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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

A performance artist and UF student redefines normalcy in his new play, UMMU.

Tom Miller, 49, is a man of many hats. Student, director, writer and photographer — it seems to be a never-ending list. Currently, Miller is a straight-A student and on the Dean’s List for his academic merits at the UF School of Theatre and Dance, where he studies theater. 

Miller defines himself as a performance artist, and his current project is a play called UMMU, a story about three characters and the subversion of reality.

UMMU is Miller’s baby in every sense. He said he’s been dreaming up the play for nearly 20 years. His hard work paid off last weekend as the first staged reading of the play premiered at the Acrosstown.

While the play isn’t yet finished, Miller said he has high hopes for the end product. He painted a picture of the process the play has gone through in a number of stages and said the final stage will be submitting the work to a film festival.

“It breaks the fifth wall of theater,” Miller said. “It’s already mind-bending in about six directions before you even get into it.”

Miller said he likes weird. He shies away from the normal constructs of reality and encourages others to join him in this new way of thinking. Every Monday night, the Tom Miller Show happens at Maude’s Classic Café, also known to Gainesville natives as the Sidecar.

“It was designed to be much more than an open mic,” Miller said. “It was designed to push boundaries, test limits and explore extremes…. Our show isn’t always entertaining; sometimes it is painful, but it is artistic and occasionally profound.”

The Tom Miller Show is open and free for the public. While Miller said the show is ongoing, things usually get revved up at about 10:30 p.m.

For now, UMMU is classified as “in the works.” Miller praises the three readers from the first staged reading: Shamrock McShane, Katrina Dailey and Michael Bobbitt. He said he considers them to be the current cast and hopes they will continue on as the play progresses and eventually becomes a finished product.

By now, readers have probably questioned the play’s title.

“I’ll have to leave you with some mystery on that one,” Miller said. “But I will share that it means the same forward as backward, as do many things.”

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[A version of this story ran on page 12 on 7/2/15]

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