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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

They want it back; now!

Have you seen the yellow ribbons going up on trees all over town? Well people are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore. But no, this isn't what you think. It's not about the trees. It's about the Coconut Grove Playhouse!

There is a movement planned by the Village of Center Grove (VOCG) neighborhood group. They have a plan for April 2 -- the goal is to get 1000 people or more to show up to take over the Playhouse as part of their "Give It Back" campaign. In the coming weeks, you'll see people sporting yellow wristbands and buttons that say "Give It Back."

Nathan Kurland, Grove resident, professional actor and member of the VOCG is the leader of the group demanding the return of the Playhouse, that's Nathan above with Cecilia Gill. Other members of the community-based steering committee are Cecilia Gill, Joyce Nelson, Sue McConnell, Teresa Sarnoff, M. Peggy Quattro, Kitty Harring and David Collins. "Give It Back," says Nathan. "The time has come for action. If we are ever going to have a chance to bring back the Playhouse, then the people of Coconut Grove must once again gather together and stand up for our community. In terms of our future here, this is the big banana."

Grove Ambassador Louis Del Borrello is part of the "Give It Back" movement, if you have questions about the April 2 meetup, you can ask him about the plan when you see him around town.

The Coconut Grove Playhouse Board of Directors was freely given and accepted official ownership and responsibility for the Playhouse in 2004 by the State of Florida. Since that time, it had been run into the ground. It closed, finally, in 2006, in financial ruin. Lucie Arnaz's play, "Sonja Flew" was the last play to be performed, and the sets are still sitting on the stage, full of dust. The Playhouse has been shuttered since April 2006. The Playhouse opened in 1926 as part of Paramount Picture's movie chain. It changed from a movie house to live theater in the 1950s. "Waiting for Godot," opened there on January 3, 1956, staring Bert Lahr and Tom Ewell. It was an economic engine for Coconut Grove for all those years through 2006.

This is where you can help. This is a call to action. The "Give It Back" gathering will take place on Monday, April 2, at the Playhouse (3500 Main Highway) from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. Please just show up!The goal is to attract 1000 people or more to make a huge statement. People are fed up with the Playhouse board and something needs to be done now.

Grove civic leader, Mel Meinhardt points out, "The long vacant Playhouse has become an increasing haven for drug use, a civic and business eyesore and a target for mounting vandalism and an ever growing drain on the precious public safety resources. Give it back to the arts, give it back to heritage, give it back to the community, give it back to our children, give it back to business vitality, give it back to Miami and for heaven's sake, let's give it back to Coconut Grove!"

A new Facebook page to keep you up-to-date and to give details about the whole issue is forthcoming.


For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Blogger Brian Breslin said...

Is there a page that outlines all the issues relating to the grove playhouse?
I.e. how much it will cost to renovate? Who has the money, who is on the board, etc. like a wiki page with all the details so we can all get caught up.

Its hard for the average citizen in the grove to find out all the details and get involved with this and other issues.

March 13, 2012 11:31 AM  
Blogger Grapevine said...

Brian, I just added one more sentence to the story, a new Facebook page is coming in the next day or so that will explain it all.

March 13, 2012 11:39 AM  
Blogger oneearsociety said...

This is great and part of the "Give it Back" should include the original *GRove House" interest which had a gallery there and lost a lot of space when they expanded in the back. There was always this promise when the artists got back together they would be provided for.
The One Ear Society is paying attention as it opened with several of the original GRove House artists. It's all in the Grove history.

March 13, 2012 12:07 PM  
Blogger Max said...

How ironic that the Playhouse is waiting like Godot for something to happen. I would suggest that a more proactive approach might include ditching the chinos for your old blue jeans (if you have any), chaining yourselves to the trees surrounding the theatre, and adding ",Motherf**ker" to your slogan.

March 14, 2012 1:27 PM  
Blogger Denny Wood said...

The two mayors can solve this problem before the March ends.

The foot dragging of elected officals and bogus Cultural Departments is over. When people take to the streets, yards and other means, the battle is just about over.

I predict an April 2 victory celebration.


March 14, 2012 1:44 PM  
Blogger C.L.J. said...

The problem is that the Playhouse structure is compromised; most of the building was condemned before it closed. The current available funds are not enough to make it structurally sound AND outfit it as a functional theater.
The question that needs to asked; does the Grove simply want to save the building, or does the Grove want a producing theater based there? The two issues may be mutually exclusive.

March 14, 2012 11:13 PM  
Blogger miam_e said...

Thanks CLJ for bringing this up. I too want the playhouse active, but wonder how many $ the last few years of a boarded up, neglected playhouse have added to the total necessary to rehab the building.

March 15, 2012 12:52 PM  

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