Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sarnoff's Big Play

The Miami Herald reports that City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff is still itching to remove the Coconut Grove Playhouse from the current board.  But in doing so, he reveals his dismal ignorance of the South Florida theatre scene.
"Do people really think they're going to do outdoor theater in the heat?'' Sarnoff said of the interim plan to present theater and arts events in the playhouse parking lot. ``This board doesn't have a long-term plan... First, it was a 600-seat theater with a college partner. Then it was a 300-seat theater run by GableStage with no college partner.''
First, the outdoor theatre plan: the fact is that the current Playhouse is condemned, and the $20 million the county holds isn't enough to restore the theatre to a level ready for production.   The plan for doing outdoor theatre is the only way that theatre is going to be done in the Grove anytime in the next few years.  And the idea of doing a play on the site of a theatre under construction has good roots in Florida: the Kravis Center hired Florida Stage to do Shakespeare while the Performing Arts Center was under construction.  It was a way of showing the community that there is a commitment to theatre on the site.  Both Kravis Center and Florida Stage are still going, so it wasn't a terrible idea.

Shakespeare Miami does an out door play in the Grove every year.  It's reasonably well-attended.  Pinecrest Repertory is doing outdoor theatre on the former sight of Parrot Jungle.  And Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival has been holding court in Jupiter's Carlin Park for nearly two decades.

So, answer Sarnoff's question "Do people really think they're going to do outdoor theater in the heat?''  the answer is "yes."  And if Sarnoff had bothered to do even a little research, he'd never have asked such a stupid question.

To address his next issue, I have to point out that The Scene has long been critical of the Playhouse Board's whimsically flimsy long term plans.  And while the earlier plans were doomed to failure, Sarnoff seems to think they are worth pursuing:
"First, it was a 600-seat theater with a college partner. Then it was a 300-seat theater run by GableStage with no college partner.''
Sarnoff is purposely ignoring that plans for the site still include a 600 seat theatre.  The college partner plan was dropped because - as we stated back in April 2008,  there are no colleges in Miami-Dade County in a position to enter into such a partnership.  They are all of them strapped for cash, and any partnership would require a financial involvement.  Colleges are looking for companies to bring money to them, not for companies to give money to.

So, the 600 seat theatre is still in play, and the old board managed to get the most critically acclaimed Artistic Director in South Florida to agree to leave the theatre he turned around from the butt of jokes to a regional player, for the ongoing disaster that has been the Coconut Grove Playhouse for the last decade.  They did that by dangling the 300 seat theatre, which is just the right size for a regional theatre.  Sarnoff can scoff all he likes, but the fact is that that's a damned fine piece of work.

Sarnoff's final argument is arguably his lamest:
Sarnoff also contends that GableStage and its artistic director, Joseph Adler, don't do the kind of theater that would work in Coconut Grove.

"In his last show [March's Blasted], there was a woman naked onstage saying f--k every third word. . . . I don't think that's going to sell in the Grove.''
OH MY GOD HE'S RI^^^....  wait a minute, Adler's addressed this issue:
Adler says the Coconut Grove events won't be regular GableStage productions but rather "things that might appeal to different segments of the audience.''
- Miami Herald, November 30, 2009
Sarnoff cites ONE show out of nearly two decades of productions.  GableStage has also produced The Diary of Anne Frank, an adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic Farenheit 451, Golda's Balcony, Miss Margarida's Way, Of Mice and Men, The Syringa Tree, Master Harold and the Boys, and Frankie and Johnny and the Claire De La Lune, all titles that would have been right at home on the Coconut Grove Playhouse stage.

It pains me to say this, but it appears that Marc Sarnoff is even more ignorant than the current gang of incompetents that make up the current Playhouse Board. 

Maybe Marc should review some of our past stories on The Grove.

Coconut Grove Playhouse is Back - in the News

More on GableStage and the Coconut Grove

GableStage goes to Coconut Grove - UPDATED

Will the Coconut Grove Playhouse "Return?"

A Pair of Playhouses: Why are they Empty?

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