After rehearsing off-site at the Genesius Guild for several weeks, last night the actors of A Picasso took the stage in the upstairs Edith B. Wood Studio Theatre for the first time. As I heard the words spoken, I was reminded why the Artistic Committee was so thrilled to present this intriguing 75-minute one-act. While doing some reasearch on the play, I found a nice overview by blogger Cristofer Gross:
"Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher takes us to conflicted Vichy France, where a society renowned for fostering artistic freedom was suddenly under the boot of a paranoid culture at its most oppressive. From 1940 until 1944, France was divided into an area occupied by Nazi Germany and one administered by the hastily devised Vichy-based French government, which collaborated with the Germans.
Paris, in the occupied section, is the setting for this fictional face-off between Pablo Picasso and a less-than-committed German official named Ms. Fischer. Through these two, Hatcher provides sketches of censorship at its most insane and unjust, and a creative genius at his most embattled. In its mad rush to brainwash people into agreement, the Nazi propaganda machine not only generated sanctioned “art” that promoted its narrow racial profile, it also set about discrediting and destroying degenerative art--Entartete Kunst as they called it. Cowed and genocidal as they became, many Germans were nevertheless highly educated and culturally advanced. Deep within the officious, dispassionate Ms. Fischer, a light still flickers with appreciation for the creative breakthroughs and historic achievements that had emerged in this city before Hitler’s rise."
Actor Larry Hinken portrays the masterful painter Pablo Picasso and actress Maggie Reister-Walters brings Ms. Fisher to life under the veteran direction of Ed Griffith. Rehearsal last night looked like a typical Monday of tech week with actors and technicians adjusting to the space.
As Picasso and Fischer, the actors confront questions of who ultimately owns art and the multiple uses to which it can be put. What is most fascinating to watch is not the political dynamics of these two characters, but the examination of the power and meaning of art.
I'll be taking another peak at rehearsal tonight... can't wait!
[Above Image: Guernica painted by Pablo Picasso, 1937. Oil on canvas. 349x776cm. The painting was commissioned by the Spanish government to hang in the Spanish Pavilion at the World Fair in Paris, 1937. Guernica is Picasso's answer to the attrocities that were inflicted upon Guernica. It is a powerful work done a grand scale to highlite the futility of war and the suffering that it causes for all.]
posted by Artistic Chair Traci Brant