By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Hardly a major work like Salesman, which Margulies goes to great lengths to both honor and satirize, The Loman Family Picnic nonetheless takes some structural and emotional risks. Although unpolished in places, FPT's production satisfyingly balances the humor, pain, and rage in Margulies's script while presenting an offbeat gestalt of family life.
Akropolis Acting Company was one of last season's most ambitious South Florida theater groups, bringing us such mind-bending works as Peter Weiss's Marat/Sade and Jean Genet s The Balcony. Yet we haven't seen a production from the fiery ensemble this year.
"We've been struggling to find a home," reports artistic director Marta Garcia, lamenting a predicament shared by too many inspired but small theater companies. Now, however, for the first time since the company was forced to leave its Coral Gables storefront space at the end of last spring because the building was going to be torn down, Akropolis seems to have found a place to rest its theatrical bones. Mario Ernesto Sanchez, founder and producing artistic director of Teatro Avante and the International Hispanic Theatre Festival of Miami, has agreed to share El Carrusel Theatre, also in the Gables, with Akropolis.
"We sat down [together] and found out what each of us needed," explains Garcia. Obviously, Akropolis wanted a place to stage productions. And according to Garcia, Sanchez "needed some technical support in the production aspects and basic taking care of the theater."
Sanchez confirms the arrangement. "We don't use the theater 52 weeks a year because of shrinking budgets," he notes. "I said [to Garcia], your group can help me out in technical aspects, lighting, sound design, and operating the theater. In return I'll help you with administration and grant writing."
But Sanchez admits his motivations are as idealistic as they are pragmatic: "The name of the game is survival [for theaters]. Every time I see someone with that kind of dedication and love and commitment to theater, I have to take my hat off to them. And she [Garcia] needs all the support she can get." Laughing, he adds, "Maybe some of the hope, youth, energy, and optimism everyone has in the group will rub off on me."
Akropolis's season opener, Samuel Beckett's Endgame, debuts at El Carrusel tonight, Thursday, January 11, and runs through January 27. Directed by Garcia, it features actors Paul Tei, Juan Sanchez, and New World School of the Arts faculty members Ellen Davis and Richard Janaro. The production has been a long time in coming for Garcia, who rehearsed some of the same actors for more than six weeks last spring until she had to cancel the show owing to actors' illnesses. Then, before combining forces with Teatro Avante, Garcia had planned to open Endgame in the long narrow room on the second floor of Tobacco Road. Small and struggling theater companies often utilize that space in the downtown Miami tavern because the price is right; the bar does not charge for use of the room. But it's available only on Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday nights. Not surprisingly, Garcia expressed relief at finding a permanent home where she could mount Beckett's absurdist comedy-drama on weekends.
Still, she admits to being somewhat daunted by bringing in an audience to El Carrusel. "We [now] have 200 seats to fill," she points out. "That's a big change for us from 40 seats last year. But we have tremendous confidence in our production of this challenging work. We're excited about presenting Beckett in Miami. We hope Miami audiences respond to our excitement."
The Loman Family Picnic.
Written by Donald Margulies; directed by Teresa Turiano; with Angela Thomas, Rory Parker, Teresa Turiano, Nicolae Popescu, and Tony Elias. Through January 14. Call 925-8123 or see "Calendar" listings.