A group of Miami social media activists want Frank Underwood to swap his barbecue for a little lechon. They’ve been peppering Twitter and Instagram with a #BringSpaceytoMiami hashtag featuring memes of House of Cards star Kevin Spacey at Miami’s favorite haunts — partying on South Beach, chilling at Versailles, painted on the Wynwood Walls, shopping at CocoWalk, and, yes, pulling a pig out of the Caja China.
— Spacey Playhouse (@SpaceyPlayhouse) February 19, 2016
Behind all the bad Photoshops of a famous fictional bad guy lies a good purpose, said Gabriela Guzman, founder of The Jupiter Circle and the organizer of the group of friends running the cheeky campaign. They hope to convince Spacey to help revive one of Miami’s most historic arts venues — the Coconut Grove Playhouse.
The Coconut Grove Playhouse was once a cornerstone of cultural life in Miami. It opened as a movie theater a century ago, just as movies became a dominant cultural art form. Famous actors later graced the stage in plays there, and it hosted the U.S. debut of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. But debt drove the theater into hard times. The building has been vacant for a decade, and its former splendor has decayed behind ornate columns and casings overlooking the intersection of Main Highway and Charles Ave.
Recently, the county leased the building from the state and in 2015 it signed an operating agreement with GableStage to run a 300-seat theater in the space. But the Coconut Grove Playhouse Foundation is dreaming bigger. Way bigger.
“Our mission is to rebuild the Playhouse and catalyze a new creative ecosystem for the theatrical community in Miami,” said Olga Granda-Scott, executive director of the Coconut Grove Playhouse Foundation. As Art Basel made Miami prominent in the modern art world and Wynwood fostered a fast-growing tech scene, Granda-Scott and supporters of the foundation hope the Playhouse might help Miami’s theatrical community thrive.
Enter Kevin Spacey.
Last spring, Spacey showed some interest in assisting the foundation in its mission to revive the playhouse, similar to the way he helped to revitalize the Old Vic in London as its artistic director. But the county never bit on a proposal to operate two theaters in the space, with some officials saying that the plan didn’t have enough public support.
Many of the more than 10,000 fans of the Save the Coconut Grove Playhouse Facebook page are plenty supportive of the foundation’s plan, but recent posts show growing annoyance with the county’s vision for the space.
“Clearly people are frustrated, tired and disillusioned with the process,” Guzman said. “Some of them have kind of lost hope, so we wanted to try to make this lighter and more fun.”
The timing of the social media blitz couldn’t be better, since South Florida appears to be in the throes of Spacey mania. Recently, the actor acknowledged an ongoing #SpaceyInSpace campaign from Florida Panthers fans that highlights a wonderfully weird sweatshirt players wear after winning games.
Guzman said that the Panthers hashtag inspired her. “We saw it, and we thought ‘but it is not just sports’,” she said. “There is a real opportunity for Kevin Spacey to come here, and he could really help revitalize this amazing venue and the arts in Miami.”
While no one at the foundation knew about the social media campaign before it launched, they’re delighted to see more Miamians supporting the Playhouse and their mission, Granda-Scott said. And, on Tuesday, another account, SpaceyComePlay also began advocating for Spacey to take the stage at the Playhouse.
Meanwhile, Granda-Scott and the foundation are quietly working on new plans and strategies to get county approval for their goals. Does she think the hashtag activism might actually convince Spacey? “I mean, he’s Frank Underwood,” she said. “I guess anything could happen.”