These immaculately dressed cut-out dolls play their games against a shockingly stark set of white furnishings and white walls, designed by Martinez in direct contrast to the dark-hue, baroque, and claustrophobic backgrounds of the film version's sets. Costume designers Jennylin Duany and Jesus Lorenz provide elegant black-and-white outfits for the cast, including a series of fabulous hats. The overall effect is modern, angular, and cold, reflecting the shallow, self-serving concerns of the women while throwing Petra's histrionics into relief.
In producing Fassbinder's Petra Von Kant, Akropolis Acting Company stays true to its pledge to bring South Florida audiences theater not usually seen in these parts. While Fassbinder's politics may be obscured by his love affair with melodrama, and Akropolis's acting techniques may not inspire waves of emotional connection with the characters, this production nevertheless boasts a ton of style.
The guard has changed at Akropolis. Marta Garcia, founder and, from all visible signs, the guiding force behind the theater, has stepped down as artistic director after successfully mounting a production of Samuel Beckett's Endgame in January. Jennylin Duany has succeeded her.
"Marta thought the company wasn't going in the exact same way she was artistically," Duany notes, "and she decided on her own to resign."
Running a theater requires a slavish commitment to administrative work, fundraising, grant writing, and daily survival that Garcia sensed was holding her back creatively. "I'm young," explains the 23-year-old Garcia. "I still haven't even formulated my own vision of a very specific artistic direction. Living in Miami is all I have known. I want to travel, gain experience and access to other perspectives, see what's out there, what people are doing in Europe, in Chicago, in New York, in the world. When else am I going to be able to do that?"
Garcia formed Akropolis in 1994 because there was no other venue in South Florida where she could produce the theater she'd fallen in love with while attending the New World School of the Arts, the theater that excited her and that had turned her on to the stage in the first place: the European avant-garde of the Fifties and Sixties. Currently at work on a production she hopes to present locally at the end of the summer (Tadeusz Rozewicz's Mirage Blanc), Garcia plans an extended sojourn in Europe at the beginning of 1997.
Regarding her new position as artistic director, Duany says, "We all really work together as an ensemble. Even before, when Marta was part of the company, we all shared our views and it was very democratic. If anything, I would try to be an objective eye that supervises and makes sure we're going on the right track. I"m really looking forward to incorporating a lot of mixed media like film and movement and dance into newly developed works."
Like many struggling companies, however, Akropolis has been bouncing from one temporary stage to another since losing its storefront home in Coral Gables last summer. "What we're really trying to do after this production [of Petra]," concedes Duany, "is to solidify a permanent space.