dynamic cast, a sad soldier’s hell in an earlier war is both an object lesson and a showcase for a talented young troupe.”

“That Miami’s Ground Up & Rising troupe is tackling the first play of Rabe’s Vietnam trilogy … is both timely and smart.”

“The company, which made its strongest mark to date with the world premier of co-founder Arturo Fernandez’ September 10th, is building a reputation for doing memorable productions of gritty dramas with talented young actors.”

“Co-directed by Alayeto and Fernandez … the stage is awash in testosterone, intensity, and aggression - ammunition in both war and drama.”

- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald Theatre Critic

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Photo courtesy of Natalie Melissa

Written by: David Rabe  |  Directed by: Bechir Sylvain
Starring: Arturo Fernandez Rossi, Arnaldo (Collin) Carmouze and Carlos Alayeto

“I thought I was impervious. As a critic, I’m always focusing on the man behind the curtain; rarely taken in by the illusion. Nothing shocks me, right? Last Saturday night, Ground Up & Rising proved me wrong. The plucky young theatre troupe’s production of Israel Horovitz’s 1968 Obie winning play The Indian Wants the Bronx disturbed me more than any work I had seen in a long time.

Director Bechir Sylvain keeps the focus on the actors … elaborating on the sparse hints of troubled home life, the actors play their characters’ vulnerability beautifully, first glimpsed when Fernandez shows Alayeto a Christmas card he made, absurdly flattered by the uncomprehending man’s attention.

Each transgression builds on the last, from harmless taunts to bloodletting, as vulnerability is fended off through aggression. The pacing elicits fresh horror at every stage, as the realization sinks in that while these young men may have been harmed themselves they are anything but harmless.

It’s a testament to Sylvain’s detailed direction and the emotional depth of the actors that in this production at least, the revelation is much more specific through the particular ways that damage is inflicted on one fragile human being can be deflected with even greater intensity onto another. The tragedy lay not in the “universal” proposition that there is a monster lurking in each of us, but that these two young men, rendered so completely by Sylvain, Carmouze, and Fernandez, should at such a young age with all of their joyful potential, know no other way to nurse their wounds than to wound another.”

- Celeste Frasier Delgado, Publisher and Theatre Critic,

“Bechir Sylvain directs the three men with a good sense of timing and movement. You feel uneasy from the opening lines, and the tension doesn’t let go. As the guys’ frustration with not being understood escalates, so does the physical contact, and you realize the situation is not going to have a happy ending.”

- Marta Barber, Miami Herald Theatre Critic

“Tackling both a new space and an acting challenge … each weekend
throughout the play’s run, Carmouze and Fernandez will switch roles,
giving a different flavor to the production.”

- MChristine Dolen, Miami Herald Theatre Critic

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Written and directed by: Arturo Rossi
Starring: Rio Chavarro, Sheaun McKinney, Arnaldo Carmouze, Kameshia Duncan, Heather Gallagher, Bechir Sylvain and Jose Paredes

“Though Miami's new Carnival Center for the Performing Arts has been getting all the ink lately, it's worth remembering that theater doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate to matter. A theater community … grows when young artists with talent make opportunities for themselves. Ground Up & Rising is a company whose ambitions are as grand as its productions are simple. It wants to nurture new work. It wants to give meaty roles to South Florida actors. It wants to create theater that speaks to a younger audience. With its world premiere production of Arturo Fernandez's September 10th, it does all three … it feels very real. And, in the way that theater can reflect and help us process our own experience, it matters.”
- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald Theatre Critic

“From the theater development lab Ground Up & Rising comes September 10th, a new play about the impact of 9/11. Although this stage version has decidedly fewer special effects than the average Oliver Stone movie, it still promises to be a heart-wrencher.”
- Daniel Renzi, Miami New Times

“September 10th is a brilliant new play featuring fantastic performances from a talented, young cast. I was so enormously impressed after seeing it that I immediately wanted to bring it to GableStage."
- Joseph Adler, Producing Artistic Director, GableStage

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Written by: Suzan-Lori Parks | Directed by: John Archie
Starring: Sheaun McKinney and Bechir Sylvain

“Topdog is an easy pick for a winner. Watch it. Watch it close.”

“Riveting performances … the actors' angst and anger is as palpable as the sweat that drips from their foreheads.”
- Brett O’Bourke, Miami Herald

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Photo courtesy of Natalie Melissa

Written by: Stephen Adly Guirgis | Directed by: Arturo Fernandez Rossi
Starring: Arturo Fernandez Rossi, Bechir Sylvain, Sheaun McKinney, Kameshia Duncan and Carlos Alayeto

“Propelled through the night like a junkie’s fever dream, the actors circle and crouch around each other like feral animals on burning sand.”

“The actors pour manic energy and smoldering frustration into this razor-edged street brawl of intellects.” “This is pure theatre.”
- Bill Hirschman, Sun-Sentinel

“Honorable Mention in the Sun-Sentinel’s Best Plays of 2005”
- Jack Zink, Sun-Sentinel

“Miami’s sizzling Ground Up & Rising company is reminding theater fans how the right play and visceral young actors can add up to a powerful experience.”
- Christine Dolen, Miami Herald’s Critic’s Pick

“The outstanding performances by Fernandez and Sylvain give the audience an all too real depiction of life as a convicted felon. By humanizing these individuals by giving them pasts and relatable emotions, it once again deals with an uncomfortable topic; whether or not we should consider these men monsters or human beings.”
- Chelsea Steele, The Panther Online Edition

“Great Moment: Sheaun McKinney's instantly evident bad-assness in Jesus Hopped the A-Train:After watching his turn as a puling slave in the excruciating House with No Walls, we thought we had Sheaun McKinney
figured. He was a cute,skinny kid, good for grabbing the heart strings and little else. Our mistake. As a prison guard named Vasquez in Ground Up & Rising's Jesus Hopped the A-Train, he wasn't onstage a minute before
the mean temperature in the auditorium dropped 10 degrees. He didn't want to rough up his charges, as the script might have suggested; he wanted to kill them. That desire, unspoken and undeniable, was almost certainly the actor's own innovation. At least when he was onstage, McKinney really was full of hate, inspiring in viewers a creeping uneasiness and a sense they were sitting too close to an explosion waiting to happen.

- Brandon K. Thorp, Miami New Times, 2007: The Moments in Review

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